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Surprise defeat dents Fleet's title hopes

Purfleet 2 Gravesend & N 0

EVERYTHING manager Andy Ford needs to know about his squad's strength of character will be revealed at Sutton on Saturday where the side will attempt to make amends for last night's deep disappointment.

Defeat left Gravesend & Northfleet three points adrift of leaders Canvey in the race for the Ryman League, Premier League, title but with their games in hand reduced to two.

With hundreds of Fleet fans swelling the home attendance to a season's best 713, they watched in dismay as the team fluffed their lines in one almighty wobble that warmed the watching deputation from Canvey in a cold night.

"We can have no excuses because we didn't perform," said Ford. "There are still plenty of matches to go between now and the end of the season and there are bound to be more twists and turns."

The Fleet gave a debut to former Brentford striker Derek Bryan, who once cost the Bees £50,000 when he moved from Hampton to Griffin Park, but he failed to make an impact and was withdrawn at half time.

Purfleet dominated the first half and deservedly took the lead when former Charlton striker Paul Linger beat Jamie Turner with a low 20 yard drive after 41 minutes.

Gravesend improved early in the second half but their fate was sealed in the 68th minute when Jimmy McFarlane rose unchallenged to head home Linger's corner.

Gravesend: Turner; Burton, Duku, Barnett, Skinner; Williams, McKimm, Lye, Jackson; Bryan, Wilkins. Substitutes: Stadhart for Bryan 46 mins; Hatch for Lye 68 mins.

Attendance: 713.

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