League’s lowest scorers fire blanks between them…
The “yawn at The Lawn” was how one departing Fleet fan described this one and a goalless draw came as no surprise between the two lowest-scoring sides in the league.
Yet both can ill afford to keep firing blanks and many more single-point hauls of this nature could leave them adrift early in the season. Liam Daish kept faith with the side that drew with Rushden in midweek though welcomed Michael West back to the squad and he started on the bench.
On a bright afternoon in Gloucestershire the scene looked set for an entertaining game but in truth, despite the home side’s desire to impress their new manager, there was little of note. Rovers were positive in the tackle as their players sought to catch the eye of their new boss, who had drafted in three new bodies in his first hours in charge.
One of them, Jeffrey Imudia, caught the eye with a great defensive display that shackled Ishmael Welsh and cut off the Fleet’s supply at source. Welsh was seeing plenty of the ball but more often than not ran into a dead end as play was concentrated on the Fleet left. Rovers had the first effort, though it was hardly of note, Sean Rigg finding himself in space on 3 minutes but Lance Cronin dealt easily with the shot.
The game opened up midway through the half but there was still little occuring in either penalty area. Conal Platt looked useful for Rovers but it was Steve Davies who produced the only real talking point on 39 minutes, unsettling Jordan Collins and running in behind the Fleet defender to cross for Lewis Spence and he drew a good save from Cronin.
The Fleet pressed more in the second half and played some decent football, James Lindie’s introduction on 53 minutes upping the ante. Welsh launched an optimistic shot over the bar shortly afterwards and Fleet introduced West and Ricky Shakes as they adopted a more attacking strategy. But with Imudia still strong at the back, a goalless draw rarely looked in doubt. Cronin had to be alert in the final few minutes, double saving from Rigg and Spence, but the almost-inevitable result was confirmed after four minutes of time added on.
While four-and-a-half hours without scoring is a statistic nobody will need reminding of, back-to-back clean sheets is also showing an improved defensive performance and if Fleet can generate confidence from not losing games, that at least is a solid foundation.
TEAM: Cronin, Pooley, Collins, Crooks, Charles, Heeroo (West 69), Bailey, Wills, Welsh, Vieira (Shakes 84), Thomas (Lindie 53). Subs not used: Salmon, Ginty.