There are two halves games and there are games where the two halves mirror each other and this was one of those, Fleet scoring early in both to be brought within 10 minutes of the shot whistle every time. And maybe that’s how it went until the winner of Craig Tanner’s Last Breath returned home to delight traveling fans.
Dominic Poleon’s opening goal in the first half and Craig Tanner’s superb free-kick early in the second half seemed to have sent Fleet on their way, but each time the home side fought back to earn a point …until Tanner pops up. for his usual splint.
There was just one change for the fleet as Haydn Hollis entered the back line, Chris Solly moving upfield to slot into Josh Wright’s position, the former Billericay man dropping on the bench.
With the mercury topping 30, a slow start could have been forgiven, but it was anything but. Weymouth won a first-minute corner which Tom Blair ended up knocking into the hands of Mark Cousins, but with the very next attack Fleet were ahead. It happened in fairly innocuous circumstances, Rakish Bingham finding Poleon in the box and he hit a shot that normally shouldn’t have resulted in a goal, but goalkeeper Bert Smith couldn’t have had enough and he rode on the line and in .
Weymouth tried to make inroads and Blair drew a foul and warning from Joe Martin with a run down the right, but Fleet handled most of those runs without unduly disturbing Cousins. And Blair, the home side’s standout performer, embarked on a labyrinthine race in and around the fleet area that required a solid tackle from Joe Martin to deny it.
The pace slowed understandably before the first drink break in the 27th minute and Fleet was content to hold off Weymouth, Christian N’Guessan’s run into the box and Luke O’Neill’s effort just above- above the only real goal views other than Poleon’s opener.
Smith dealt rather uncomfortably with a free-kick from Sterling which was knocked wide from the penalty area, but Weymouth were back in the 33rd minute with a well-worked piece of football down the right. It was that Blair man again who created the opening, sending a cross bending behind the back line of the fleet for Tom Bearwish to arrive at the right time to convert.
A chance to regain the lead fell three minutes from the break when N’Guessan took the ball out into the box to find Poleon. His effort was blocked and Bingham called but ended up sending that one over the bar.
Weymouth had a golden chance before the whistle, Keelan O’Connell quickly broke down the middle and found Claudio Ofosu in space to the right of the fleet box but he swelled his lines and sent his shot hovering over the bar.
Wright was introduced for Martin at half-time, with the Fleet defender still sporting the plaster over his eye which was injured last week and it took just three minutes for Fleet to regain the lead. Cundle was fouled from 30 yards out, a somewhat unnecessary foul with his back to goal. Never mind Fleet cared, Tanner lined up the free kick and shot straight on target and passed Smith for 2-1.
The Cousins made a great save as Bearwish worked his way into shooting position in the 54th minute, fending off the former Eastleigh forward’s shot-putting shot.
And the fleet keeper was again called out when Cameron Murray’s snap on the hour mark headed in on goal before Cousins knocked him away from target with a solid pair of hands.
And it was Cousins again who drew applause in the 67th minute when Weymouth found a pass that split the fleet defense and as O’Connell met the cross in the box, the fleet keeper was quickly taken out to block at the feet of the Weymouth man.
Fleet was back on offense with a quarter of an hour to go, a long overhead clearance by Cousins freeing Tanner through the middle and he hit a weak effort past the post. Sterling then tried his luck from range with goalkeeper Smith and Weymouth unprepared for a shot that dipped and bounced just at the near post.
But with 10 minutes remaining, Weymouth got their second equaliser. It came after Cousins made an early save on a cross in the danger zone, but as Fleet moved forward to clear his lines the referee blew for a foul in the box and substitute Bradley Ash swung his kick just beyond the goalkeeper’s stretch.
Ash – who had previously scored for Chippenham against the Fleet – was looking for the winner and he battled towards the touchline to get a shot which Cousins again pushed high and wide. Ofosu sent another effort into the side netting as the tails of a well-organized Weymouth were up.
But it was Fleet who had the last chance in frantic added time, Poleon netting a cross at the far post and rolling a pressure shot just wide. And then as the clock ticked towards 100 minutes Tanner found space as Fleet mounted one last attack he assessed his options which were pretty much “shooting” and that’s exactly what he did to score points!
CFEU: Cousins, O’Neill, Martin (Wright 46), Hollis, Solly, N’Guessan, Sterling-James, Cundle (McQueen 74), Tanner, Bingham (Coulthirst 85), Poleon. Subs: Edser, Haigh
WFC: White, Nippard, Kyprianou (Boutin 73), McBurnie (Ward 90), Matsuzaka, Carlyle, O’Connell, Bearwish, Blair (Ash 73), Ofosu, Murray. Subs: Bruton, Seddon
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