Kettering finish well to record 3-0 victory…
Fleet fell to their third 3-0 defeat of the season in familiar circumstances at Kettering, having begun well but ended the 90 minutes clearly second best.
Liam Daish handed player-coach Paul McCarthy his first game of the season, the former skipper having alluded midweek to pulling his boots on again. He set up in the middle alongside Leon Crooks, Darius Charles slotting in at left-back and Dean Pooley dropping tot he bench. Gavin Heeroo also missed out on a starting place for the first time this season, Ricky Shakes getting the nod ahead of him.
And the visitors enjoyed a good early spell, with Luis Cumbers almost profiting as early as the fourth minute when a move down the right saw Shakes cross but the Gillingham loanee somehow shinned the effort over the bar from close range.
But the home side, third in the table at start of play, imposed themselves quickly after an early setback and after wasting a number of opportunities with wild finishes over the bar, they made sure of the first goal on 33 minutes. Greg Taylor cut into the box and he slid the ball into Moses Ashikodi who slammed it past Lance Cronin.
Kettering settled into their stride almost immediately after the break and Lee Fowler put a low cross along the Fleet six-yard box that just evaded the onrushing Ashikodi. Cronin had a busy period, saving from Francis Green’s long shot after the home side had broken quickly downfield. He then parried Mustapha Carayol’s effort which came back off the post as Mark Cooper’s side threatened to overwhelm a struggling Fleet side.
The visitors did get some relief, Salmon and Welsh combining well to get around the Kettering defence and supply Shakes whose header was well held by former Sittingbourne goalkeeer Lee Harper. After that McCarthy skied one shot over the bar as the Fleet enjoyed a 10-minute spell of pressure.
But that was over as soon as Kettering stepped up a gear and Green got the final touch from six yards as he turned inside two Fleet defenders on 77 minutes to make it 2-0. They put the icing on the cake five minutes later when substitute Jean-Paul Marna sped down the right and crossed for James Jennings and Patrick Noubissie but neither player needed to intervene as Crooks could do little but bundle the ball over his own goalline to make the Fleet goal difference even less of a welcome statistic than it had been prior to kick-off.
“We didn’t defend the first two goals very well,” said Liam Daish at the end of the game. “And we had no end product.” Fleet fans could well find those two sentences encapsulate the entire season so far.
TEAM: Cronin, Salmon (Heeroo 63), Charles, Crooks, McCarthy, Bailey, Welsh, Shakes, Wills, Vieira (Ginty 78), Cumbers. Subs not used: Lamprell, Pooley.