Fleet fell to a two-goal blast midway through the first-half and faced an uphill struggle thereafter as Chris Solly saw red minutes into the second half as Hampton & Richmond Borough took all three points, wrapping things up with a late free-kick.
Even with 10 men, Fleet tried to take the game to their hosts but couldn’t summon the cutting edge to reverse the first-half damage.
Having come off the bench last week, Rakish Bingham was restored to the starting lineup as the only change for the Fleet’s eleven while Tobi Adebayo-Rowling returned from his three-week injury to claim a place on the bench.
Hampton started two of their three new loanees, Ben Shroll and Zach Dronfield, with Sheffield Wednesday striker Charles Hagen named as substitute.
And it was a second-minute Hampton corner that provided the first bit of drama when an inswinging kick produced a Shroll header right at Josh Gould who reacted well. He was able to block it and Fleet scrambled the ball away as home shirts closed in.
It was an even affair as both sides probed early on but Fleet had two good chances blocked on eight minutes. Bingham saw an effort inside the box hit a Hampton leg before Alan Julian was forced into a low save in his six-yard box as Bingham once more sniffed around.
The Fleet No.9 clearly had a taste for the action after his spell out and he rose above everyone to head Chris Solly’s 12th minute delivery on target, Julian leaping up to palm that one away. Next up was Lee Martin with a drive from Bingham’s lay-off outside the box which Julian again stopped but it spun away to Dominic Poleon who was in an offside position.
Bingham was similarly – and somewhat confusingly – flagged again when he broke from Lee Martin’s pass on 20 minutes as Fleet began to boss possession.
But after Fleet became frustrated with the lack of a breakthrough, it was the home side who took the lead on 32 minutes. Joe Martin had headed clear a free kick into the box but Shroll kept the pressure on with a cross from the right and defender Ruaridh Donaldson dived in to send a header firmly past Gould.
There was almost an instant response when Greg Cundle took down a diagonal ball on the left and cut inside Shroll to squeeze a fine shot that just shaved Julian’s near post.
Hampton had another good effort on 38 minutes when a run from midfield fed Kadell Daniel and the former Margate man curled a useful shot around the defence but just to the right of the crossbar.
They didn’t miss their next one, however, when Jake Gray powered through the middle with the Fleet defence stretched. With men in support, he opted for Jorome Slew to his left and the winger swept home the Beavers’ second of the afternoon.
Hampton succeeded in slowing the game down after that and Fleet struggled to get back in a rhythm before the half-time whistle drew a veil over the opening period.
David Fisher swung a shot just wide straight from kick-off for the home side before things got even worse for the Fleet as Solly pushed Slew as he ran through and as last man received a red card. The referee initially ignored the challenge only for his assistant to flag his attention to it.
The chance Fleet needed came on 52 minutes when Cundle’s run opened up the Hampton back line. Julian pushed his shot out and Egan swung at the ball but missed and the opportunity was gone. Luck just wasn’t with the Fleet and moments later Martin looped a shot at Julian that the goalkeeper again pushed back out into his box but it dropped just behind Bingham.
Fleet had to reshape and both Sefa Kahraman and Tobi Adebayo-Rowling were thrown into the fray. The visitors succeeded in frustrating the 11 men for a period as despite the numerical disadvantage they began to find their passing game once more. But with Bingham deeper as a result of the reduction to 10 men, it was left to Cundle and Lee Martin to try to pick the lock.
At the other end, the tireless Ben Chapman was forced to hack a low cross out of his six-yard box but Hampton’s extra man was more noticeable as they defended in numbers rather than when they got forward, which meant the Fleet were outnumbered every time they got into the final third.
Frustrations grew in the closing stages as the green shirts picked up a couple of yellow cards with fouls ratcheting up and one of those proved costly when Kyron Farrell fired home a free-kick from the right side 25 yards out to wrap up the win for the Beavers on 87 minutes.
EUFC: Gould, Solly, J.Martin, Chapman, Paxman, Egan, Cundle, Tanner (Adebayo-Rowling 58), L.Martin, Bingham (Romain 77), Poleon (Kahraman 50). Subs not used: West, Haigh
HRBFC: Julian, Shroll, Donaldson, Wassmer, Cox (Uche 46), Gray, Daniel (Hagen 79), Fisher, Slew (Minhas 70), Farrell, Dronfield. Subs not used: Anderson, Hutchins
GALLERY: Match photos here.