By Connor Steel
FLEETLAND’S league season hangs in the balance after a shock result last weekend, losing three-nil to Liss Athletic to end a five game winning streak either side of the Christmas break in the Hampshire Premier League table as the season reaches its climax.
Saturday afternoon’s defeat avenged Fleetlands 10-2 victory over the same opponents at Lederle Lane on December 11, which sparked a return to form under new co-boss Chris Blackman with their free-scoring results since the resignation of Rich Bessey.
Scoring five goals each versus Paulsgrove, Overton United and Chamberlayne Athletic respectively, alongside six against Lyndhurst, had seen the Coptermen had risen to fourth in the table after 20 games; with these statistics ensuring their ‘favourites’ tag against struggling opponents.
Another boost for Fleetlands was the return of Callum Dart, Callum Theobald, Brandon Rogers, Dan Clasby, and George Caister to the line-up; all five players missing the previous week’s Hampshire Trophy exit at Brading due to being cup-tied for the competition games.
But on a sunny afternoon at Newman Collard Playing Fields, the away side struggled to break down a stubborn Liss defence despite key chances from Alpay Serhat Ali and Callum Theobold being saved after good attacking moves when they eventually got through on goal.
These missed opportunities were capitalised in the second half as Liss took the lead after 52 minutes through Phillip Moore, before doubling it sixty seconds later as Elliott Harrison fired home into the bottom right corner under pressure from the backtracking defence.
A third and final goal was confirmed in the eighty-ninth minute as Harrison doubled his personal tally for the afternoon; ending Liss’ losing streak of five games since their defeat to the Coptermen in December last year; both runs starting and concluding on the same afternoon.
Co-boss Blakeman wasn’t happy with the result as he spoke to Portsmouth Sport, saying: “It was a disappointing day. We had all the possession but they were more clinical. We just couldn’t get the early goal that would have settled us down. Blips happen, we’ve just got to recover.”
The result means that Fleetlands have fallen to fifth in the table with thirteen wins and 5 defeats in the league, the team currently sitting sixteen points behind Moneyfields Reserves with only twenty-seven to play for in their remaining nine games.
The Coptermen will now face Liphook this weekend away from Lederle Lane before hosting title-chasing Denmead on February 26; which will be the first meeting between the two clubs this season. Liss will travel to Overton this Saturday with a 2pm kick-off, whilst new fixtures for all teams in March will be available at the end of the month when approved by league officials.
PICTURED BY NEIL MARSHALL: Fleetlands attackers celebrate scoring against Paulsgrove in December, but were not celebrating last weekend as they lost away to Liss on Saturday.