Cinderford Town 1 Fleet Town 2
For the second time in four weeks, Fleet travelled to the wilds of darkest Gloucestershire and for the second time came back with all three points, although this time they were pushed all the way by their hosts, who were denied many times by the superb saves of Brendan Norris.
The game started with Cinderford playing down their slope and they immediately looked threatening, bringing the Fleet keeper into the action, Brendan Norris jumping high to catch a couple of dangerous crosses. When Fleet got the chance to attack, the ball was played out to Layton Avenell on the right, who played the ball onto Harryson Wickens, as his cross was played into the box, the target player was felled and the referee blew for a Penalty to Fleet. Meshach Williams placed the ball, calmly stood back and waited, a stuttering run up to tempt the keeper, Alex Harris, to move early, as the keeper made his move Meshach struck the ball into the opposite corner and Fleet were ahead on eight minutes. The hosts were soon creating more dangerous chances as they looked to get back on terms, from a free kick twenty yards out, Lewis Binns fired the ball goalward and brought out the best in Brendan Norris to palm the ball round the far post for a corner to Cinderford, which got easily dealt with by Fleet, who soon got the ball upfield, from the centre circle Meshach Williams played the ball out to the right to find one of the debut boys, Rylan Myers, he got the ball onto Layton Avenell, his cross though was cleared by the Cinderford defence. Following more Cinderford pressure, as another cross came in with a player from both sides closing in and under minimal contact, the Cinderford player is left laying on the ground and the hosts have a Penalty kick of their own, taken by Dan Macdonald, the ball strikes the body of the diving Brendan Norris and runs back to Macdonald to tap home for the equaliser and bring Cinderford level after twenty minutes. Fleet did not let this setback change their style of attacking play, Billy Oram won the ball in midfield, played the ball out to the right to Layton Avenell to run forward passed the ball on to Meshach Williams, who kept the ball, looking to make space for a cross, but when it was played in, Fleet could only manage a weak shot into the keepers hands. The hosts were getting more of the ball and more chances but Brendan Norris was standing firm and catching crosses and shots. When the chances came, Fleet were breaking quickly, sometimes too quickly for the officials, awarding the hosts free kicks for offside decisions giving Cinderford time to put more pressure on the Fleet defence, but when they knocked the ball about, playing proper football Fleet always looked dangerous, at attack down the left and Joe Wilson played the ball into Meshach Williams, alone in the middle of the box, he hesitated, expecting to be flagged off again, only six yards out, the goal at his mercy he managed to shoot wide and not take advantage of this glorious opening. Moments later another attack down the left, Callum Abraham-Barlow overlaps and takes the ball towards the by-line, he cuts infield and into the box before firing home from a narrow angle and put Fleet back in front on 37 minutes. Cinderford immediately increased the pressure on Fleet, winning a corner, the ball lifted towards the D and it needed a goalline clearance from Callum Abraham-Barlow to preserve Fleet’s advantage. Fleet built another attack on the right through Layton Avenell, he played the ball to Harryson Wickens, Layton carried on forward and got the ball back from Wickens, Layton’s shot struck a defender to deflect just past the post for a corner. The last chances of the first half fell to the hosts, forcing Brendan Norris into a double save, getting himself in the way of two shots, before the loose ball was blasted well over the goal.
As open as the first half was, the second half was tight and dominated by the hosts, playing their favourite way up the slope, they pegged Fleet back for long periods and created the best chances of the half. From one corner, Fleet keeper Brendan Norris came out to reach the ball and touch it away, falling straight to a Cinderford player the ball was lifted over the Fleet defence, but just in time Brendan recovered his ground to clear the ball off the line. As the half went on and Fleet under pressure, Rylan Myers was getting more of the ball than most, to stop attacks, win defensive tackles and even lead the charge out down the right, to try to set up a Fleet attack or just give his team mates a few seconds breather. Into the final minutes and Cinderford threw more players forward in a desperate search for the equaliser, again it was Brendan Norris in the right place to pull off another double save, blocking one shot and being alert to stop another one a second later. Into the fifth minute of added time and Cinderford are given a free kick, knowing this to be their last chance, their keeper Alex Harris makes his way up into the box, but the kick comes to nothing and in his eagerness to get back to his goal, Alex Harris contacts a Fleet player and appears to stamp on him, all the players around are up in arms, a lot of pushing and shoving, but Alex Harris is already making his way off by the time the referee brings out his red card, passing his Jersey (about three sizes too large for him), to Sam Turl, who had not even reached the goal when the final whistle blew.
Next up for Fleet Town is the rearranged home game v Winchester City on Tuesday night (20th) and another home game on Saturday 25th v Barnstaple Town.
Fleet Town : 1 Brendan Norris, 2 Rylan Myers, 3 Callum Abraham-Barlow, 4 Ronan Silva, 5 Lewis Harvey, 6 Jordan Stepney, 7 Layton Avenell, 8 Billy Oram, 9 Meshach Williams, 10 Harryson Wickens, 11 Joe Wilson.
Subs : Connor Channon (on for Avenell 60 mins), Liam Callaghan (on for Wickens 70 mins), Amarni Bonsu (on for Oram 85 mins)
not used Daniel Framp, Abdul Rajab