Fleet 7-2 Worthing

The Fleet made it 17 goals in the last three meetings with Worthing as Dennis Kutrieb’s side came from behind to register seven more on their already healthy goals total. And they did it with seven different scorers including a belter from Luke O’Neill plus Omari Sterling-James and Billy Clifford hitting their first each for the club.

The nine-goal total at the Kuflink Stadium tonight was also the first such goals haul since a 5-4 defeat of Kidderminster Harries in 2007, pure entertainment for the 1,021 who braved the chilly evening.

Kutrieb made four changes with Chris Solly back after recent absence and alongside him in the starting lineup were Ben Chapman, Franklin Domi and Shaq Coulthirst.

Having enjoyed a 6-0 scoreline last time the teams met, Fleet forced half that number in corners inside the opening two minutes, Sterling firing just over from Chapman’s through ball.

Worthing fought straight back and Christian N’Guessan had to sweep clear after Mark Cousins had parried Lewis White’s initial shot on target.

But the Rebels were ahead on 11 minutes in similar circumstances, Ollie Pearce this time forcing the save from Cousins with a good drive from 18 yards but Reece Meekums was first to the rebound on this occasion and 1-0 it was.

Fleet responded with Rakish Bingham’s shot on target taking a rather fortunate deflection wide from Joe Rye, before Chapman had two efforts on target blocked and then saved.

Undeterred, the equaliser came on 21 minutes with a little help from Worthing keeper Harrison Male. His kicked clearance was poor and hit Domi, allowing Coulthirst to take a touch, find a glimmer of space and get enough on his shot to fire past Male and cross the line as blue shirts scrambled back unsuccessfully to clear.

One-all became 2-1 six minutes later after Coulthirst had won a corner off another shot. That set piece was helped onby Domi once more to Bingham at the far post and he climbed high to head into the opposite corner.

Coulthirst might have extended the lead further on 32 minutes when he sprung the offside trap to beat the last defender but this time Male stood up well and got in the way of the shot.

It was a high-tempo game with Worthing knocking it about plenty and Fleet having to harry and chase as much as their opposition when out of possession. And the visitors had a fine chance to equalise six minutes from the break when Josh Chambers connected well to get a sharp effort blasted on target, Cousins acrobatically getting his arm across his body to push away.

Bodies in the way was the tale of the next Fleet attack as Toby Edser smacked two quickfire goalbound efforts that were well blocked. And so it seemed 2-1 would be the story of the first-half until stoppage time conjured up the goal of the night. Some 25 yards out, Edser supplied O’Neill who had a brief glance up then floated an exquisite effort way beyond a stretching Male into the top corner.

There was still time for an angry reaction from the Worthing bench to a penalty claim turned down before the whistle sounded on an entertaining opening 45.

Harrison Male can only fling himself in vain at Luke O’Neill’s strike

O’Neill’s hit was a contender for goal of the season but he and everyone else had to watch and admire the next Fleet strike on 49 minutes as N’Guessan found Sterling who beat his man and drove down the right in his usual manner but what was more unusual was the tight-angled shot he buried past Male for his first Fleet goal, instead of the more customary delivery into the middle.

Worthing were their own worst enemy again as Fleet fired a fifth just past the hour. Dominic Poleon had only been on the pitch two minutes when he was presented with a defensive howler as a Rye throw-in left Male short coming off his line. Rounding the goalkeeper, Poleon advanced to the byline and crossed perfectly for Edser to gather and pick his spot with Male still trying to get back to cover.

Worthing pulled one back 10 minutes from the end when Danny Barker drove low and in from the same spot as O’Neill’s goal but by then the Rebels were quelled.

And if 6-2 was good enough for the Hampton game, it was good enough for this one, too. Substitute Darren McQueen was felled on the edge of the box, Edser pinged over the delivery and the ball came back off an unfortunate defender with a little help perhaps from Poleon on the line – and the Fleet top scorer was certainly claiming a touch!

There was still time to give the scoreline and even more imposing edge as Fleet hit a seventh. And rounding off the night, it was substitute Billy Clifford who sent the Plough End into further raptures as he tucked home Chapman’s well-worked assist with a first-time effort.

Those goals took the Fleet on to 88 scored and 84 points. To put into context, Maidstone won the league with 87 points last season from 40 games and Fleet could manage that in 38 matches. And in terms of goals scored, the 88 so far is already the fifth highest in club history with nine games still to go! Up next – a Kent derby at Tonbridge.

EUFC: Cousins, O’Neill, Martin (Clifford 66), Solly, N’Guessan, Edser, Chapman, Sterling-James (McQueen 72), Domi, Bingham (Poleon 59), Coulthirst. Subs: Jombati, Cundle
WFC: Male, Colbran, Wills, Racine, Barker, Chambers (Lee 65), Pearce, White (Rodari 51), Rye, Beresford (Livesey-Austin 51) , Meekums. Subs: Bowry, Chadwick
Attendance: 1,021

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