Sam Deering’s second-half equaliser replicated the score from Treyew Road of last season but the single point saw Fleet slip a further two behind Maidenhead United at the top of the table. Fleet, who were denied by the woodwork, some last-gasp defending and heroic goalkeeping, must now hope to gain maximum points from Easter’s double-header and hope Truro prove as redoubtable when they host the league leaders.
Daryl McMahon’s side were unchanged from the eleven that eased past Welling 5-1 last weekend and actually turned up at the ground before some of Truro’s own players who were caught in traffic, a fate that befell many of the travelling Ebbsfleet support as well.
On a blustery but warm afternoon in Cornwall, the game took a little while to get going with Fleet adopting their usual measured approach, trying to pick apart the home defence. The white shirts weren’t sitting back, however, and seemed more than capable of testing the Fleet’s back line.
They twice tried their luck from distance in the opening exchanges, Ben Adelsbury seeing a leg deflect his shot over the bar and then full back Alex Hartridge also tested his range, sending another effort over the bar.
Former Plymouth front man Tyler Harvey was proving to be something of a nuisance and he drew a save from Nathan Ashmore before going even closer when a clever effort over the Fleet goalkeeper needed the attentions of Kenny Clark to clear out of the six-yard box.
Sam Deering then saw a shot turned behind from a Jack Connors pass, while Danny Kedwell diverted the corner into the box against a Truro hand but the referee was unconvinced by the penalty appeal.
Truro went close again on 21 minutes when a long throw almost caught out Clark with the ball skipping off his head and against his own crossbar. At the other end, Fleet weren’t finding the target and Kedwell saw a header fly over the bar from an Anthony Cook delivery.
The home side picked up a couple of bookings for fouls in midfield but it was from a Fleet infringement that Truro took the lead three minutes before half-time. Adelsbury was 25 yards out but sent a fine free-kick soaring over Ashmore before dipping under the bar to leave Fleet with it all to do.
After a fairly shot-shy first 45, Fleet’s determination shone through in the second half, with Bradley Bubb brought on at the break in place of Darren McQueen. But the visitors’ drive came at a cost as they lost skipper Kedwell to a suspected broken arm seven minutes after the restart, the No.9 colliding with Truro centre back Ben Gerring and immediately requiring treatment.
Sean Shields was his replacement and before the Fleet could start to feel sorry for themselves, the substitute’s introduction was timely. Two minutes after coming on, Shields got into space courtesy of a foray down the flank and delivered a cross that Deering of all people met with head to steer it past goalkeeper Tom McHale.
With that goal, Fleet’s tails were up and they went at Truro, doing everything but score a winner. Bubb fired just over after his one-two with fellow sub Shields carved open the home defence and then Jack Powell’s ambitious drive from distance clattered off the crossbar.
Straight after that, on 63 minutes, his midfield partner Andy Drury let fly with another effort which also came back off the crossbar, falling for Bubb who connected but saw the ball smothered by a desperate block from McHale. Powell then curled a free-kick just over after Cook was fouled on the edge of the box, but Fleet fans were baying for a spot kick, convinced it was inside the line.
Truro struggled to fashion a chance at the other end and when they did get it forward, Fleet looked dangerous on the break. With 15 minutes left, Bubb’s diving header from Shields’ cross was kept out by an excellent save by McHale while the goalkeeper was relieved as time ticked away when a defender cleared Clark’s header off the line. And still the keeper thwarted the visitors’ efforts when he pulled off another superb save from Drury’s 15-yard shot as Fleet’s final chance went begging in five minutes of time added on.
EUFC: Ashmore, Cook, Connors, McCoy, Phillips (Winfield 46), Clark, Powell, Drury, Kedwell (Shields 52), McQueen (Bubb 46), Deering. Subs: Jordan, Rance
TCFC: McHale, Bentley, Hartridge, Gerring, Richards, Smith, Adelsbury, Cooke, Neal, Harvey, Thompson (Afful 78). Subs: Todd, Yetton, Brett, Allen