Slough Town 0-1 Fleet

The Fleet bid farewell to March by heading over the 90-point mark for the season to cement their top spot as the final month approaches.

The win came courtesy of a fine individual effort from Dominic Poleon who launched his shot past goalkeeper Will Dennis with 20 minutes left to settle this live BT Sport affair in the visitors’ favour.

The only downside for the Fleet was a nasty looking injury to Rakish Bingham just before Poleon decided the game and news of the extent of that will be eagerly awaited by the Fleet’s management team. Nonetheless, Dennis Kutrieb’s side are now only two wins from their target as a jubilant Fleet following headed home early to monitor other results.

There were three changes for the visitors with returns for Joe Martin, Ben Chapman and Toby Edser against a Slough side handing Bromley loanee George Alexander his debut.

The early kick-off had given the wind little chance to blow itself out and the gusty conditions were in full effect by 12.30. That did little to help Lee Togwell’s early fresh-air hit as Slough ventured into the Fleet box to create the first opening of the game.

Luke O’Neill’s deflected effort on seven minutes won Fleet their first corner that reached Poleon at the far post but he could only head that up and over before Alexander’s ambitious first-time lob at the other end cleared the bar.

Slough dug in and kept the Fleet restricted to their own half, with former red Johnny Goddard threatening the odd run into the box from the right but the home side didn’t really fashion a solid chance for all that.

Indeed it was the Fleet who came closest on 22 minutes, an attack by Chapman down the right bouncing in the box for Poleon who had to stretch to get a touch but it hit the woodwork and ran kindly for Will Dennis to dive on the ball as Josh Wright lurked.

It was another 15 minutes before Dennis was in action again, this time to tip over Bingham’s shot after Fleet had spread play from right to left and back again. But Slough responded almost immediately on the counterattack, Matt Lench away down the Fleet left and it needed a double intervention from Christian N’Guessan and Chapman to snuff out that threat.

Bingham’s quick feet and determined run helped Chapman feed Wright for another shot on target but Dennis dealt with that easily enough as the teams departed, the blank scoreline an appropriate enough return for an even half of football.

The wind had died down and the sun was out for the second-half but it continued in much the same vein as the first, neither side having sight of goal until 10 minutes when Bingham’s attempt from outside the box flew into Dennis’s arms.

Alexander struck a speculative effort from distance that rose across the face of Cousins’ goal and the Fleet keeper had to punch another clear from a free-kick but the chance for the three points didn’t materialise for either set of players or supporters.

Right on the hour mark, the red half thought it had, however. Chris Solly picked Edser out as Fleet played through the middle and he slipped a pass behind the defence for Bingham to run on to. The No.9 slid his shot to the far post out of Dennis’s reach but it curved away from the bottom corner, grazing the post and Slough cleared.

That was to be Bingham’s final contribution, however, as he slipped on the surface running through for the next attack and couldn’t continue with obvious pain to his achilles, to be replaced by Franklin Domi.

Any thoughts that Fleet might be blunted by the loss of one striker were blown out of the water by their other striker. Inevitably, it was Poleon who made the breakthrough on 68 minutes, a goal unlike most he has scored in his 34 so far this season. Outside the box he set off in pursuit of Wright’s pass, cutting infield and eyeing the top corner and as he neared the 18-yard line he let fly with a sublime effort that sped off his boot to billow the roof of the net.

Cousins preserved the lead 10 minutes later as Slough tried to make the most from a number of set pieces and balls into the box. From one of those, Alexander rose highest and Cousins had to fling himself wide to send the ball on another course.

The Fleet defended confidently as those balls kept coming and while it might have been nervous on the sidelines, the players on the pitch did their jobs. They might even have extended the lead in the six minutes of time added on when N’Guessan had a run through on goal but the one was enough to send the Fleet into April in the finest of fettle.

EUFC: Cousins, O’Neill, Martin, Solly, N’Guessan, Wright, Chapman (McQueen 75), Cundle, Edser (Clifford 86), Bingham (Domi 65), Poleon. Subs: Finney, Hollis
STFC: Dennis, Jackman, Woodhouse (George 70), Bush, Dandy, Togwell (Owen 83), Lench, Goddard, Davies (Obi 72), Eweka, Alexander. Subs: Benyon, Burgess
Attendance: 1,211

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