Romsey’s hopes of reversing a recent trend of home defeats were dashed last weekend when Fleetlands inflicted a 2-0 defeat, making it a third successive match at The AEC Protection Ground where the visitors have bagged all three points. 

Gosport based Fleetlands, who are managed by former Pompey striker Steve Claridge, scored in each half on a rain softened pitch in a game that saw Town fade badly after making a bright start, writes Tony Galsworthy.

Town boss Andy Samuels was able to name a virtually unchanged lineup, from the side that scored five goals at Clanfield, with just Jo Sutherden stepping in at centre forward for the injured Liam Magee. 

The Bypass Boys had chances to go ahead in the opening ten minutes when Charlie Hawes’s shot went just over the bar and from a corner Sutherden’s close range flick was cleared off the line.
Romsey were dominating proceedings and it looked only a matter of time before they would score, but it was The Coptermen though who took the lead in the sixteenth minute after ‘keeper Miles Bartram was called on to tip away a shot for a corner. 

From the resulting set piece Jamie Winter rose highest to power home a header that saw his side draw first blood against the run of play. The visitors’ Thompson earned a yellow card for kicking the ball away after being flagged for offside, as Romsey mustered only one more goal threat in the first half when Josh Jeffrey was felled on the edge of the box, but Geoff Dunn’s free kick failed to trouble Carroll in the Fleetlands goal. 

Fleetlands seized the initiative in the second half with first Sterne going close, and then it was only Bartram’s outstretched boot that kept Stone’s fierce drive out. However, this duo was not to be denied for long, and it was Sterne who beat two players on the left flank and squared the ball from the byline for Stone to score in the 58th minute. 

Town responded when Hawes set up Jeffrey whose goalbound shot was deflected behind, before Hawes drew a fine save from Carroll when passing to the well placed Sutherden may have been the better option. As the game wore on it became an increasingly scrappy affair, punctuated by Sterne’s shot  that cannoned off the crossbar and Bartram then had to be alert in order to smother a counterattack. Despite some late pressure Town could not reduce the arrears and the last incident of note was a niggly foul by Thompson that saw him earn a second yellow followed by a belated red card as the referee realised he had earlier cautioned the player.

Town’s disappointment was added to by Madden, Wilson and Jeffrey all leaving the fray with injuries while this defeat sees them stay outside the playoff zone in sixth place in Division One and facing an awkward trip to Ringwood tomorrow afternoon (ko 3pm).