Lincoln’s Simon Russell had promised before today’s game that his side were ready to give someone a hiding and while Fleet weren’t quite thrashed, the 3-0 result and a second sending-off of the season for Yado Mambo was far from encouraging for Liam Daish and his side.
Looking to get the Darlington game out of their system, the Fleet instead conceded three goals for the second week running. And they could have conceded the first of those early on when Preston Edwards thwarted Conal Platt by saving with his legs after the former Cambridge and FGR man had reacted faster than the Fleet defence.
But the Fleet didn’t stay on the back foot and Nathaniel Pinney got a shot in on five minutes while Calum Willock’s effort was blocked by Josh Gowling on 14. Minutes after that, the referee earned the wrath of the Fleet bench for the first – but not only – time of the afternoon as he booked Ram Marwa and Paul Lorraine inside 100 seconds of each other after both had fouled Kyle Perry.
The home side enjoyed good possession going forward but seemed to lack confidence in front of goal as Russell twice got sight of goal but dwelled too long on the ball. Platt, however, continued to look a threat and he blasted a high shot just wide of the post on 24 minutes while at the other end Michael West was denied by a fine challenge from an Imps defender who then cleared a Ricky Shakes corner.
But Fleet went behind on 38 minutes as Platt’s initial effort was blocked but he got to the loose ball and looped a shot round Edwards from 18 yards. Pinney did his best to haul the visitors back into things as he broke free and bore down on goal but Paul Farman did well to spread himself and take the edge of the Fleet striker’s shot.
Lincoln were far from comfortable at 1-0 up, however, and Fleet enjoyed a spell in the second half after Edwards had taken the sting out of the Imps with two saves from Perry and John Nutter. With Liam Enver-Marum and Tom Phipp introduced on the hour mark, the former unleashed a trademark distance shot that Farman had to tip over as the visitors upped the tempo. Having found his range, Enver-Marum repeated the trick on 71 minutes with another dipping effort that Farman pushed onto the crossbar.
Just as it looked as the Fleet might wrestle an equaliser from the home side, they instead fell further behind. On 74 minutes a free-kick was lofted towards Russell who was allowed too much time to position himself to crash the ball home for 2-0. Things went from bad to worse five minutes later when Power got on the end of Platt’s long ball and as he threatened to outstrip Mambo, the Fleet defender bundled him over. As last man, it was enough for the referee to issue the Charlton loanee’s second red of the season.
Fleet might have hoped to retreat and lick their wounds there and then but there was still more pain. Up stepped former Fleet loan defender Nutter and he rifled a shot that brushed the wall on its flight path to goal.
All that was left for the Fleet was Ian Simpemba to get some match time given his likely inclusion against Kidderminster at Mambo’s expense. And a long trip home to dwell on how the last 180 minutes of football can be turned around in time for Tuesday night.
TEAM: Edwards, Stone, Howe, Lorraine, Mambo, Marwa, Barrett (Phipp 61), West, Shakes (Enver-Marum 61), Willock (Simpemba 81), Pinney. Subs not used: Welch, Herd.
Preston Edwards won man of the match v Darlington. Vote for today’s using drop-down menu above.