A Calum Willock brace lifted Fleet to 14th in the Blue Square Bet Premier as Ebbsfleet completed the double and, finally, the abandoned fixture against Hayes & Yeading.
Fleet made one change from the win over Chester, with Ricky Shakes replacing Neil Barrett – as he did in the first half on Saturday – while Liam Enver-Marum returned to the bench from suspension where he sat alongside new goalkeeper Tom McNeil.
Inside three minutes Craig Stone’s ball into the Hayes box caused a moment of panic as the home side hacked at it before clearing for corner. But the visitors, who were a goal behind inside the first six minutes during the abandoned New Year’s Day game, were clearly benefiting from their influx of new and returning players and stepped it up to cause Fleet some problems.
Louis Soares, recently on trial at Blackpool, forced Preston Edwards into a save on seven minutes and then another from a corner a minute later. On 10 minutes the Fleet breathed a sigh of relief as Tom Cadmore headed on a corner that was diverted over with the goal at Hayes’ mercy. Soares, together with Luke Williams, were looking dangerous for the home side and he troubled Edwards with a fine shot on 24 minutes and Williams followed up with one of his own a minute later.
Fleet were getting pushed back and were restricted to half chances that fell to Nathaniel Pinney and Willock but saved their best for last. Four minutes before half-time, Willock ran on to a through pass to tuck the ball past goalkeeper Carl Pentney to the delight of the travelling fans.
Referee Rob Whitton, who had given way to his linesman two minutes before the break, proved unable to continue and his replacement was soon blowing for an equaliser as Hayes got themselves back into the game within 90 seconds of the restart. Soares, fittingly given his first-half performance, controlled a ball on the edge of the box before letting fly high past Edwards for 1-1.
Fleet were forced into a change on 54 minutes as Tom Phipp appeared to have re-broken his nose following a collision, Neil Barrett the man introduced. And on the hour mark, the visitors should really have succumbed to a second Hayes goal when Julian Owusu lifted the ball over Edwards for what seemed a certain conversion, but Yado Mambo did brilliantly to get back and hook off the line. Hayes appeared eager to maintain their forward impetus and Jordan Rose fired over while Joe Howe was forced to clear from Williams’ effort.
But as in the first-half, Fleet soaked up the pressure on an increasingly slippy pitch and then delivered a killer blow. With 13 minutes left on the clock, substitute Enver-Marum supplied Willock who, with Pentney stuck in no-man’s land, lifted it over him and into the back of the net. Willock then shot just wide again on 83 minutes before Mambo was called into action at the other end to clear a dangerous Soares corner.
Fleet held on to go 12 points clear of the relegation zone and climb above Tamworth on goal difference. Next stop: York.
TEAM: Edwards, Stone, Howe, Mambo, Lorraine, Marwa, Phipp (Barrett 54), West (Enver-Marum 61), Shakes, Pinney, Willock. Subs not used: McNeil, Herd, Azeez
Ram Marwa won man of the match v Chester. Vote for tonight’s using drop-down menu above.