Fleet were unlucky not to earn a win against a strong Colchester United side after taking the lead in the second half and withstanding an attacking display from the visitors in the first.
A brace from Rakish Bingham either side of half-time put the home side in control, but a cheeky lobbed goal saved Colchester’s blushes as they even finished the honours.
Former Colchester goalkeeper Mark Cousins started for the Fleet, which also featured Darren McQueen once on the U books – and on the other side John Kinde returned to the club where he makes his first senior breakthrough.
Colchester asked the first questions when Kinde beat Christian N’Guessan on the right of the fleet and crossed, but Alan Judge’s effort was blown off Mark Cousins and Freddie Sears couldn’t keep the framed ball.
And Cousins had to jump to keep a well-kicked free-kick as he headed on target and hit the crossbar thanks to the Fleet keeper’s excellent instinctive save. Cousins received more applause as he turned that save into a brace, also reacting to the follow-up shot with remarkable speed.
The League Two side were certainly strong on and off the ball and their pressure paid off in the 12th minute when Sears and Judge ran through the middle after a header from the fleet went wrong and the ball was returned to Noah Chilvers’ path to hijack Past Cousins.
There was confusion in the fleet defense in the 15th minute which almost extended Colchester’s lead, but that effort snuck just over and dropped behind Cousins’ goal.
Fleet’s first good chance came in the 19th minute when Greg Cundle exchanged passes down the left with Bingham and received the pass back into the box, but was forced out by the covering defender. A similar move between Dominic Poleon and Joe Martin ended the same way.
Cousins hit a deep cross from Junior Tchamadeu towards Akinde before a well-deserved break on a very hot afternoon slowed things down a bit. Fleet got back into action quickly and Josh Wright fired a Poleon touch over the bar from 20 yards out before Craig Tanner and Wright combined well on the break at 35 minutes but Bingham’s resulting shot was blocked .
Colchester’s chances were less as half time drew to a close but Chilvers fired low with a aimed attack before Poleon released Cundle at the other end, but his shot deflected and lost power . Fleet was not to be denied for long when a brilliant routine corner on the training ground jumped past two Fleet players, allowing Bingham to run in and launch a curling low shot into the side of the net for the equalizer .
The second half lasted six minutes when Freddie Sears could have done better thanks to Cousins’ misplaced clearance, but he sent the ball wide of the target.
But after that Fleet really upped the ante to keep Colchester on the back foot. There was a brilliant run and layoff from Cundle, combined with Poleon, and the No.15 fleet recovered the pass to fire a superb shot which was fended off very well by Sam Hornby.
Fleet took the lead just after the hour mark, great work in midfield by Christian N’Guessan who took possession of the ball and he came forward to force his way deftly past a defender to slip in a pass towards Bingham. The goalscorer doubled his score with a precise and weak effort beyond Hornby.
The Redshirts continued to press and Luke O’Neill fired a low shot across goal, hitting a Colchester heel that deflected it behind and wide for a corner.
But the U equalized in the 67th minute when a long ball from goalkeeper Hornby was sent in by Kinde. he cleared Chris Solly and landed for Sears who sent a sublime lob over the stranded cousins.
Home fans vehemently demanded a penalty when Ben Chapman cut into the box and took to the ground in a challenge with Hornby. At the other end, Kinde stormed a cross from Luke Hannant but couldn’t quite connect in the penalty area.
Fleet asked the final questions with great football down the left. Omari Sterling-James started, finding Trialist A on the touchline and he clipped the ball for Bingham whose effort was stifled by Hornby to deny him a hat-trick and Fleet a win.
And there it all ended, a very good draw for Fleet against a Colchester side preparing for their first EFL League Two game next weekend.
CFEU: Cousins, O’Neill, Solly, Martin (Finney 75), N’Guessan, Wright (Monlouis 62), Cundle (Sterling-James 75), McQueen (Chapman 65), Tanner (Trialist A 46), Poleon, Bingham (Romain 87).
CUFC: Hornby, Tchamadeu, Chambers, Eastman, Clampin, Miranda, Judge, Hannant, Chilvers, Sears, Akinde