Bridport 1 Fleet Town 2

Fleet made the long journey to Bridport for their Extra-Preliminary FA Cup tie. The coach turned up late and a number of players were unavailable, added to that Bridport had conceded 14 goals in two league matches. Anyone who thought this would be easy didn’t realise how much Bridport would battle and play better than their league form showed.

The first half started with Fleet on the front foot trying to move the ball quickly and they were causing the Bridport back four some problems without making clear cut chances. James Beauchamp and Mal Thomas were combining well up front but couldn’t quite get the final ball right. Inevitably on Bridport’s first attack Aiden Upward made a great save but the ball rebounded to the Bridport forward who side footed it into the net for the first goal. The rest of the half continued with Fleet attacking, flashing balls across the box or shooting wide while Bridport had a header from a corner go over the bar. Half-time 1-0

Then second half was a more even affair, with Fleet being caught offside on a number of occasions. Dan Bone came on at half-time and became the focus of the Fleet attack as they shuffled things around looking for an equaliser. Chances were rare for both teams with Bridport looking to hold onto what they had. With about 10 minutes to go Mal Thomas had a chance from a tight angle which the keeper saved well. Fleet fans were starting to feel that it wasn’t going to be their year in the FA Cup as the clock clicked to 90 minutes. A through ball found James Beauchamp running through on goal, as he wriggled to lose the defender he went down and the referee awarded the spot kick. Mal Thomas took the ball to take the penalty amid much friendly barracking from the Bridport fans behind the goal. This reporter found it hard to watch but Mal composed himself stepped up and beat the keeper and then celebrated behind the goal. Happy at this point to take the replay on Tuesday night, the Fleet players were not. Into the 93 minute Fleet got the ball down the right wing the cross into the area fell to Dan Bone who controlled it and laid it off to Mal Thomas. Mal’s shot took a slight deflection and beat the goalkeeper on the near post leading to mass celebrations amongst the Fleet fans and players. Time to breath and then drive home.

Bridport is a lovely club, with a great committee and fans. They looked after everyone connected to Fleet really well and if you find yourself in the Bridport area on a Saturday I strongly advise heading for a game.

Fleet: 1. Aiden Upward, 2. Dan Framp, 3. Tom Wensley, 4. Rowan Sharratt, 5. Stuart Derry, 6. Brad Passfield, 7. Fareed Hakem-Habeeb, 8. Khalid Babikir, 9. James Beauchamp, 10. Mal Thomas, 11. Ellis McLean

Subs: 12. Yassa Arafat (8), 14. Dan Bone (11), 15. Sean Hayes (7)

Goals: Mal Thomas (pen) (90mins), Mal Thomas (93 mins)

Man of Match:  Mal Thomas

Attendance: 175