There’s just one more friendly game to go before the real thing and before that, Fleet picked up a win at Bostik League side Hendon with Darren McQueen maintaining his hot scoring streak in pre-season and Danny Mills getting off the mark.
Daryl McMahon once again rotated his side and gave Ollie Boulding a starting place at full-back while Andy Drury had recovered sufficiently from his ankle injury to take his berth in midfield.
Playing in their away strip, Fleet soon got to grips with a 3G surface the like of which they’ll have to play on three times this season and were into gear with their passing game inside the first 15 minutes.
But it was the home side who drew first blood just past that quarter-hour mark when Niko Muir picked up on Keagan Cole’s trickery to slot a shot past Jonathan Miles to open the scoring.
The visitors took a while to get back into the game but it wasn’t for the want of trying that they continued to trail, with Sean Shields twice creating excellent opportunities but Danny Kedwell was denied by a decent Zak Joseph save and then headed his second chance wide. Six minutes before half-time saw Shields continue to terrorise the Hendon back line, so much so that they combined to head against their own crossbar from one delivery.
The half-time break didn’t interrupt Fleet’s stride unduly and the visitors were back in the hunt, Drury ending a great move by seeing a shot bounce back off the crossbar seven minutes in. And three minutes later, the equaliser finally and deservedly arrived. It was Anthony Cook who made it with a swift dash down the right and a smart pass into Kedwell who did very well to send the ball over the goalkeeper and in.
Hendon then enjoyed a purple patch and Anthony Da Costa went close with an effort before Cole tried his luck from distance and wasn’t too far off. Fleet shuffled their pack and it was little surprise that McQueen’s introduction for the closing stages made all the difference. Within four minutes of coming on, he’d raced on to Kedwell’s touch, after good work by Jack Powell, to finish coolly past Joseph to put Fleet ahead.
And McQueen had a hand in Fleet’s third goal four minutes from the end. Sprinting upfield as the visitors counter-attacked, McQueen delivered from the left, Kedwell pulled the ball back to tee up substitute Danny Mills and the former Whitehawk striker slotted home for his first Fleet goal.
The action wasn’t quite complete as two minutes later Miles was left to admire a sweet shot by Hendon substitute Lewis Davis as it flew in from the left and just under the bar, leaving the Fleet goalkeeper with little hope of making a save.
EUFC: Miles; Boulding (Connors 52), McCoy, Mambo, Graham; Cook (McQueen 75), Drury (Coulson 75), Payne (Powell 52), Shields; Kedwell, McLean (Mills 83). Subs: Ashmore, Winfield, Weston, Miller-Neave, Magri
*With thanks to Phil Moss for covering EUFC Twitter duties tonight*