Michael Rankine scores the only goal as the back of the net proves elusive for the Fleet’s strikers once more…
Fleet fans could probably read 80% of match reports this season and find the common theme across all of those could once again have applied this afternoon as York took one chance in a game where the Fleet competed well.
Liam Daish gave Ross Smith his first start in a Fleet shirt since May 2007 alongside Dean Pooley in the centre of defence, while Michael West, Stefan Bailey and Ricky Shakes all started.
York started with purpose on a squally afternoon, Adam Smith twice on target while Alex Lawless also forced a save from Lance Cronin on 15 minutes. Cronin was in action again three minutes later to thwart Michael Rankine and was on hand again to stop the follow-up from 14-goal striker Richard Brodie.
But the Fleet put up resistance and eased themselves back into the game without really threatening Michael Ingham in the York goal. Darius Charles tried to force some forward play from left back while Smith’s return was more competent than might be expected after his lengthy lay-off.
On the half-hour mark, however, the home side looked eager once more and began to exert pressure down the flanks, Chris Carruthers in particular showing a good turn of speed and nose for a cross. On 35 minutes he found Brodie in the box but the big striker headed wide from a good position.
A similar move three minutes later saw former Fleet favourite Neil Barrett supply Carruthers whose cross from the left found Brodie in the middle but his attempt was knocked behind by Cronin.
The writing was on the wall as the York pressure told but even they were pleasantly surprised by how quickly they breached the Fleet defence as straight from the corner, Barrett worked the ball into Lawless who in turn found Rankine 10 yards out and the former Rushden man buried a shot past Cronin.
Fleet didn’t buckle, though, and Charles shot low from the edge of the box which at least muddied Ingham’s shorts as he got down smartly to stop.
Peter Holmes and Bailey had two quick snapshots on the stroke of half-time before York wrapped up the half with a 20-yard shot from Rankine that tested Cronin. The Fleet custodian also found himself grateful to Pooley as he seemed to misjudge a long ball which his defender had to clear for a corner as he back-pedalled.
The second half was a quieter affair and Fleet fans were sorry to see Ross Smith limp off on 65 minutes. Jamie Forshaw made an appearance from the bench having returned from his loan period, but nothing seemed to stir the Fleet strikeforce into life. Vieira and Shakes had potshots without ever really getting a clear sight at goal, while Brodie had another couple of wayward efforts early in the half.
The visitors took the initiative in the final quarter, with Charles making inroads down the Fleet left but he received only applause for a low distance shot and a yellow card for a foul on Brodie for his efforts.
The focus will once again be on the Fleet’s evermore worrying statistics as they equalled two club records for goalless runs but it really is as simple as getting the ball in the net as Daish’s luckless side are not being overrun anywhere else on the field in the majority of league games this season.
TEAM: Cronin, Heeroo, Charles, Pooley, Smith (Salmon 65), Bailey, Holmes, West (Forshaw 71), Welsh (Ginty 79), Shakes, Vieira. Subs not used: Lamprell, Wills.