Fleet Town took on step three side and local rivals Hartley Wintney at Aldershot Towns ground in the Final of the Aldershot District FA Senior Cup.
Fleet did well to keep Hartley at bay in the early exchanges, but Hartley Wintney scored two goals in a four minute spell mid way through the first half, through Adam Allen and Kingsley Eshun finding the net.
Fleet needed to score first in the second half to boost their chances of getting back into the game, but within five minutes of the restart Kyen Nicholas scored for Hartley to extend their lead instead. Kyen then scored again on 62 minutes to make it 4-0 to all but settle the game. As Hartley relaxed Fleet came more into the game and almost got a goal back straight away, unluckily they saw a fine header crash into the crossbar. On 68 minutes Fleet pulled a goal back through Dan Bone, but four minutes later ex Fleet Town player, Kofi Halliday who had come on from the bench scored for Hartley to put them 5-1 ahead. Only strong defence from Hartley kept Fleet out twice more before Dan Bone headed in his second goal of the game late on to make the final score a respectful 5-2.
This game completes all Fleet Town fixtures for the 2021-22 season, but it won’t be long before players are back in training ready for some friendlies in July, amongst which should be the now annual Arthur & Eric Cup match against Hartley Wintney before an FA Cup game on 6th August and first League game (likely to be) on 13th August.
The FA have been busy this month and produced provisional allocations for steps 3 to 6 for next season, subject to appeals, so may change.
On these lists Fleet Town remain in the Combined Counties Premier South Division next season, having lost Walton & Hersham and Beckenham Town to promotion and Molesey to relegation, the FA have filled these spaces by lateral transfers moving Abbey Rangers and Tadley Calleva from the Combined Counties Premier North and Alton from the Wessex Premier Division.
The provisional lists won’t become official until they are ratified at the individual league AGMs in June.
Fleet suffered the worst start to this Cup Final when the officials awarded a Penalty to step 4 side Ashford Town (Mx) after 5 minutes, this spot kick was converted by David Pitt to give Ashford a 6th minute lead. Fleet were forced into an early change when James Dinsdale picked up a knock in contact and was replaced by Luke Larner after only 14 minutes. David Pitt came close to doubling the visitors lead when he ran from half way to close to the box before shooting, his effort cannoned off the crossbar and stayed in play for Roux Hardcastle to clear. Shortly after Thomas Brunton was able to disposes a Fleet player to take the ball forward and fire in Ashford’s second goal after 21 minutes. Ashford also had to make an early change with David Pitt going off, from the resultant free kick Dale Burnham scored goal number 3 for Ashford after only 25 minutes, bringing back thoughts to some of Fleet’s last visit to Ashford when we were both in the Southern League and Ashford scored five in each half. Slowly Fleet were getting more possession and creating openings, with half time approaching Fleet had a throw in down near the corner on the stand side, launched deep into the box, it reached the head of the in-rushing Tom Wensley but his effort flew wide, into the five minutes of added time shown at the end of the half another long throw, this time from the far side forced keeper Honey to quickly push the ball away from danger. Fleet came close from a corner kick and it needed quick feet from an Ashford defender to clear the ball off the line.
Fleet started the second half stronger and had several early chances, a shot over, another scramble and the ball cleared off the line again and the best chance fell to Dan Bone after a corner, when he managed to shoot over from inside the six yard box. Another Fleet attack saw fine inter play between Billy Oram and Dan Bone, when Dan shot the Ashford keeper went down and took the sting out of the shot but did not stop the ball but a defender got back to get the ball away for a corner. As the second half went on, Ashford looked as if they would settle for the lead they had, playing more square balls and less threat on the Fleet goal. Fleet kept trying to give the large crowd packed behind the goal something to cheer about and finally the pressure paid off when Dan Bone collected the ball after a corner and fired it into the net to send the crowd wild, after 86 minutes. There was still time for more drama, inside the four minutes of added time, Billy Oram saw the space for one of his wonder shots, it hit the outside of the far post and bounced back into play, Fleet reached the ball first and when they played the ball back towards the goal it found an Ashford hand and the referee blew his whistle and pointed to the spot, with 94 minutes gone, Dan Bone stepped up and calmly stroked the ball into the corner past Shay Honey to bring Fleet only one goal behind. There was only time for Ashford to touch the ball at the kick off before the final whistle was blown.
Final score Fleet Town 2 Ashford Town (Middlesex) 3.
Large numbers of fans of both sides stayed in the ground to celebrate the presentation of the loser and winner medals and the cup.
Fleet Town : 1 Roux Hardcastle, 2 Ellis McLean, 3 James Dinsdale, 4 Dan Bone, 5 Khalid Babikir, 6 Tom Wensley, 7 Rowan Sharratt, 8 Ryan Esprit, 9 Mack Vary, 10 Billy Oram, 11 Shemar Pettet.
Subs : 12 Alfie Neville, 14 Matty Pearce (on for Vary 56 mins), 15 Ben Maunders, 16 Elliot Amadieu (on for McLean 73 mins), 17 Luke Larner (on for Dinsdale 14 mins)
Although most teams have already long finished their seasons, Fleet Town still have another match to play next Tuesday 17th in the Final of the Aldershot Senior Cup against Hartley Wintney, at Aldershot Town’s ground.
Fleet Town fell behind to Reading City in the Semi-Final of the Southern Combination Challenge Cup when Tyler Cruz scored in the 9th minute. It was about half an hour before Fleet fashioned their first good chance, but that flew high over the bar, but a minute later Reading City keeper was called into action to palm away a fierce strike from Fleets number 2. Reading City had a couple of off target efforts before Fleet won a free kick in a dangerous position, but keeper York was in position to save the curling kick from Dan Bone.
The second half started with Jemel Johnson’s “cross” hitting the outside of the post. as the half went on, slowly Fleet were getting more of the ball and chances, but denied time and again being caught narrowly offside by an eagle eyed official. The reward came on 73 minutes when number 14 substitute side footed the ball home from an excellent cross from the right. Reading City had a loud Penalty shout turned down before Fleet found the net again, on 86 minutes, but the referee gave Reading City a free kick for a foul on their keeper instead. There was still time for Oram to be clear through but shoot over before the whistle went for full time and an extra 30 minutes entertainment for the fans at the game.
The first chance of extra time fell to Oram for Fleet, but somehow the keeper got down to push the ball away, Dan Davies blazed over for Reading City before Dan Bone collected a cross from Oram but volleyed the ball over. On 112 minutes the decisive moment of the match, with Reading City appealing for a foul, Fleet carried on and scored a second. Final Score Reading City 1 Fleet Town 2.
More details to be added later.
The Final v Ashford Town (Middlesex) is planned to be played at Calthorpe Park this Tuesday night, 10th May.