On this day: March 13th

Our final game this season has now ultimately proven to be at Welling United… and indeed this very afternoon we were due to complete the return match at the Kuflink Stadium.

Instead, with the 2020/21 season officially nulled and voided, we look back on three games on this day in our history, one of which coincidentally included a home match v Welling United, two decades ago.

13th March 2001
Fleet 3-2 Welling United
Fleet defended the Kent Senior Cup we’d won in 1999/2000 with this narrow victory at the quarter-final stage. Unbeaten in the competition for more than two years, a strong Fleet side including future Portsmouth goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown (pictured above) making his debut on loan from Reading navigated a tricky tie against Welling United. An inconsistent Fleet needed extra-time to beat Welling as Rob Owen, Che Stadhart and Jimmy Jackson – three stalwarts of the side that was to win the Ryman League title the following season – were on the scoresheet in front of 258 at Stonebridge Road. Twice Welling responded from two down though Fleet lost skipper Scott Lindsey to a red card on the hour mark. Steve Restarick hit the upright in extra-time before five minutes from a penalties decider, Jackson let rip with a touch of class as his thunderbolt found the back of the net. Fleet went on to beat Folkestone Invicta in the semi-finals and then trounced higher-division Dover Athletic 4-0 in the final at Crabble for the second of three successive Kent Senior Cup triumphs.

13th March 1948
Fleet 3-3 Bromley
Another Kent Senior Cup tie and another three goals scored for the Fleet, this 1948 semi-final replay clash against then amateur side Bromley, high fliers in the Athenian League, was watched by a considerable 5,500 crowd at Stonebridge Road. A week before the two sides had met at Dartford in front of 6,199 and battled out a 2-2 draw, leading to this replay. Local hero Len ‘Truxy’ Wakeman had scored both goals at Bromley and he got all three in this game to claim the match ball this time around. The first tie had gone to extra-time and this one went to what was called “double extra-time” of a further hour but still neither side could be separated. Bromley fielded two England Amateur internationals as well as Stan and Gilbert Aldous who were to move to Stonebridge Road later that year, Gilbert lifting the club’s first ever piece of silverware in 1949.

With the two sides still deadlocked, a second replay was called for, played at Maidstone United seven days later and another huge crowd – 5,580 this time – saw Fleet edge it 2-1 after 365 minutes of football to move into the club’s first ever final, where we lost 1-0 to Gillingham, some 11,800 watching that one at Priestfield. It meant just shy of 30,000 people had viewed our semi-finals and final in the county cup that season.

Len Wakeman – five goals in two games v Bromley in March 1948

13th March 1982
AP Leamington 3-3 Fleet
The Fleet’s battle against relegation from the Alliance Premier League took a turn for the worst as basement boys AP Leamington, who had won just one home game all season, managed to hold Stan Harland’s men to a 3-3 draw. Former Torquay and Dover striker Gary Pugh claimed a hat-trick, his second of the season, and he edged Fleet in front twice, the last time with 10 minutes to go. But AP fought back with a last-gasp equaliser that was to prove costly by the end of the season. Fleet ended the game two places and three points clear of the drop zone but having played four or five games more than third-from-bottom Maidstone United. It was a challenge we’d ultimately fail on the final day of the season, 350 miles from home at Barrow, as we were relegated on goal difference from our first stint at Alliance Premier/Conference/National League level. Making that last-minute AP Leamington equaliser on this day all the more frustrating!

Gary Pugh was the first Fleet player to score a hat-trick in the top tier of non-league

Other games on March 13th:
1954 Fleet 2-1 Tonbridge (Att: 1,714) / Baker, Cullum
1965 Ramsgate 2-0 Fleet (Att: 735)
1976 Margate 1-2 Fleet (Att: 474) / Woolfe, Brown
1990 Fleet 2-1 Dorchester Town / Blewden, Bowey
1993 Margate 2-0 Fleet (Att: 607)
1999 Purfleet 2-1 Fleet (Att: 253) / Booth
2004 Fleet 1-1 Barnet (Att: 1,516) / Moore
2007 Stafford Rangers 3-1 Fleet (Att: 524) / Varney
2010 Crawley Town 2-1 Fleet (Att: 983) / Ashikodi
2012 Fleet 0-5 Wrexham (Att: 990)

Pl: 13 / W: 4 / D: 3 / L: 6


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