Wrexham are just a point off the top of the table but they’ll know they had a certain amount of good fortune in getting there after securing a 2-0 win over the Fleet, with both goals hotly disputed by the visitors. Chris Holroyd bagged them both, the first an effort that was deemed to have crossed the line and the second after a penalty decision that will surely be looked at again in Fleet’s post-match video analysis.
Aside from the goals, Fleet matched their hosts for large periods of the first half and looked positive for an equaliser in the second, hitting the post before Wrexham wrapped up the points with their converted spot kick.
Daryl McMahon named an unchanged starting lineup, though Chris Bush replaced Marvin McCoy on the bench, against a Wrexham side that hadn’t lost a League game in six.
There was little in the game for the opening 25 minutes, with Fleet seeking to frustrate Wrexham and largely succeeding, with home fans early on imploring their side to get forward. They struggled to do that with their setup and Fleet earned a couple of corners and Myles Weston saw a shot charged down. Nathan Ashmore made his first save on nine minutes when Paul Rutherford played in Akil Wright and his cross was well gathered by the Fleet goalkeeper.
Wright was a decent outlet for Wrexham but he was caught with a poor pass forward on 21 minutes and Kedwell charged on to it and did well to hold it up but the home side managed to clear that. They broke upfield and an Alex Reid ball on to Holroyd’s head should have been despatched but he nodded it down, it lacked power and Ashmore smothered it easily.
Holroyd made up for it on 28 minutes by converting the opening goal but the assistant referee will surely claim a handy assist. Kevin Roberts advanced deep into Fleet territory from a Manny Smith through ball and his cross was a little behind Holroyd but the Wrexham striker managed to hook it goalwards. Ashmore leapt towards it and clawed it away but it wasn’t clear in that instant whether the whole ball had gone over the line and how the assistant could verify as much from his position was certainly one for discussion. Nonetheless, he confirmed it and the referee awarded the goal, Ashmore receiving a yellow card for his protests.
Fleet responded within five minutes and only a fantastic save from goalkeeper Chris Dunn kept them in it when he got down to Danny Kedwell’s quick turn and shot after a pass from Dean Rance. Dunn continued to perform well and he punched clear two more crosses into his box from Myles Weston and Anthony Cook. After the week he’d had off the field, it was then unfortunate on Yado Mambo that he retired hurt on 39 minutes, Bush replacing him.
The second half opened a little more after a first period with two very organised defences on top and the challenge for the Fleet was to unlock the division’s tightest back four while a goal behind. They made a good effort of it after the restart though still had to be wary of a Wrexham side who broke upfield quickly. On 49 minutes, the home side showed just that technique as Sam Wedgbury’s counterattack released Reid but he disappointed with a shot into the side netting.
Fleet forced another couple of corners and Kedwell had another shot well blocked by Shaun Pearson while at the other end, Rance had to mop up from another counterattack. Bradley Bubb was introduced on 64 minutes for his first league action of the season, in place of Cook, and when he and Kedwell burst into the box on 70 minutes, it seemed they’d conjured up an equaliser as a cross onto Rance’s head saw the midfielder hit the inside of the post with the Wrexham goalkeeper stranded.
The home side looked nervy as Fleet pressed and they brought on Ntumba Massanka. He put himself about up front, helping earn Wrexham their second goal. The substitute’s advanced on 75 minutes was checked by Clark but he managed a pass into Holroyd. Bush followed his run and cut across him with a foot in an attempt to sweep things up and looked to have claimed the ball but again the decision went against the Fleet and the referee awarded a penalty, which Holroyd drove home for 2-0.
Bubb could have reduced the arrears when he was left with a free header in the box but his header didn’t test Dunn and he was replaced only 20 minutes after coming on, presumably as a precaution having taken what appeared to be another knock. Coulson attempted to drive the Fleet on in the closing stages but Wrexham’s defence closed ranks and they were able to keep the visitors at arm’s length in the remaining minutes.
EUFC: Ashmore, Magri, Connors, Clark, Mambo (Bush 39), Rance, Drury, Weston, Cook (Bubb 64, Shields 83), Coulson, Kedwell. Subs not used: Powell, Miles
WFC: Dunn, Smith, Pearson, Wedgbury, Holroyd, Reid (Massanka 71), Carrington, Rutherford, Kelly (Mackreth 80), Roberts, Wright. Subs not used: Dibble, Hurst, Boden