FLEET TOWN 2 EGHAM TOWN 1
By Tempest Ward
Top spot chance missed again
EVO-STIK SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL
TUESDAY 22 MARCH 2016
FLEET TOWN 2 (0) EGHAM TOWN 1 (1)
Chris Hall (56) Ben Hall (80) Brendan Matthew (14, pen)
For 80 minutes this evening Egham Town FC were top of their division. Then some rank bad defending let Ben Hall head in the winner and Egham stayed in third. So it was that for the third game on the trot Gary Meakin’s men had the chance to grab this title race by the throat and strangle the life out of the opposition, and for the third time they blew it. Promotion hopefuls should not be losing three games on the bounce against mid-table opposition. The wheels have not yet come off, but there is some concern about how tightly the nuts are screwed on.
The pattern of Egham starting well continued, and this time with a goal to show for it. The starting XI had James Reading taking over from usual keeper and former Fleet Town man Jamie Norris, while midweek maestro Aaron Morgan was, for the first time, taking the field with the dynamic Chris Henry. That pairing promised much, and from the start the latter played the former in with a perfect pass. The shot was accurate, home keeper Ryan Price saved it and as he did so a defender came in to cover, catching Morgan on the left ankle. That put an end to that partnership. Morgan went off, replaced by leading scorer Matthew. After 13 minutes midfielder Jake Cass broke through a couple of tackles and was floored in the area by Dan Russell. Fleet protested at the penalty award. Matthew converted, for his 23rd goal of the season. Later on he should have made it two dozen. Holding on to that advantage would have seen the Sarnies on 72 points, two more than Kings Langley, while leapfrogging over Royston Town, level before kick with Egham on 69 points from 34 games. The rest of the half was competitive without the keepers being particularly busy, then White’s low cross was hit against the outside of Reading’s right hand post by Rob Carr two minutes before the break.
Playing up the Calthorpe Park slope in the second half did not seem to suit the Sarnies, who were pegged back after 56 minutes after some neat passing gave Chris Hall time to drive a low, angled shot past Reading and several defenders. Just past the hour came a moment which could have an impact on the Sarnies’ promotion chances. Wes Daly played a free kick cleverly deep into the box for Luke Neville, who did well to hit a first time square pass to Matthew, in front of goal and with the keeper caught out of position. It called for a thumping header; the call did not get through. That seemed to give Fleet, with just one point in their previous five home games, the enthusiasm to bomb down the slope whenever they felt like it. Reading pulled off a good save to stop a pinball moment ending with the ball in his net, and he pulled off a truly top drawer save from Craig Davis’ powerful shot, turning the ball over his bar at full stretch. Then the corner came in, Hall was left alone, he headed the ball into the Egham net and a trio of mind-boggling defeats was completed. True, Egham did mount a fight back, but apart from one desperate block on the line and Elliott Carey’s curling 20 yarder that Price turned over for a corner, there was little to worry the home fans. The two teams meet again on Easter Monday. On Saturday they visit Ware.