Fleet 4-0 Braintree Town – Ebbsfleet United Football Club

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The Fleet machine continued as two goals in each half paid off a strong Braintree side and secured eight out of eight wins to keep Dennis Kutrieb’s side top of the table.

It was two goals apiece for Dominic Poleon and Greg Cundle in the pouring rain in a game in stark contrast to last season’s win over Braintree, the two decisive goals before half-time on that occasion.

Having been spared the rigors of a game day on Saturday, Dennis Kutrieb kept his substitutions to just two as Joe Martin and Josh Wright replaced Haydn Hollis and Kieran Monlouis.

Braintree, a very different prospect from last time they locked horns with the fleet, was quick to enter the fleet, Alfie Matthews’ first shot was blocked as the visitors enjoyed a misguided throw-in.

The visitors continued to press with Fleet’s best chance early on as Craig Tanner hoisted a superb ball forward for Poleon to run on during the break, but his cross through the middle only found a defender of Braintree.

That partnership clicked again on 13 minutes and almost too easily, Tanner’s pass crept to Poleon from 12 yards out and everyone knew where the league’s top scorer was going to put it as he fired it low out of litter from Jack Sims.

This put Braintree back on his feet and Fleet was able to control things a bit more without the game really opening up. Sims were back in action in the 23rd minute, until Luke O’Neill fired, but Braintree harassed the home side as best they could, stifling forward movement a bit.

O’Neill had another opportunity as the half-hour approached, his clever lob of the Omari Sterling setup floating towards but then away from Sims’ far post.

Fleet added a second in the 34th minute when Tanner’s ease of movement opened up some space and he found Josh Wright who quickly switched play for Cundle to attack in the box and fire home as he was moving inside.

Braintree struggled to respond and only a deflected shot from Lamar Reynolds behind on the right at half-time gave Fleet cause for concern – other than the torrent of rain that continued to fall throughout the game.

The Essex men resumed in a determined mood, however, with fleet boss Kutrieb not too happy on the sidelines as the blueshirts buzzed around the box for the first 10 minutes after the break.

O’Neill sent a low shot through a crowd from a 58th-minute corner which Baris Altintop had to clear off the line before Joe Muscatt sent a wild effort into the Swanscombe End after a neat approach play from Braintree.

Next up was Cundle with a smart forward ball that Poleon could run on. He almost flew between a defender and Sims, although Wright managed to recycle the opportunity for Bingham who hit him wide. Moments later, Tanner sniffed the edge of the box, but surrounded by blue shirts, he couldn’t create the opening to get shot.

Although fairly comfortable at 2-0, Aaron Blair in particular continued to pose a threat on the ball and Fleet’s usual third goal was a welcome one when he came on in the 70th minute. It was Cundle with his second of the game, picking up O’Neill’s cross pass and sneaking around Matt Rush to bury a shot.

The jubilation had barely subsided when Fleet no doubt ruined a few betting slips by making four. This time it was Josh Wright with the ball after Tanner cleared with the outside of his boot and Poleon sped on goal, smashing his ninth of the short season so far.

Fleet might have finished on the spectacular when substitute Ben Chapman sent a shot into the top corner, Sims stretching wide to push him against the woodwork. It was an exhibition display then as the red shirts floated around the box but had to settle for the four goals… and their fans certainly were!

CFEU: Cousins, O’Neill, Martin, Solly, Wright, N’Guessan (Monlouis 79), Cundle (Chapman 76), Sterling (McQueen 70), Tanner, Bingham, Poleon. Replacements: Jombati, Edser
BTFC: Sims, Altintop, Ikebuasi, Muscatt, White, Clements, Blair, Payne (Anderson 61), Reynolds (Fowkes 61), Matthews, Rush (Clemons 76). Replacements: Régis, Marigliani
Presence: 945

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