PETERSFIELD TOWN fell to a disappointing 3-2 defeat at Fleet tonight as decisions went the way of the hosts in an action-packed Southern League central division Hampshire derby clash.
The visiting Rams received a boost before kick-off with returning striker Andy Todd, who had been away on Navy duty, named on the bench and in a matchday squad for the first time this season.
But it was the hosts who dominated the opening stages and took the lead after just seven minutes.
From a throw-in on the left, Fleet eventually worked the ball into the box, where Rob Carr was left unmarked in front of goal to power his header low into the net.
Petersfield threatened for the first time on 13 minutes, when David Jerrard’s shot from the edge of the box had to be turned around the post by home keeper Ryan Pryce.
Rams stopper Anthony Ender was then at his best to tip the dangerous Carr’s effort over the crossbar.
Ian Saunders’ side were off the pace but found a leveller just before the break when Oliver Bailey’s path to goal was blocked by the hand of Fleet defender Josh Harfield.
Sean Wain took the resultant penalty and sent it powerfully past Pryce.
The home side retook the lead on 54 minutes, though, when Simba Mlambo roared clear of the Rams defence before sliding the ball under the onrushing Ender and into the net.
Stubborn Petersfield were level again four minutes later when Joe Briggs’ inviting cross was coolly flicked past Pryce and inside the post by the waiting Bailey.
With both teams pushing for a winner, the Rams felt hard done by when two big decisions went against them.
A clear penalty shout was waved away by the officials who then ruled that a shot which appeared to cross the line from a corner was not a goal.
Fortunate Fleet capitalised to net a game-clinching goal just past the hour mark when Ben Toye followed up from a corner to slam the ball home from close range after Ender’s initial save.
Petersfield Town: Ender, Searle, Wain, Brice, Sackman, Norgate, Hyde, Jerrard, Neal, Briggs, Bailey. Subs: Thompson, Richardson, Todd, Lowley, Green