Scorers : Mlambo 15

Date : Saturday 20th December 2014 - 3:00pm kick off - Evo-stik League Southern, South & West Division 1

Fleet Town : Ryan Pryce, Brett Stanley, Aaron Blaxall, Ben White, Dan Rousell, Jams Scott, Craig Martin, Craig Davis, Simba Mlambo [c], Jack French, Rob Carr (Jack White 84).  Subs not used: Jordan Westbrook, Lee Bowen, Shaun Lancaster

Yellow Card : Craig Martin 38,

Sholing: Lee Webber, Kev Brewster, Taurean Manders, TJ Cuthbertson, Mike Byrne (Nick Watts 19), Jack Smith, Barry Mason [c] (Jess Walklin 81), Alex Sawyer, Sam Wilson (Dan Mason 77), Byron Mason, Tobi Adekunle.

Yellow Card :  TJ Cuthbertson 7, Jack Smith 41, Barry Mason 67, Nick Watts 77, Kev Brewster 82, Micky Travers 89, Widow Twankey 90, Airlynx Coach Driver 91

Attendance : 130 (really?!)

Man of the Match :  Alex Sawyer

Referee :  Aaron Moody.  Assistants: Ethan Davids & Mark Shapland

Imagine the typical Sholing game this season and it would have the following: Injuries, Poor Referee, Missed chances and lack of goals.  And so it played out again at Fleet Town.

Team News: Rory Anderson failed a fitness test so Lee Webber took his place in goal.  TJ returned from injury to replace the injured Dan Miller.  Tobi Adekunle was given a start on the wing instead of Nick Watts.

Backed by around 25 Sholing fans, the game kicked off in bright sunshine at Fleet's tree-lined ground.  The pitch has a slope from right to left (as looking from the main stand) with further contours towards the left hand corner flags.  The pitch had been churned up in places by Fleet's midweek game, especially in the centre and left hand goalmouth.

Sholing started brightly with Byron Mason charging through from his own half, but his shot was comfortable for the keeper to smother.  The first yellow card came out on 7 minutes when TJ left a Fleet player in a heap on the centre circle. No complaints about that caution.  The home side were looking to break quickly down the flanks and that was the route for their goal on 15 minutes as a cross from the right found Simba Mlambo unmarked in the penalty area to place his header down into the corner past the exposed Lee Webber.  A few minutes later and Mike Byrne pulled a hamstring and went straight to the changing rooms.  Wattsie came on, with Jack Smith going to centre half. Tobi Adekunle was finding space on the left wing and had two shots saved down at the foot of the near post.

A great chance for the Boatmen on 21 minutes when Alex Sawyer burst through the middle, was one on one with the keeper, tried to slot it past him, but the keeper got enough on it to divert the ball wide and it was cleared.  An even better chance was to follow 5 minutes later when Sam Wilson whipped in a great curling cross to the back post where from 6 yards, Nick Watts headed it up against the bar and over.  Fleet had a few breaks that didn't trouble the make-shift defence too much before just before half time, a pass into Sam Wilson's feet inside the area, with his back to goal, saw him turn the defender and be brought down, but the ref gave nothing.  HT 1-0

The Boatmen were kicking down the slope in the second half, but the home side missed a great chance to double their lead when a player blazed over at the far post with the whole goal to aim at.  That was the last bit of goalmouth action for some while as the game got bogged down in midfield, not helped by the play being stopped all the time by the referee who dealt out yellow cards to half the Sholing team for minor stuff & some baffling decisions. The clearly frustrated Boatmen were creating little as the home side dug in and worked very hard to close us down.  Lee Webber didn't have a shot to save for the rest of the game, but sadly, neither did the Fleet keeper.  However, on 90 minutes, Taurean Manders made a rare trip forward, got to the byline and put over a brilliant cross to the far stick where there were two unmarked Sholing players. Wattsie got to the cross ahead of Byron, but from inside the 6 yard box, he glanced his header down and somehow, wide of the post.  It summed up the game, really.  FT 1-0

View from the Stand :  First of all, the referee didn't have an effect on the result.  Fleet deserved a win for working their nuts off in the second half, they had their one clear chance and scored from it.  We had 3 clear chances and didn't.  That's a simple summary of the game and probably all that needs to be written. However, its again frustrating from a fans point of view to have a keenly fought game, detracted from by a poor refereeing performance.  The injury curse struck again with Mike Byrne out for a week or two.  With Dan Miller out & Jack Smith suspended for three games, we are lacking defensive options.  Nearly every 1st team player this season has been out injured at least once.  Dave Diaper said after the game that he can't recall such a high number of injuries in the 13 years he's been in charge.  As ever in football, one player's misfortune can be another's opportunity, so if we are to dip into the Reserves for players, we are fortunate to have a strong back up squad thanks to the club's policy of developing local youth.

Photos by Ray Routledge (click an image to enlarge)