FLEET SURRENDER TWO-GOAL LEAD AS HISTON HIT FIVE IN A ROW IN FIGHTBACK…
HISTON 5-2 EBSFLEET UNITED
A play-off dream that looked partially derailed after the first quarter of this game all came together for Histon in the end as they put a much-changed Fleet side to the sword in rainy Cambridgeshire.
With survival all but ensured and a potentially easier game – at least on paper – to win coming up on Saturday, Liam Daish rested his big guns, with Michael Gash and Ricky Shakes rested while Darius Charles, Stacy Long and Michael West were all on the bench.
In came Peter Hawkins having been recalled from his loan to play in his 100th game for the Fleet alongside PASE midfielder Chris Henry and George Purcell. Kezie Ibe, Dean Pooley and Giuseppe Sole started from where they left off against Lewes having come on as substitutes in that match.
And Histon, something of a bogey side in the Conference for the Fleet, almost got off to the perfect start in the opening minute when a Gareth Gwillim corner was only partially cleared and Jamie Barker hit a shot against the post.
That let-off was all the more galling for the home side three minutes later when Pooley got a toe to a loose ball in the six-yard box from Purcell’s corner and gave the Fleet an unlikely lead.
It got even better for the travelling Fleet fans eight minutes later when Lance Cronin launched a trademark long ball that sailed further than usual over the heads of the Histon defence and Sole was on hand in the box to tuck a finish past goalkeeper Naisbitt.
The nervous home side were at sixes and sevens as their support sensed another defeat but as luck would have it, they did not need to dwell on a two-goal deficit for more than two minutes as Nathaniel Knight-Percival set up Jack Midson who finished from close range.
Now it was the Fleet’s turn to be nervous and Histon pressed forward with more purpose. On 37 minutes, the home side produced a fluid move involving Knight-Percival, the dogged Neil Andrews and Barker which ended with Danny Wright just clearing the crossbar with a header.
Five minutes later and Histon produced another stunner, this time with the right result as Barker swept a marvellous curling shot from 25 yards that flew past Cronin into the top corner.
A rather dejected-looking Fleet emerged in the second-half and Daish sacrificed Sole for Charles on 56 minutes as he looked to shore up a somewhat lightweight Fleet. But with the rain teeming down, Charles was unable to prevent Histon grabbing a third on the hour. This time it was Matthew Langston who benefitted from a weak headed clearance and he chipped the ball over Cronin and it looped into the net.
Three minutes later Langston again threatened, sending Gwillim’s decent cross into Cronin’s arms and by now Histon’s strike force had clearly shrugged off their recent patchy form. But Gwillim’s next assist produced the fourth goal on 72 minutes. A Stevens foul allowed Histon a free-kick and Gwillim sent it in, Midson’s head doing the damage as he grabbed his goal second of the night.
A double substitution, Long and West entering the fray, failed to spark the Fleet into life and by now it was all Histon. Andrews shot just wide on 85 minutes and then in the second minute of injury time the Stutes grabbed a somewhat flattering fifth, substitute Lee Roache and Craig Pope breaking. With the Fleet outnumbered at the back, Roache unselfishly laid the ball left for Wright and he shot home from 10 yards.
A scoreline such as this on an evening such as this was always on the cards for the Fleet given their punishing few weeks, though Daish will be disappointed with it having led by two goals. But Histon proved to be much the stronger and hungrier side once their initial jitters had died down and they were fortunate enough to be facing a makeshift Fleet side as they sought to overcome their own doubts.
TEAM: Cronin, Stevens (Long 73), Hawkins, Pooley, Crooks, Ricketts, Henry, Yussuff (West 73), Purcell, Ibe, Sole (Charles 56). Subs not used: Mott, Judge.