Fleet got the win their precarious position absolutely demanded with a superb first-half response and a stalwart second-half stand that brought them to within five points of their opponents.
Josh Umerah equalised a dubious early Maidenhead goal and Gozie Ugwu fired two efforts within a minute of each other on the half-hour for the points. With a couple of changes forced on him by injury, Kevin Watson named Michael Timlin for his debut while Jamie Grimes, Jermaine McGlashan, Ugwu and Umerah also started. Ayo Obileye and Marvel Ekpiteta were out injured while John Goddard, Tomi Adeloye and Andre Blackman stepped down.
Fleet kept possession well from the kick-off and soon settled into a rhythm but it was the home side who carved out the more useful chances. Only two minutes were on the clock when Josh Kelly broke clear from the left flank and shot across David Gregory’s goal, the ball skipping wide to the relief of the visitors.
Gregory’s clearance a few minutes later then cannoned off Danny Whitehall and looped up, enabling the Fleet keeper to scoop it back within his grasp.
But the home side took the lead on nine minutes. Lawrie Wilson did well to steer away one attack for a corner but from that set piece, Jaydn Mundle-Smith steered the ball home, though with more than a hint of a foul on Gregory.
Indeed Gregory didn’t recover from it, stretchered from the field with badly bruised ribs after five minutes of treatment, to be replaced by Jordan Holmes.
Fleet responded well, however, and Frankie Sutherland found Umerah with a through ball but the shot was easy enough for Taye Ashby-Hammond.
But the striker went one better on 17 minutes. Fleet won possession on halfway and Mekki advanced down the left with few options open to him. However, he kept the ball superbly and managed to thread it through to Umerah 15 yards out. Despite being marked, he turned and swung a superb curling shot to the far post beyond the goalkeeper.
Fleet kept coming and Ugwu thumped a low effort just wide that skipped up in the six-yard box. He was inches away from controlling another through ball before Mekki’s upbeat wing play earned a third corner.
But as the half-hour ticked round, Ugwu shot to life. Mekki again was in the thick of things, a battling, patient run across the final third ending with a delightful ball into the box. Ugwu brought it down, the goal opened up for him and he buried a fine effort into the roof of the net.
He wasn’t done there. Straight from the restart, Ugwu won possession from a poor back pass. He kept his head to swerve in and out of the Magpies defence, roared beyond the back line and smashed a shot past the hapless Ashby-Hammond for 3-1.
Umerah had half a chance for a fourth as Ashby-Hammond almost came undone in kicking a clearance but that one went the goalkeeper’s way.
Maidenhead came back to life towards the final five minutes and the six of time added on, a late corner causing apprehension but Fleet saw it out to protect their two-goal lead.
The opening moments of the second half were quiet enough which suited the Fleet and they defended well up the pitch, seeing off a few early set pieces.
But the home side began to look hungrier for the ball and Fleet had to concentrate at the back as a couple of free-kicks were conceded in the final third.
Umerah had a couple of runs on the break and dispossessed Massey on the edge of his box but were starved of further chances, with Mekki’s influence waning as Maidenhead clamped down on him, he and McGlashan with increasing full-back duties. And those they performed solidly.
The visitors had some considerable defending to do in the final 10 minutes as Maidenhead turned the screw. James Akintunde belted two decent efforts goalwards that Holmes parried and there were a couple of heart-stopping moments from corners that bounced off legs, bodies and if Maidenhead appeals were to be believed, arms too.
But while Fleet had to defend, it was from a positive, firm line and the three points were well protected to the delight of the travelling fans who endured a few relegation taunts across the 90 minutes… but they’re not done yet!
EUFC: Gregory (Holmes 16), Wilson, Grimes, King, Timlin, Sutherland (Egan 89), Payne, McGlashan, Mekki, Ugwu, Umerah (Adeloye). Subs not used: Goddard, Blackman
MUFC: Ashby-Hammond, Clerima, Sheckleford, Massey, Smile (Alfa 72), Mundle-Smith, Comley, Upward, Fenelon (Akintunde 65), Kelly, Whitehall. Subs not used: Dunn, Steer, Smith