Loan signing Matt Godden capped an excellent first 27 minutes in a Fleet shirt as his debut goal secured a vital three points for the Fleet after the home side found themselves two goals down inside the first 12 minutes.
It might be a little early to speak of six-pointers but this clash with Hyde – one place above the Fleet in 22nd at start of play – was as near as it has come this season. Liam Daish made two changes from Fleet’s midweek draw at Telford, Louie Soares replacing Lanre Azeez and Liam Enver-Marum in for the injured Moses Ashikodi, while Scunthorpe loanee Godden had to settle for a place on the bench.
But any hopes that recent resilience away from home would translate into a performance of confidence and class at Stonebridge Road was dashed inside the opening exchanges as supposed fellow strugglers Hyde threatened to make off with the points well before half-time. The game was only four minutes old when winger Ryan Crowther, once on Liverpool’s books, surged through the Fleet defence and struck a decent shot from the edge of the area past Preston Edwards.
It was a well-taken goal but the Fleet defence stood off too easily and they did it again seven minutes later when a gap opened up between Edwards and his defenders and Matthew Blinkhorn was on hand to power a shot into the back of the net.
Fleet struggled to find any rhythm as Hyde closed down the home side’s distribution channels at every opportunity, frustrating home fans as their players could only hit hopeful balls from midfield. It took 27 minutes for Fleet to trouble the Hyde defence, when Carew twisted and turned and loosed off a low shot that snuck past the right of the post. After that, the Fleet began to believe a little more and Soares’ cross had to be hacked away by Luke Ashworth while Tom Phipp’s dipping shot from 20 yards was also worthy of mention.
But it was Neil Barrett who began the revival on 34 minutes as he rose to convert Carew’s deep corner, a crucial goal to get Fleet back into proceedings before half-time. This, however, woke Hyde from their brief lethargy and Crowther brought a save from Edwards before the Fleet goalkeeper made an even more important stop on the stroke of half-time, palming away Alex Brown’s shot from eight yards after the Hyde player had cut inside Joe Howe.
With Crowther causing much of the damage down the Fleet right, Daish brought Craig Stone on for James Folkes at half-time, though it was Hyde who started the second half on the front foot. Scott Spencer won a corner as Edwards turned his shot aside and from the corner, it was Nathan Elder of all people defending to scramble the ball clear.
Fleet gradually seized the initiative but a low Barrett shot was easily gathered by goalkeeper Dilo, who also punched away a cross as Paul Lorraine steamed in to connect, were the best the home side could muster. Daish played his hand with almost half an hour left, sacrificing Soares and Enver-Marum for Azeez and Godden – and the Fleet took that as a signal to step things up.
Azeez was straight into the action with a clever run and dribble though he elected to cross the ball when he might have been better advised to go it alone. But on 71 minutes, the young Fleet winger repeated his heroics of a week before at Carlisle, crossing low into the box where – as he did last week – Elder converted with a drive past Dilo for the equaliser.
Fleet refused to settle for a point and Godden was only denied a debut goal by an offside flag and then minutes later he was put through by Elder and produced a delightful lob over Dilo that just cleared the crossbar. But the Scunthorpe striker got the goal that his tenacity and chasing deserved on 79 minutes when Carew collected the ball on the edge of the box, dropped his shoulder and let fly with a fine shot that Dilo could only block. There was Godden on hand to collect the loose ball and prod it over the prone goalkeeper for a very welcome winner.
Fleet had to withstand some late pressure, Ada booked for bringing down Spencer as he threatened to burst through, Godden stooping low to clear the danger from the resulting free kick. And Edwards produced one more excellent save in time added on when Spencer’s rather theatrically-won free-kick was crossed low into the Fleet box and Liam Tomsett’s shot from 10 yards was somehow turned over the bar courtesy of an acrobatic dive from Edwards.
TEAM: Edwards, Folkes (Stone 46), Howe, Ada, Lorraine, Barrett, Phipp, Soares (Azeez 63), Carew, Enver-Marum (Godden 63), Elder. Subs not used: Menz, Bellamy