Fleet pull in a 2-1 victory following a disappointing 5-0 thrashing from Cinderford
Player-boss Craig Davis praised his side’s character after they bounced back from an opening-day horror show to break their duck for the season with a stylish midweek display.
The Blues chief tore into his troops after a promising pre-season was ultimately undone by a 5-0 thumping at Cinderford Town on Saturday (August 17).
But his resolute young side bounced back bravely to open their account for the new South-West campaign with an impressive 2-1 victory over much-fancied North Leigh at Calthorpe Park on Tuesday night (August 20).
Young left-back Aaron Blaxall – brought in over the summer from Wessex League Fawley Town – proved the unlikely hero for Fleet with a thumping 84th-minute winner after the lively Simba Mlambo had seen his first-half strike cancelled out by a penalty from Jacob Walcott – cousin of Arsenal and England star Theo.
Davis said: “I was proud of the lads tonight, it showed massive character to bounce back from a dreadful performance on Saturday. They let themselves down on Saturday but they bounced back magnificently.
“I think North Leigh are a better team than Cinderford but are more of a footballing side and I back us to out-pass most teams in this league.
“We should have killed the game off with the chances we had in the first half and as it’s always difficult defending the slope, we always needed a second goal.
“They got a bit of a dubious penalty but we kept plugging away and I’m delighted for Aaron to win it for us like that.”
Bloxall’s winner was just about deserved for the home side after captain Ben White had crashed a shot against the inside of a post and visiting keeper Sam Warrell had saved well to deny Alex Bodean.
At the other end though, North Leigh twice hit the woodwork, including in the last minute when Fleet defender Dan Rousell glanced a header from a dangerous free-kick onto his own post to safety.
Thankfully for Davis, it produced a far better outcome than the disastrous curtain-raiser at Cinderford where two goals apiece for Sam O’Sullivan and Lewis Somers plus a late Sam Hunt strike handed Fleet a harsh wake-up call.
The Blues now host Mangotsfield United on Saturday before making the trip to Thatcham Town on Monday.
FLEET: Pryce, Moore, Blaxall, B White, Rousell, Davis, Cadete (Stanley 71), Carter, Bodean (Bowen 67), Mlambo, Carr (Scott 72). Subs: J White, Jahodink.