Two-goal Moses Ashikodi fires Fleet to vital win in tense finale…
Apologies for delay in updating latest results – we had access problems over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Three points may well have been the order of the day but many Fleet fans were left pondering the three months off their respective lifespans for which their side’s nailbiting victory was probably to blame!
The Fleet boss recalled Stefan Bailey at the expense of Alex Stavrinou and it was he who steadied Fleet’s nerves early on with a goal after only seven minutes when he struck a shot from distance after capitalising on a poor clearance upfield.
With the wind behind them in the first half, the Fleet looked the stronger of the two sides and hitmen Magno Vieira and Moses Ashikodi both had chances to extend the lead but both were off target from close range. Kane Wills also went close after running on to a clever ball from Ashikodi but his shot was turned wide courtesy of a Ben Austin deflection. Ashikodi and Leon Crooks both tested keeper Danny Knowles late on as Fleet turned the screw and Boro went in at the break with only a decent Luke Rooney free-kick to show for their efforts.
But Fleet’s vulnerability in that short period after the restart was plain to see as Matt Crabb grabbed an equaliser on 48 minutes with a bullet of a shot that flew past Lance Cronin.
But then Ashikodi hit the headlines in some style, his brace in three minutes his 9th and 10th goals for the club in just 14 games. The first, edging the Fleet back in front on 63 minutes, saw Cronin’s upfield kick catch out the Boro defence and as they failed to clear, Ashikodi was first to a loose ball to hit home.
He took only two minutes to extend the Fleet’s lead, as Boro again dallied in the box and when Vieira’s effort pinged off a leg, Ashikodi fired home.
That really should have been that but Boro’s positive substitutions put the Fleet on the back foot, with Liam Enver-Marum’s physical presence combining with the wilier play of Joe Benjamin. Indeed it was Benjamin who set up the tense finale when he tapped home Crabb’s corner on 79 minutes and two minutes later won a penalty after Dean Pooley was adjudged to have fouled him in what looked a 50/50 challenge.
The Fleet defender sustained a yellow card for the alleged foul and then collected another in the aftermath as he sought to remind the referee of his limitations but fortunately for the Fleet their man between the sticks was in top form and he pulled off a great save from Simon Weatherstone’s spot kick.
If he thought he’d earned his week’s wages for that one, Cronin may want to put a claim in for overtime as he kept a resurgent Eastbourne at bay in the final 10 minutes with a string of superb saves, denying Weatherstone again, then Enver-Marum and finally Dan Brown. He was the only player to keep a clear head as the referee dished out four more cards in the closing minutes in a bad-tempered climax.
It was the Fleet’s first win in seven games and only their second double of the season but it kept them in the chasing pack as Daish attempts the perceived Mission Impossible to haul back today’s opponents, as well as Forest Green and the teams immediately above them.
TEAM: Cronin, Salmon, Pooley, Crooks, Charles, Holmes, Bailey, Wills (Heeroo 87), Shakes, Vieira (Stavrinou 87), Ashikodi. Subs not used: Welsh, Ginty, Read.