Daryl McMahon knew his players had to be right on their game against an opposition who had top spot in their sights at start of play on Saturday and he thought his side grew into the game after a steady start.
“It was a bit tit-for-tat for both teams but they had the opportunity from the edge of the box, we had Darren McQueen when he got through,” the Fleet boss told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “As the half grew on I thought we got stronger and I thought we started off the second half very well and managed, as we did last week, that last 15 minutes really well.
“We shut the door but we countered really well and if anyone was going to score, it was probably going to be us again.”
Sean Shields was the hero with two goals but McMahon credited his defence as well, their third clean sheet in succession being the foundation on which his side can build.
“Three clean sheets in a row has been key to that,” he said. “We defended ever so well against a good side, we can’t lose sight of the fact that if Halifax do win today they probably go top of the table so they were on a good run themselves and we had to perform well both in and out of possession.
“In those draws [we were getting], I think we were making little errors that you hope would get stamped out but we were always creating chances and were normally scoring goals and I’m pleased for the players, they work so hard day to day and they’re finally now putting on performances and getting the points they all believe they deserve.”
Dean Rance was key to protecting the defence, according to McMahon, who praised the Fleet midfielder’s ability to break up opposition play in the final third. “If Sean didn’t get two goals, Dean Rance probably would have got man of the match for me,” McMahon said. “I thought he defended well, got in front of Denton, their big man, from set pieces to make it awkward for him. He won many tackles and put out many fires and he’s been excellent today.”
Shields, of course, was the headline maker and McMahon wants the winger to harness that performance to really push his game forward. “He’s been out injured and I just had a feeling today,” the manager explained. “He’s been outstanding in training this week. He’s looked sharp and bright and I thought he brought that on to the pitch today. Two good finishes, we want more goals from him. Over the period of time here he’s threatened to get goals, he probably hasn’t quite and he’s got to build on that performance as well. Without a doubt he can play at this level, he can player higher in terms of ability. But now mentally and physically he’s got to take that performance on and become a big player.”
It’s Solihull Moors up next for Fleet’s first game at Damson Park since their one and only appearance there in 1995. McMahon will await Monday’s training session to assess the fitness of Andy Drury whose tight calf led to his precautionary substitution, while Darren McQueen had a sore knee after taking a blow to it, but the Fleet boss will hope neither of those two injuries curtails his players for very long.
Listen to the full interview here.