The second clash with Warrington Town proved to be even less memorable for the Fleet than our first ever meeting as the visitors crashed out of this Buildbase FA Trophy replay to two second-half goals that sent the Evostik Premier side into the last 16 and a tie at Wealdstone.
There was to be no fairytale 10th anniversary Trophy run as Fleet were left with too much to do in little more than 20 minutes once Jamie McDonald had netted the goal to give Warrington a more comfortable cushion than they’d enjoyed going into the closing stages of Saturday’s match.
Daryl McMahon made four changes, bringing in Jack Connors, Jack Payne, Andy Drury and Aaron McLean in place of Chris Bush, Dean Rance, Jack Powell and Luke Coulson. The Yellows named the same side and bench but looked like they might succumb early on to a rejigged and initially rejuvenated Fleet. The visitors clearly aimed to put more pressure on young goalkeeper Ben Ascroft and he was busy inside the opening 20 minutes.
The goalkeeper saved from Sean Shields in the fourth minute and then had to be alert to a powerful effort from Danny Kedwell three minutes later before seeing out the danger from a McLean delivery. Fleet’s movement was brisker and they enjoyed much of the possession but failed to turn those chances into goals and instead of testing Ascroft, the next three chances went off target.
Warrington grew into the game and winger Devarn Green, so effective at the Kuflink Stadium, was once again proving to be the danger man for the yellow shirts. He sent in a few testing deliveries before withdrawing on the half-hour mark when an earlier hamstring problem failed to disappear. His absence didn’t upset Warrinton’s increasing rhythm, however, and they enjoyed a number of set pieces, though ultimately wasted them all.
A free-kick for the Fleet at the other end saw Ascroft fumble the ball but it was under pressure from McLean and the referee blew for a foul.
Fleet needed to start the second-half on top to counter Warrington’s growing confidence but the home side were the sharper and they took the lead just five minutes after the restart. Impressive former Notts County player Will Hayhurst grappled for the ball in midfield and he found McDonald under pressure who fed the ball back to strike partner Tony Gray. From just outside the box, the Warrington man swept the ball home and Fleet found themselves behind for the second time in the tie.
One goal should have been two four minutes later when Hayhurst’s inswinging corner was flicked on by Gray and landed at the feet of Liam Goulding who somehow managed to turn the chance over the bar from close range. At the other end, Fleet could have been back in it when Ascroft managed to get a hand to McLean’s bright effort as it threatened to roll past him.
Coulson was introduced for Weston just before the hour point and Fleet went close to equalising minutes later. A couple of corners were earned and there were several decent moves put together. From one, Shields’ found some room to fizz a shot goalwards that Ascroft could only block but with teammate Adam Carden in attendance, they managed to steer the loose ball to safety with McLean agonisingly close to converting. But from that near miss, Fleet conceded again. A speedy break caught the visitors cold and Gray powered through the middle. He found Hayhurst whose shot was parried by Ashmore but only as far as McDonald and his striker’s instinct left no room for error and it was 2-0.
A move to a three-man defence, with Powell brought on to supplement the attacking midfield element of Fleet’s game reaped few rewards with 20 minutes left. The visitors continued to pass the ball around the Warrington midfield but they couldn’t muster another meaningful chance and the arrears never looked in much danger of being reduced.
EUFC: Ashmore, Wilson (Powell 72), Connors (Bush 72), Winfield, Magri, Payne, Drury, Shields, Weston (Coulson 57), Kedwell, McLean. Subs not used: Rance, Jordan
WTFC: Ascroft, Carden, McKeown, Williams, McCarten, Goulding, Green (Kinsella 33), Vassallo, McDonald, Gray (Bakkor 88), Hayhurst (Beeley 82). Subs not used. Barnes, Milne.