“Must win” they said. And Fleet did just that. Myles Weston’s winner scythed through the box to give the home side only their second win at the Kuflink Stadium this season but it was greeted as warmly as any in recent years.
Fleet leapfrogged Wrexham at the bottom of the table and for the third season running these two sides completed their head-to-head fixtures with a win each on home soil.
This one didn’t come quite as easily as the last two for the Fleet, with Weston’s strike coming against the run of play in the second half, but nobody of the red persuasion will care one jot about that.
Kevin Watson demanded a reaction after Tuesday night’s 5-2 defeat and his own response saw four changes, with Jordan Holmes returning in goal plus the additions of Alex Lawless, Alfie Egan and Tomi Adeloye. Harry Palmer, Frankie Sutherland, Ayo Obileye and Alex Reid made way.
Wrexham began with a few purposeful balls into the Fleet box and the movement of loanee Omari Patrick on the left ensured Marvel Ekpiteta’s concentration didn’t waver.
The home side took a little while to feel their way into the game and Adeloye’s cheeky inswinging effort from distance after five minutes was on target but simple enough for goalkeeper Rob Lainton to pluck out of the air.
When Fleet found Weston out wide on the right they were at their most effective and he had already flung in a couple of crosses before the best of them to the far post was met by Egan whose header cleared the bar from close range.
And on 10 minutes Fleet took the lead. It came moments after Holmes had two attempts to gather Akil Wright’s shot from 20 yards. Fleet returned upfield and Adeloye received a pass to his feet, skilfully turning his man before firing across goal and seeing James Jennings’ last touch send the ball past his own goalkeeper.
The goal signalled a controlled spell from the Fleet, with Lawless getting through a shift in midfield, though Josh Payne and Tyler Cordner had to mop up on the edge of their box. Payne was in action at the other end with one of his trademark efforts that Lainton had to stretch for but for 15 minutes there was little action at either end, the game locked in a midfield stalemate.
Wrexham got their lifeline on the half-hour mark when a free-kick from 35 yards bounced in the box. Jordan Holmes got in the way of Kieran Kennedy’s follow-up shot but the ball ran free and over the line for the equaliser.
Adeloye had another effort on goal three minutes later when he drove at the Wrexham defence from Andre Blackman’s pass but it was only half a chance and the only one either side had in the 12 minutes or so until half-time. Wrexham appealed for a foul on Grant late on as he went down under a challenge as he got ahead of two Fleet defenders but the referee proved lenient on that occasion.
Wrexham emerged the more hungry of the two sides and proceeded to keep possession and ping plenty of crosses into the Fleet box. The bustling figure of Patrick was given too much room to advance and try his luck on 50 minutes with an effort that dipped away from the upright.
Fleet then enjoyed one of their few moments of attacking football when Adeloye’s pass wide from the middle out to Egan was met by the midfielder but he struck a shot across goal and past the post.
That was Adeloye’s final action as he made way for former Wrexham loanee Reid on the hour mark. But still Fleet couldn’t play much of the game in the Wrexham half as the visitors continued to probe from the right with crosses and balls in towards Bobby Grant. More often than not, however, they played passes into the area without a striker to meet them and Fleet defended those well.
Their best chance came on 63 minutes when Kennedy slanted into the Fleet box and crossed to the far post but Jennings tripped over himself in shaping to shoot and Ekpiteta got that one away.
The Newport loanee got his body in the way of shots on several occasions, blocking Wright in one particularly tight encounter inside the Fleet box.
It wasn’t pretty and it all got a little niggly with some heavy tackles flying and the ball slugged from one end to the other before Fleet made Wrexham pay with their one spell of real pressure.
Gozie Ugwu, Reid and Weston all had half chances to get shots away in and around the Wrexham box before Fleet forced a corner on 72 minutes. Weston delivered it into the air but it returned to him as he closed in on the penalty area. He had a couple of options but chose to drive a shot low and hard through a packed box from an angle and it cleared the goalkeeper and nestled in the far corner.
Wrexham boss Dean Keates waited until 12 minutes from the end before making his one offensive change, Mark Harris coming on, and although the visitors continued to attack, it was without their earlier conviction.
Fleet had to be content to take their opportunities on the break but the ball kept returning to a yellow shirt, although Ugwu struck a good attempt after holding up play and turning his marker, that effort rising just over.
Sutherland supplied Reid with a pass for a run on goal in the last minute that would have wrapped things up but the substitute hit that one too high.
Home fans have witnessed leads disappearing late on but not this time as Reid and Weston kept the ball in the far corner superbly as the minutes ticked down and Wrexham, without an away win in more than seven months, were left with nothing at the final whistle.
EUFC: Holmes, Ekpiteta, Blackman, King, Cordner, Lawless, Egan (Sutherland 76), Payne, Weston,Ugwu, Adeloye (Reid 60). Subs not used: Obileye, Wilson, Palmer
WFC: Lainton, Kennedy, Lawlor, Pearson, Jennings, Summerfield, Young, Wright, Rutherford (Harris 79), Patrick, Grant. Subs not used: Dibble, Carrington, Redmond, Tollitt.