Tristan’s Tomi triumph

Fleet boss Kevin Watson sent some credit assistant manager Tristan Lewis’s way after his right-hand man urged the substitution that changed the game just past the hour mark on Tuesday night.

With Fleet trailing to a penalty, Woking might have hoped to coast home with the points, but then came the joy from Adeloye.

“Tomi’s come on and made an unbelievable difference for us tonight,” Watson told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “And I will give Tristan credit for that. Sometimes I get caught up in the game and you can’t see the wood for the trees and he just said, what about Tomi?

“We had a little think about it, we thought where we could play him, thought about who would come off. It took about five minutes before we settled on it but I think Tomi’s been at his most effective playing just behind the front. I just said to him when he came off, that’s how you stay in the team.

“He’s probably called me all the names under the sun the last few weeks, not playing him. However, he has made an impact as a substitute and how do you leave someone out who’s come on and won you the game like that? It wasn’t just his two goals, he put a couple of good crosses in the box, he settled the game down at times, knew when to take a touch, run us up the pitch. It needed a bit of that.”

It certainly did, with Fleet looking like they might waste the opportunity of this rescheduled fixture.

“We’ve been waiting for this game in hand to take place for weeks,” said Watson. “There were no fixtures [tonight] where teams were going to gain any points on you, it was all about what you could take from it and we took the maximum and it gives us a chance. It makes the result at Torquay even more important, four points from six. Two extremely tough games against two good teams. This group of players don’t know when they’re beaten and I’m proud of them tonight.

” I’m sure most people in the ground would have thought when we went 1-0 down to a team that’s going quite well and pushing for the play-offs, with the position we’re in, that would have been it. But these boys are playing for me, they’re playing for us, playing for their futures and it was outstanding.”

The Fleet players have responded well since the year got off to that bumpy start at Barrow and Watson is pleased with their new resolve – especially when finishing the game with 11 men on the pitch.

“The last couple of games we’ve stopped playing the handicap system where we play with 10 and the other team play with 11,” he joked. “So I’m pleased with that. We had to calm Tomi down tonight. It’s sometimes a willingness to just win and a little bit of over-exuberance but three games on the trot was a bit strong. The last two games we’ve kept the top goalscorer in the league quiet at Torquay and tonight we’ve scrapped and fought against a Woking team that had a very good result at the weekend against Yeovil.

“If that doesn’t give you confidence, beating a team seventh and a point or two outside the play-offs… We’ve never stopped believing. I knew it was a challenge when I came in but it wasn’t one I was going to pass up. This in many aspects has tested me but when your boys produce performances like that, then it makes it very worthwhile indeed.”

And while Watson knows a lot of what Fleet supporters have been watching isn’t always the prettiest, he says there are mitigating circumstances at home.

“I won’t say it was two evenly matched sides because I thought the game was poor,” he admitted. “It lacked a lot of quality. For anyone who’s been on that pitch, that’s not the way I will ever want my teams to play but we’ve got to take the risk out of the game on there because it is a poor playing surface. We can’t play on it the way I’d like to so therefore we’re going to play in the other team’s half and get rid of the risk of losing the ball in our own half. Tonight the boys carried it out. It’s not pretty to watch but I don’t care because it’s three points.

“We played extremely well Saturday, didn’t create loads of chances but the organisation, the clean sheet, the point, the steely grit and determination, I was hopeful we could back it up. There’s a lot of good players in both these sides but if you go on that pitch, I defy anyone to try and start knocking the ball around and playing round the back and playing pretty passing football. It’s sometimes horses for courses.”

Watson once again suffered personnel losses with Jack King injured and Josh Payne’s suspension extended – and that’s without the ongoing saga surrounding new signing Michael Timlin. So does that have an end in sight?

“Not at the moment,” the manager revealed. “So from the day that bill’s paid it will be seven days. It’s an embargo of seven days and I’m pretty sure from my knowledge of it, it’s an embargo that once the outstanding bill is paid, it will be seven days from then. So we’re hopeful that that money will be paid, there will be a resolution to it and we can get a very good player in a red Ebbsfleet shirt before too long.”

Listen below.


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