Fleet Town 0 Hanwell Town 0
By Clive Cooke
The few hardy souls who braved the extremely cold afternoon to watch this contest will all have gone home wishing they had stayed in the warm such was the paucity of this contest.
On a difficult playing surface with the strong wind blowing from end to end, the ball spent more time out of play than it did on the playing area and the decent moments in the game could be counted on one hand. Hanwell's side showed a couple of changes from that which had beaten Barton Rovers the previous Saturday, new signing Dan Fleming coming in to play up front instead of Anthony O'Connor who moved out to the left wing to replace the injured Mergim Qarri whilst Luke Alfano returned to replace Alfie Cain who dropped to the bench.
Indicative of the game was that after twenty minutes, not a note had I written about the game with neither keeper having had a shot to save. The best chance of the game until then fell to Dan who chased onto an excellent ball from Wayne Carter and after winning the ball after a tussle with a defender found himself in a good shooting position but he scuffed his shot wide of the near post.
Fleet then wasted two opportunities, a headed clearance from a corner kick reaching Billy Oram on the edge of our penalty area but he drove the ball wide and then an even better opportunity fell to Toyosi Olusanya, when Oram played him in on the right of our goal but he fired into the side-netting. Just prior to the interval, we could well have been awarded a penalty kick when the referee awarded us an indirect free kick inside their penalty area after a Fleet defender had cleared the ball with a high kick. The referee's explanation in the boardroom after the game lacked any real conviction. However, Charlie Mitchell fired the ball high over the bar after Wayne had rolled the ball into his path.
In the opening minute of the second half we were awarded a corner kick but Callum Duffy headed Wayne's precision kick wide. At the other end, a rare Oliver Duffy mistake presented a great opportunity to Fleet. Ollie was caught in possession by Graeme Purdy as he sought to dribble clear on the right-hand side of our penalty area. With two Fleet players up in support and unmarked in our penalty area, Purdy had a simple task to roll the ball into their feet but he held onto the ball and by the time he tried to release it the chance had gone and we were able to clear our lines. Fleet enjoyed the better of the opening fifteen minutes of the half but we Fleet made the first of their three substitutions in the sixty-seventh minute shortly before Antony O'Connor became the only player throughout the ninety minutes to receive a yellow card for an obvious trip on Fleet's James Haworth as he broke out from the back. We made our only substitution of the game in the seventy-seventh minute, Alfie Cain coming on to replace Harvey Killeen who in the difficult conditions had found it hard to make a meaningful contribution to our attacking prowess. As the minutes ticked away, the play was mainly confined to the Fleet half and we almost broke the deadlock when the ball bounced around in the Fleet goal area after a corner from Charlie before the ball was hacked to safety off virtually the Fleet goal line. As the game moved into injury time, we mounted one last attack on the Fleet goal but eventually, the Fleet keeper Liam Beach smothered the ball on his goal line and the referee's whistle then brought a miserable game to a close.
This was our first clean sheet since 14th October 2017 and our opponents then, Fleet Town !!!
Side: Sam Bunting, Callum Duffy, Mason Welch-Turner, Oliver Duffy (capt), Joe Chandiram, Wayne Carter, Charlie Mitchell, Luke Alfano, Dan Fleming, Harvey Killen and Anthony O'Connor. Substitute used:
Alfie Cain for Killeen (77), Unused substitutes Georges Ehui, Glen Yala, Chris Moore and Jarmal Joseph.