Matt Godden scored Fleet’s first league hat-trick since Che Stadhart at Woking in 2002 and the first at the PHB Stadium since… well, the last time he did it against Hythe earlier this season! It also proved to be Fleet’s first double of the season as they repeated the scoreline they’d chalked up at Farnborough back in September.
Steve Brown made two changes: with Aiden Palmer nursing a knee injury, Shane Huke came in at right back, with Joe Howe switching to left, while Matt Johnson made way for Brendan Kiernan.
The first half was a familiar story of Fleet fully in control, just unable to break down the visitors, but it was certainly an improvement from the previous week’s game against Bath. Anthony Cook had the first real Fleet effort of note when Brendan Kiernan stabbed a pass at him from inside the box but the shot went over the bar while at the other end Phil Page’s shot threatened to bamboozle Brandon Hall but the Fleet goalkeeper recovered to save.
Cook was involved again on 10 minutes, twisting beyond the challenges of three players before releasing Godden, whose shot could have been better as he blasted it high and over, though play was called back for a foul on Cook.
With set pieces a real goldmine for the Fleet in their trip to Farnborough earlier this season, they almost opened the scoring on 19 minutes when McMahon fired a free-kick off the underside of the bar and down on to the line. Kiernan then set Godden free but his shot rolled wide of the post while Cook’s effort was stopped only by the leg of Lloyd Foot as Fleet continued to press.
But Boro had a few moments of their own as the half closed out. Hall made a vital save from Dan Bennett on 41 minutes and then Bennett fired against the crossbar from eight yards, with Page missing the rebound by a country mile, and he was probably grateful to see the offside flag after that miss.
Fleet needed to turn their first-half chances into goals before frustration set in and Godden provided the perfect tonic within three minutes. Farnborough went close when Harry Grant forced Hall into a fine stop and Cook cleared upfield to Kiernan who hared down the right wing. He looked to have taken it too far but managed to deliver for Godden who still had work to do to wrong-foot the defender and find a spot to make it 1-0.
Cook had two more opportunities, the first a wonderful burst forward where he kept the ball in the air as he waltzed past two defenders but couldn’t keep his shot down while the second was slightly more disappointing, delaying his effort too long after a long ball from Anthony Acheampong.
Then Clark, as happened the previous week, saw a header cleared off the line before saving the day at the other end when Page almost got between the two Fleet central defenders as the ball bounced between them. Page again went close for Farnborough after a good move begun by the impressive Aaron Dawson in midfield, but Hall again stood tall and turned the shot behind.
The man of the match was announced for Brendan Kiernan moments after he was replaced by Chris Sessegnon, but Godden had other ideas in the closing stages. Cook supplied Sessegnon on the right and the Fleet substitute showed great foresight in slipping the ball through to Godden who turned his defender and despatched a shot for 2-0 on 84 minutes. And, just as he had against Hythe, he left it late to lay claim to the match ball. In stoppage time, the always creative Howe sent in a cross and Godden stretched out a leg to turn the ball beyond Grainger and add further gloss to the result.
TEAM: Hall, Huke, Howe, McMahon, Acheampong, Clark, Kiernan (Sessegnon 81), Rance, Sheringham, Godden, Cook. Subs not used: Edwards, Mazzone, Johnson, Bricknell.