Three games running have Fleet now scored three goals and four games running has Ashley Carew found the back of the net.
But tonight he went one better by grabbing a brace as his side picked up three valuable points to climb to second in the table and put a little daylight between themselves and Eastleigh in sixth place.
On paper, this tie looked like a potential banana skin with Lewes on a run of three wins and with Liam Daish facing something of an injury crisis as he was forced into four changes, losing Michael West, Ryan Blake and Craig Stone and welcoming back Preston Edwards in place of Daren Hawkes. In came Derek Duncan, Gareth Williams, Ricky Shakes and, in place of Tom Phipp on the bench, Conor Okus. Also on the bench was new signing Jacob Erskine.
Lewes certainly cannot be accused of having no sense of humour as they had spruced up The Dripping Pan with Christmas decorations to reflect the “Boxing Day” nature of this tie which had been postponed from December 26. And in damp, dismal conditions Lewes appeared to be in the more festive mood as they chased three points to lift them out of the relegation zone.
Fleet came under early bombardment as Joe Tabiri took down Rory Hill’s pass but fired just wide and the home side enjoyed a succession of set pieces that tested the defence. But as the visitors withstood the pressure, so they forced Lewes back and the irrepressible Ricky Shakes was unfortunate to see his effort turned away by goalkeeper Chris Winterton.
Fleet started to gain a little momentum and Duncan was getting forward, exposing the Lewes rearguard with several decent crosses which almost set up Gareth Williams inside the box. Calum Willock was then guilty of missing a gilt-edged chance as his header came off the woodwork as he aimed to plant the ball in an empty net.
Lewes stepped things up again and the impressive Tabiri was linking well with Gary Noel, who had previously caught the eye against Fleet in a pre-season friendly for Croydon. But on 38 minutes, Fleet deservedly edged ahead as Carew took advantage of a hesitant defensive line to drag a pass into space and fire past Winterton for 1-0.
The second half was a hard-fought affair with Lewes enjoying midfield possession as Fleet wrestled manfully to get the ball out of their half. Ex-Fleet winger Ishmael Welsh was thrown into the action and although initially troubling the defenders and linking up well with Noel, the home side lacked a cutting edge. Instead it was the Fleet who showed theirs in the dying minutes when first, on 86 minutes, substitute Erskine helped Willock capitalise on more poor defending to rifle home his 20th goal of the season and then on the stroke of full-time, Carew applied the coup de grace as the Fleet caught Lewes on the break and romped upfield to seal their victory.
This will be a sweet three points for Liam Daish who had earmarked this game as one for his side to show people “what they are really about” and, though somewhat harsh on Lewes, the 3-0 result will illustrate to the trailing group of teams exactly what this Fleet squad are about.
TEAM: Edwards, Howe, Duncan, Okus, Easton, Lorraine, Carew, Marwa, Willock, G Williams (Erskine 78), Shakes (Phipp 85). Subs not used: Hawkes, Sherlock, Adam Williams.
Ryan Blake beat Ashley Carew by a single vote for Basingstoke MotM. Vote now for tonight’s…