Fleet at least dispelled the notion they were mere pushovers at league leaders Newport County, going down to a solitary first-half goal and pushing the home side all the way in the second.
Liam Daish named an unchanged starting line-up, with only Neil Barrett’s place on the bench at the expense of Adam Williams the only difference from Saturday’s squad. Fleet started well, with Tom Phipp firing one of his trademark shots over from a corner after 9 minutes and Preston Edwards wasn’t called into serious action until Ben Swallow’s 21st-minute effort.
Former loanee Jefferson Louis replaced the injured Danny Crow on 28 minutes for the home side and two minutes after that they were in front, Ismail Yakubu’s downward header from an Andy Sandell corner beating Edwards who might have wondered how the big defender had found the space to pick a spot.
But for league leaders, Newport didn’t really step up a gear and put Fleet under the expected pressure. Indeed Nathan Elder could have added a perfect tonic on the stroke of half-time when he got on the end of a Louie Soares free-kick but planted his effort straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.
Come the second half and Fleet’s self-belief seemed to increase a notch, though they lost Ram Marwa to what looked like another knock, Barrett coming on in his place. Paul Lorraine and Patrick Ada did a good job of marshalling hotshot striker Aaron O’Connor while Soares was giving the visitors an outlet out wide. Soares forced Lenny Pidgeley into conceding a corner on 53 minutes and the goalkeeper got down smartly to block Ada from the set piece.
Liam Enver-Marum and Phil Walsh – against his former club – were introduced as Fleet’s determination to grab an equaliser was evident.