Fleet 3-0 Ramsgate

The halfway point of pre-season was reached with a convincing second-half performance producing the goals to see off Ramsgate as Fleet converted three times on a sultry Kuflink Stadium evening.

There was a little help with the opener as Ramsgate put through their own net but after a well-organised display from the visitors in the first-half, it was a much more one-way affair in the second.

Fleet lined up initially with a back four in this hastily arranged replacement friendly as Steve Lovell returned to his former club as Ramsgate boss, with ex-Fleet academy graduate Jamie Coyle in the visitors’ lineup.

Ramsgate set up solidly but it was five minutes in when Franklin Domi found himself in a shooting position behind their back line but that was flagged for offside.

It was a quick Ramsgate break on 12 minutes that might have undone the Fleet, when a right-flank move allowed for a shot on goal that thumped off Chris Haigh’s post.

Domi was making some promising incursions infield and upfield from his left-back position with Haydn Hollis – skipper for the night – marshalling those around him well.

A physically strong, tall side, Ramsgate anchored themselves in midfield and showed some neat movement and quick football themselves. Haigh found a free-kick easy enough to deal with and then did brilliantly at full stretch to push a shot across goal and behind on 34 minutes.

Luke O’Neill was unfortunate when his spin and shot rose high of the bar on 37 minutes as Fleet were bright in midfield, Elliott Romain’s tireless link-ups with Darren McQueen and Kieran Monlouis dealt with by the well-drilled visitors.

McQueen had a similar effort to O’Neill’s shortly before half-time that was well struck but it flew into the keeper’s midriff.

The deadlock was firmly in place at the break but it took mere seconds of the second half for Fleet to go ahead. It was self-destruct by Ramsgate as their centre-back, under no real pressure but with Romain lurking, played a ball back out of his own goalkeeper’s reach which rolled slowly but remorselessly over the line.

Omari Sterling-James wasn’t a million miles from carving out a second goal when his run to the byline produced a ball whipped across the six-yard box but Ramsgate escaped. There was some nifty footwork and confident play as Fleet sensed a second goal, Josh Wright back-heeling into McQueen’s path and Domi only a whisker away at the far post.

Sterling-James fired in a 56th minute free-kick that the goalkeeper punched away before five more substitutions unleashed the likes of Craig Tanner and Rakish Bingham on the visitors. Those two combined on 67 minutes, Tanner floating a great ball out to Bingham who moved off the shoulder of the last defender but saw his excellent shot blocked.

Not that he had to wait long. The very next attack came down the opposite side and there was Bingham well positioned to drill home the Fleet’s second. And the third goal wasn’t far behind that as the game entered the 71st minute. Chris Solly’s ball upfield to Bingham was taken on at rapid pace by the No.9. He produced a quick cross that Greg Cundle met first time with a shot off the woodwork but followed up to steer into the roof of the net.

Ramsgate had a couple of moments at the other end but substitute Mark Cousins preserved Fleet’s clean sheet with a very good low stop from a free-kick 10 minutes from the end. Back came the Fleet and Cundle slipped a pass into the middle for Wright whose low drive was deflected behind. A number of other half-chances came Fleet’s way as Tanner and Ben Chapman drove their side forward but there was some frustration with the referee’s decisions throughout that tried the home side’s patience.

It finished 3-0, however, to send the home side into Saturday’s meeting with Colchester in fine fettle.

EUFC: Haigh (Cousins 46), Domi, O’Neill (Wright 46), Jombati (Solly 62), Hollis (Finney 46), Chapman, Monlouis (N’Guessan), Sterling-James (Cundle 62), McQueen (Tanner 62), Trialist A (Martin 62), Romain (Bingham 62).
Attendance: 223


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