Fleet Town 2 Barnstaple Town 1
Dave Kelly’s first game in charge saw a strong fighting performance from Fleet Town to progress to the next round of the Buildbase FA Trophy and send Barnstaple back to North Devon still looking for their first win of the season. Fleet’s original plans for the afternoon being thrown into disarray when they were forced into changing their starting line up after Jordan Stepney was injured in the warm-up and had to withdraw from the game, leaving Fleet Town to promote Amarni Bonsu from the bench to start in an unfamiliar defensive role, in which he looked a natural throughout. In a close match the result could have gone the other way if the visitors had made been able to make more of their early chances. Only seven minutes in and ball through split the Fleet defence, collected by Jack Langford he took the ball forward and fired in a low ball across the six yard box, luckily the Fleet keeper Brendan Norris failed to get a touch which could have deflected the ball into the path of the incoming Barnstaple attackers and the ball ran all the way across untouched, for a throw in to Fleet to clear. It was nearly twenty minutes before Fleet had their first great chance of the afternoon, another fantastic run from Danilo Cadete, his cross caused panic in the visitors defence and in the scramble that followed they failed to clear the ball and it was collected by Abdul Rajab, his shot forcing the visitors keeper Robert Holmes into a quick side step to be in position to catch the ball before it passed him. The game ebbed and flowed from one end to the other, it was the ball winning in midfield by Connor Channon and Lamar Koroma that was just giving Fleet the edge until a quick break from the visitors and a panic challenge when Fleet had three defenders around one attacker gave Barnstaple a free kick inside the D, the visitors captain Jack Jenkins waited for Fleet to make all their preperations and line up the wall, Jenkins still fired the ball around the wall into the net to give the visitors the lead after 37 minutes. Fleet took the game more to the visitors looking for a way back before the break, Joe Wilson and Danilo Cadete playing the ball in but easily dealt with until the 44th minute when a cross from Danilo Cadete contacted the arm of Tallan Mitchell inside the box and Fleet were awarded a Penalty. As protests continued, Abdul Rajab had paced the ball on the spot and calmly waited for the box to clear, as he started his run-up, the keeper Robert Holmes choose to dive to his right and Abdul calmly stroked the ball into the opposite corner to bring Fleet level. Half time soon followed with the game level and all to play for.
Fleet started the second half the stronger and was only a couple of minutes old when Danilo Cadete played a superb ball out to Abdul Rajab on the right, Abdul played the ball into Meshach Williams, but he shot just over the bar. A few minutes later it was Abdul Rajab again playing in the dangerous cross, this time it was ahead of the incoming Meshach Williams, he stretched for the ball but only just got a toe to the ball which deflected the ball just outside the post. Both sides continued to create chances, helped by some nervous defending, Brendan Norris was suddenly the busier of the keepers, as the visitors were getting on top, but the more he had to do the better he did it, being forced into two fine saves after holes appeared in front of him. Then against the run of play, with the prospecct of a replay in Devon on Tuesday looming, Fleet break and the ball is with sub Riccardo Andrady, out on the right, he crosses the ball, Meshach Williams has the chance, shoots, Robert Holmes stops the effort but does not hold the ball as it runs behind him Meshach is quickest to react and reach the ball to bundle it home, sparking wild scenes from the noisy `massiv` behind the goal and Fleet took the lead with only eight minutes to spare. In the final minutes the visitors threw everyone forward in a desperate search for an equaliser, only to find Brendan Norris there every time. Late on Fleet were able to make their final substitution bringing on Billy Oram, after his injury lay off, for Danilo Cadete who left the field to his own personal ovation from the crowd. After what seemed an eternity of added time, a 95th minute Barnstaple corner was deslt with and the final whistle blew, sparking more wild celebrations for the home fans.
After the match Paul of Easi-leaflets made their Man of the Match award to Amarni Bonsu and then out came the cake for Manager Dave Kelly’s birthday.
Fleet Town : 1 Brendan Norris, 2 Daniel Framp, 3 Matthew Deadfield, 4 Connor Channon, 5 Stuart Derry, 7 Danilo Cadete, 8 Lamar Koroma, 9 Meshach Williams, 10 Joe Wilson, 11 Abdul Rajab, 14 Amarni Bonsu
subs 15 Billy Oram (on for Danilo Cadete 88 mins), 16 Enow Ojong (on for Rajab 68 mins), 11 Riccardo Andrady (on for Framp 61 mins)
not used 12 Ronan Silva, 6 Jordan Stepney (injured in warm up)
Next up for Fleet is a game on Tuesday night at home to Badshot Lea in the first round of the Aldershot Senior Cup.