Fleet began life back in the National League with a hard-fought draw in a to-and-fro encounter that provided plenty of entertainment for the travelling Fleet support.
An inspiring second-half comeback could have seen all three points gained before the home side equalised late on and Daryl McMahon was disappointed not to take them.
The Fleet boss utilised Luke Coulson and Myles Weston either side of a three-man defensive line and opted for Danny Kedwell in attack alongside Darren McQueen.
Guiseley, who had only just escaped relegation the previous season, gave a great account of themselves and certainly looked like they could improve on the bookies’ odds that seemed loaded against them.
The opening exchanges of the new season were fast, with both sides looking to shake off the lethargy of pre-season and Fleet got Weston and Coulson forward enough to threaten in the opening moments. But Guiseley gave as good as they got and had their own attacking threat in Reece Thompson, ably assisted by the terrier-like midfield work of Wayne Rooney’s brother, John.
Fleet had the best chances in the first 15 minutes and Powell’s free-kick on five was headed by Dave Winfield into the path of Sam Magri on eight yards but a combination of the goalkeeper and a defender managed to keep the ball from crossing the line.
Then on 13 minutes, Weston had space down the left and, courtesy of several stepovers, delivered a great cross which McQueen flung himself towards but sent a diving header wide of the target.
But as Fleet were finding their rhythm, disaster struck from a corner. With players jockeying for position in the Fleet box, the ball was played to Rooney lurking 20 yards out and he let fly with a superb shot that soared past Ashmore and rippled the roof of the net to put Guiseley into the lead.
That goal settled the home side and they comfortably kept the Fleet at bay for the rest of the first half. Kedwell and McQueen looked a little isolated while Rooney and left-back Marcus Williams ran the show for the home side. Magri headed a ball out from the penalty spot as a cross flew in and Kenny Clark had to be alert to perform a crunching tackle at Raul Correia’s feet inside the box. Coulson was perhaps fortunate when he collided with a breaking Reece Thompson 10 yards inside the Fleet half as the Guiseley man was arrowing in towards goal and though the home side howled for a red card the referee waved play on.
Powell embarked on a mazy run on 27 minutes that took him to the edge of the six-yard box but goalkeeper Jonathan Maxted did enough at his near post to send it behind for a corner. Clark made another vital interception five minutes from the break as Guiseley continued to look for a crucial second and the impressive Rooney’s shot bounced off Correia from a good position.
But whatever was said in the dressing room at half-time clearly worked for the Fleet who came out in the second half all guns blazing. Kedwell saw an immediate yellow card for leaving his leg in on Connor Brown and for a spell, there were a fair few tackles flying in. Powell’s distribution was key and he was looking to release Weston out left time and again. He sent McQueen through on 47 minutes and the striker beat his man but Jonathan Maxted in goal was well prepared and blocked the shot.
Kedwell had a header that he sent back into the box while positioned at the far post and the same player saw another shot from inside the box charged down as Guiseley defended for all their worth. On 57 minutes, Weston again got away in a good position down the left and crossed low for a lunging McQueen who was only a fraction away from connecting in the six-yard box. Coulson then showed some fine skill, flicking the ball into the air and flashing a volley across goal from wide on the right of the box.
Fleet surely couldn’t be denied for long and so it proved. On 62 minutes, Coulson began a move in the middle of the park that saw the former Barnet man continue on down the right flank before sending a cross over to the opposite side of the box where Weston met it and tucked it home from 10 yards, though McQueen claimed a touch and has since been officially credited with it.
Just as Fleet had in their previous competitive match, they turned the game around inside five minutes and it was McQueen once more who did it. Coulson, under pressure in defence, squirmed into space and lifted a long ball forward for McQueen who, in trademark fashion, outpaced his marker and slotted the ball away from the advancing Maxted and over the line.
With Guiseley barely in the running, it seemed Fleet could coast this one out for three points. McQueen made way for Aaron McLean and Fleet sniffed around the home box looking for a third.
But out of the blue, the home side mustered a comeback. Substitute Frank Mulhern was involved, opening up the Fleet with a shot that clipped the post and bounced back out to Brown where his second effort was superbly turned away by Ashmore who had recovered in no time from the first effort. Sadly for the Fleet keeper, Thompson was lurking and simply had to keep his shot on target and did exactly that.
That turned the game around again and for a spell Guiseley looked the more eager. Ashmore had to be effective in claiming a succession of crosses and he made a good save from Mulhern after his own poor throw out played the home substitute in. Powell and Jack Payne had late efforts as both teams continued to pile men forward looking for the win but had to settle for the point.
EUFC: Ashmore, Winfield, Clark, Magri, Coulson, Weston, Payne, Drury, Powell, Kedwell, McQueen (McLean 72). Subs not used: Miles, Shields, Mills, McCoy
GFC: Maxted, Brown, Lowe, Hurst (Purver 80), Wesloswski (Hatfield 80), Lawlor, Thompson, Rooney, Molyneaux, Correia (Mulhern 63), Williams. Subs not used: East, Atkinson