Fleet Town 4 Amesbury Town 1

This was the first ever meeting between the two Clubs and on an evening nowhere near so cold as the forecast promised it was an enjoyable game with, on the night, the right result. Amesbury are in a considerable state of transition under new management and at times it looked as though the players, especially at the back, were still getting to know each other added to which the home side took their chances.

Amesbury had the slope in their favour in the opening half and rather wasted an early free kick from a dangerous position, home keeper Aiden Upward claiming the ball completely unchallenged. The home side soon began to dominate possession with a cross from Billy Oram being well held by Jordan Tewkesbury in the visiting goal and a Paul Coventry header scrambled off the line – that was a chance but the header lacked power. Fleet’s Aaron Redford showed a willingness and ability all evening to try his luck from distance and Tewksbury was at full stretch to turn one effort round the post. An Amesbury attack saw the home goalkeeper and defence operating on different wavelengths but Upward recovered in time to avert any danger and after Redford was too high from a right wing cross the home side took the lead midway through the half. Full back JAMES SMITH worked his way along the by line on the right and drove the ball low and hard at the near post where Tewkesbury, slightly out of position, could only parry the ball inside the post. It could possibly have been classed as an own goal but Fleet have credited Smith so happily Smith’s goal it is. Amesbury’s Jack Francis talked his way into the sin bin and Tewkesbury denied Redford again at full stretch before another effort from the same player led to Fleet’s second goal ten minutes before the break. The shot was driven through a crowded area, Tewkesbury could only parry same and PAUL COVENTRY slotted the loose ball into the net. Amesbury regained their full complement of players and immediately came close to halving the deficit. A free kick on the left, the only bad challenge of the game, was turned in to the net in a goalmouth scramble but the offside flag came to the home side’s rescue, though only for a matter of minutes. The clock was hovering round the forty five minute mark when EWAN HAYLOR, probably the youngest (and smallest) player on the pitch and very skilful with the ball at his feet, cleverly turned a defender and scored from a very narrow angle. The Amesbury celebrations suggested there was no lack of team spirit in the ranks and they went in for their tea with Fleet just one goal to the good.

The home side were very rapidly out of their blocks on the re-start with Tewkesbury superbly saving a close-range effort from Coventry and beating away another Redford thunderbolt. Amesbury introduced Assistant Manager Christer Warren, who has played on larger stages, to the fray but before he could have any effect or perhaps even touch the ball Fleet increased their lead. A free kick from the right touchline saw the defenders leave the ball to each other and EDDIE SMITH’s finish at the far post was clinical. Fleet had a further “goal” disallowed for offside and a two on one break by Amesbury was similarly thwarted by the closest of offside decisions. Perhaps buoyed by that the visitors pressed forward with Haylor denied by the keeper’s legs and a header from Jamie Ritchie only an inch or so too high with Upward struggling to regain his line following a corner. But any hopes of a comeback were finally quelled by a fourth goal for Fleet as the visiting defence again got in a tangle and Eddie Smith’s square pass left PAUL COVENTRY with the simplest of finishes. From that point it was game over and though there was no slacking in effort from either side there was little further action in either goalmouth as the game rather drifted to its close.

As previously stated the home side deserved their win but Amesbury were far from outclassed and can only improve game by game if the attitude shown last night is maintained. My first visit to Fleet for four years, the last Wessex League game I saw there was in 2002, and a warm welcome and enjoyable evening. The only downside, six cautions and two sin bins in a game played in perfectly acceptable spirit. One begins to despair.

Thank you to former Secretary of the Sydenhams Wessex League John Gorman for his excellent match report from his visit last night

Fleet: 1. Aiden Upward, 2. James Smith, 3. Tom Wensley, 4. Durrell Brown, 5. Stuart Derry (c), 6. Cavan Atkinson, 7. Aaron Redford, 8. Jack Howard, 9. Paul Coventry, 10. Eddie Smith, 11. Billy Oram

Subs: 12. Jake Hammond (11), 14. Jon May, 15. Brad Passfield, 16. Tom Williams (5), 17. Jack Selby (10)

Goals: OG (22 mins), Paul Coventry (30 mins), Eddie Smith (55 mins), Paul Coventry (65 mins)

Man of Match: James Smith

Attendance: 70

Fleet’s next game of the season is Saturday 23rd November we are away to Hamble in the Sydenhams Wessex League. Kick Off is 3.00pm