What a difference a couple of months makes! On Fleet’s last visit to Clarence Park in April they turned in a sorry performance and came off second best. This afternoon, while by no means brushing St Albans aside, Daryl McMahon’s team notched their third straight win and third successive clean sheet.
Fleet staff and players will know only too well that successful league campaigns don’t happen in August, but three wins out of three at the start of a league season is the club’s best since taking five straight wins in 1988/89.
McMahon once again named an unchanged side against a St Albans squad that has made some decent signings in the summer, though not got off to the best of starts. Nonetheless, it was the Saints who made the early running, with Simon Thomas just clipping the top of the bar and then firing wide with his next chance.
Fleet’s two-goal midfield man Jordan Parkes had an opportunity to add to that tally as early as the 12th minute with a close-range header not too far over before the visiting defence was called into action once more to thwart Thomas and then Lewis Hilliard climbed too high when in a good position to send another chance over Brandon Hall.
Parkes had another sight of goal with a free-kick that came to nothing and Matt Godden forced former Fleet keeper Joe Welch into a great save, but it would have been offside anyway. There was one more chance for the home side when Luke Allen’s effort was nudged away by Hall but a mediocre first half as far as the Fleet were concerned ended goalless.
The second was better as Fleet scored early and shut down the home side’s supply line from then on. The opening goal took just five minutes to arrive, Parkes fouled by James Comley inside the box. Kedwell’s trademark wallop down the middle from the penalty spot gave Welch little chance and the visitors were ahead.
Godden struck one into the side netting moments later before the home side fired off a couple of half chances that failed to trouble the Fleet defence. Both sides then made double substitutions but it didn’t tip the balance in St Albans’ favour as Fleet extended their lead with 15 minutes remaining. A goalmouth scramble that the home side really should have dealt with ended up with Comley hacking the ball as far as Dagenham & Redbridge loanee Ian Gayle and he hit the ball against Kenny Clark, which deflected over the line.
There was little danger of Fleet losing their lead after that and a late goal conceded by Hemel Hempstead in their game against Tuesday’s opponents Weston-super-Mare meant McMahon’s side sit proudly – if prematurely – atop the league table tonight.
EUFC: Hall, Fish, Howe, Rance, Clark, Bonner, Godden (Haynes 63), Parkes, Kedwell (Cunnington 74), Kissock (S Lewis 74), Willmott. Subs not used: Miles, Acheampong
SACFC: Welch, Comley (Kyriacou 85), Gayle, Martin, Chappell, Thomas, Allen, Corcoran, Hilliard (Green 67), Theophanous (Medlock 67), S Thomas