Hotshot Tom Phipp’s early brace sets Fleet on their way…
Latecomers to Stonebridge Road this afternoon may as well not have bothered as much of this game was decided in the opening 24 minutes as Ebbsfleet United got their promotion campaign back on track.
Fleet began with debutant Conor Okus in midfield as Joe Howe switched to left back to cover Derek Duncan’s absence while Scott Ginty replaced Gareth Williams up front. There was also a return for Clint Easton in defence while Dorchester named two loan signings, Bournemouth’s Jay Stockley up front and on the bench, Crawley’s Chris Flood.
Liam Daish will be glad his side almost instantly shrugged off last week’s defeat at Braintree when, inside the first five minutes, they took the lead. And it was Tom Phipp, who scored his first goal for the club at Dorchester, who rifled home a fine effort from distance.
But the Fleet were undone five minutes later when the visitors worked a move that ended with Stockley nipping in between his markers to grab a debut goal and an equaliser.
Yet there looked to be goals aplenty in this one as Fleet responded yet again and after Michael West twice got behind the Dorchester defence, Phipp carved them open again on 14 minutes cutting inside and running on to a pass before volleying home another shot from long range over the despairing Regan Coward.
Fleet looked capable of scoring every time they ventured forward as Ram Marwa sprayed the ball from side to side and Howe, Okus and West supplied a steady stream of opportunities for Calum Willock. But there was a black mark on Fleet’s day when Ginty limped over to the touchline on 19 minutes for a word with the Fleet physio and was then promptly subsituted with presumably a recurrence of his hamstring trouble.
His replacement, Ricky Shakes, immediately set about causing Dorchester problems and within five minutes Fleet were further ahead. Willock charged down a cross in the box and though he couldn’t quite connect as the ball lay at his feet, it spun loose where West was following up and he scooped a shot into the back of the net for 3-1.
The Fleet remained in the ascendancy as Dorchester threatened only two or three times on the break, all cleared up by Preston Edwards when they did venture forward. Marwa continued to dictate in midfield and the Fleet continued in much the same positive frame of mind in the second half, despite the loss of Phipp to injury, Carew replacing him.
Such was Dorchester’s tendency to sit back that Howe got forward time and again down the Fleet left, cutting open the visitors at will and combining well with Okus. The debutant showed several good touches and twice weaved his way into the box only to lose his footing or see his shots go just wide. Shakes, too, was full of running and he and West continually probed for a fourth goal that just wouldn’t arrive.
Willock came nearest as the minutes ticked away when Shakes sent through a low cross that beat the keeper but Willock was inches short of connecting.
This failure to kill the game off could have cost the Fleet had their opponents offered more adventure in attack but as the board went up for time added on, they conjured up a well-worked consolation when a neat exchange of passes put Stockley in the clear and he despatched a clinical shot past Edwards.
It was too little, too late for Ashley Vickers’ men and Fleet will welcome another three points in their promotion quest and their first league double of the season after that brief derailment at Braintree last Monday.
TEAM: Edwards, Stone, Howe, Okus, Easton, Lorraine, West (Williams 79), Marwa, Willock, Ginty (Shakes 19), Phipp (Carew 46). Subs not used: Hagan, Pooley.
Paul Lorraine was voted MoM at Braintree. Decide who wins today [ HERE ].