Maidenhead Utd 1 Fleet 1

Ashley Carew’s free kick is not quite enough to claim maximum points at York Road…

Fleet notched up their 15th consecutive match unbeaten and protected their away record once more but couldn’t claim more than a point at Maidenhead this afternoon.

Liam Daish was forced into his first change for seven games with Joe Howe replacing the suspended Derek Duncan while there was a welcome sight of long-term hamstring victim Scott Ginty on the bench.

Looking to avenge their opening-day defeat to the home side, the Fleet certainly had the impetus after Tuesday’s 4-0 thrashing of Welling. But this match started – and continued – at a much more sedate pace and there was little of note happening in the opening stages.

Preston Edwards gathered a low Sam Collins shot in the early minutes while on 11 minutes, Calum Willock’s effort was blocked and then saved by goalkeeper Steve Williams. Five minutes later Michael West steamed in at the far post to get on the end of Ashley Carew’s cross but he couldn’t direct it on target.

Willock tried his luck again on 26 minutes with a shot that Williams pounced upon right on the line. But 10 minutes later the Fleet went one better. Ricky Shakes was upended 25 yards out and after something of an inquest about who was going to take the free-kick, Carew drove an unstoppable shot into the top right of the goal.

Maidenhead almost responded on 39 minutes when Alex Wall smashed goalwards an equally impressive free-kick and shortly afterwards the same player had a decent penalty claim when he went down under Howe’s challenge on the edge of the box. Home fans were outraged as the referee appeared about to award it then changed his mind.

On the stroke of half-time the home side pressed again, Ashley Nicholls loosing off a shot that deflected off Howe and troubled Edwards into a save.

The second half continued in much the same vein with plenty of bodies in midfield but little flair on show. However, Maidenhead’s equaliser on 59 minutes arrived courtesy of no little technique from defender Bruce Wilson who volleyed a great shot that swerved beyond Edwards.

The Fleet struggled to stamp much authority on the game and the Magpies improved as the half wore on. The impressive Wall was making his presence felt attacking down the Fleet left and on 71 minutes the home side came close to edging ahead when Bradley Quamina’s ball in caused all sorts of bother in the Fleet defence and when Edwards misjudged it, Craig Stone had to be alert to hack clear.

Gareth Williams entered the fray after that and Fleet had plenty of attacking options but little cutting edge. That said, Willock worked one of his trademark turns and fired off a shot on 76 minutes that had the goalkeeper scrabbling across his line. Carew went close with another free kick four minutes after that but couldn’t repeat his feat of the first half while Williams twice saw shots go either side of the post.

A well-worked move five minutes from time saw Shakes and Ram Marwa combine to play in Tom Phipp who couldn’t keep his far-post header down and it just cleared the crossbar. And substitute Ginty, a welcome sight for Fleet fans, almost steered home Paul Lorraine’s knockdown in the dying minutes.

Fleet applied a fair bit of pressure as the seconds ticked away but both sides were finally forced to settle for the draw.

TEAM: Edwards, Stone, Howe, Carew, Easton, Lorraine, West (Williams 73), Marwa, Willock, Shakes (Ginty 87), Phipp. Subs not used: Hagan, Henry, Pooley.
Att: 325

Ram Marwa won Tuesday’s man of the match with almost 30% of the vote. Who edged it today? [ CLICK HERE ]

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