Fleet 2-2 Havant & Waterlooville

Another draw at Stonebridge Road opened up the race for the league title further still as Fleet got themselves back in the game after conceding an early goal only to let a 2-1 lead slip.

Daryl McMahon rang the changes with his team lineup, bringing in Joe Howe for his first start since mid-December, while Danny Kedwell and John Paul Kissock also came in. Out were Bryan van den Bogaert (unwell), Jordan Parkes and Anthony Cook, the latter dropping to the bench. Joining Cook was Michael West, back from his loan spell at Whitehawk.

The visitors made a bright start after their late comeback win against Maidstone United on Saturday and Ben Swallow down the right flank in particular was making plenty of headway.  Havant forced three corners in quick succession and with Shamir Mullings’ physical presence up front, the Fleet defence looked unsettled. After that flurry of set pieces, the Hawks opened the scoring from open play on 12 minutes. Full back Harry Medway launched a cross from the left touchline that carried a little with the wind to float towards the far post and into the top corner.

Rocked by that setback, Fleet took a while to settle and Havant took full advantage of the home side’s apprehension. But the lead lasted only 12 minutes. Matt Godden had given the Fleet some encouragement with a break through the defence that came to nothing but on 24 minutes, he was at it again. A decent passing move saw a clever dummy unlock the Havant back line, Godden spotted a gap and laid a precise pass through it that Kissock latched on to and swept beyond Ryan Young for the equaliser.

That goal was pleasing on the eye and Fleet’s performance picked up with it. Five minutes later Dean Rance had a great chance to make it 2-1 when Lewis lobbed a ball into his path and beyond the visitors’ defence but Ryan Young got down well to palm away the shot. Lewis then had an effort of his own fly over before a magnificent lay-off by Kedwell set Godden free and his ball across to Howe saw the defender hit a shot that curled away from the post.

Havant weren’t finished though and on the stroke of half-time, Mullings got the wrong side of Tom Bonner who hit a shot over while Scott Donnelly fired the ball into the same place when he tackled Brandon Hall on the edge of the box.

The second half started tamely in terms of chances, though a couple of hefty challenges began to appear and nine minutes after the restart, Fleet looked to have seized their opportunity. A cross from the left glided towards the back post and Godden hung suspended to direct a header low, back across the goalkeeper, to put his side 2-1 up.

The game became a little stretched as Havant went in search of an equaliser and Fleet almost exploited that. Kedwell glanced a header from a free-kick just past the post from close range before supplying a through ball for Aaron McLean who looked like he was going to slot it home, but it skipped away from him as it bounced.

An excellent move on 65 minutes saw Rance surge upfield with Kedwell, McLean and Godden for company. Godden took the pass and rifled a shot into the top corner from the edge of the box but the flag was up for offside.

But 15 minutes from time, Havant struck for the second time. After some hesitancy in the Fleet defence, Matt Fish was dispossessed and a cross from the left was met by substitute James Hayter eight yards out and he tucked it past Hall.

Neither side could find the spark to win the game, though Nic Ciardini’s shot was well held by Hall, who then almost lost the ball from the throw out while at the other end neither Lewis’s shot just wide or the introduction of Charlie Sheringham could win it for the Fleet. James Haran, who’d earned a silly yellow card in the first half for kicking the ball away, got his marching orders courtesy of a second yellow in time added on, but it made little difference to the end result.

EUFC: Hall, Fish, Howe, Lewis, Acheampong, Bonner, Rance, Godden, Kedwell, McLean (Sheringham 82), Kissock (West 90). Subs not used: Miles, Clark, Cook
HWFC: Young, Strugnell (Hayter 67), Medway, Stock, Haran, Hill, Swallow, Donnelly, Mullings, Ciardini, Mitchell (Thompson 84). Subs not used: Cummings, Paterson, Blanchett
Attendance: 854


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