Fleetwood Town suffered their first defeat in eight league games courtesy of a 1-0 loss at Southend United on Saturday.
One goal separated the two sides at Roots Hall, with Simon Cox’s close range effort finding the back of the net from Theo Robinson’s pull back early in the second half.
Barton made three changes to his side from last weekend’s 1-1 draw at home to Accrington Stanley with Kyle Dempsey, Ched Evans and Gethin Jones coming in for James Husband, Chris Long and Conor McAleny. Young Ryan Rydel impressed in midweek, and earned himself a place in the 18-man squad.
It was good start to the match for both Southend and Fleetwood, with chances created in each other’s penalty area. It was Town first who had the chance at goal and after Ash Hunter delivered a beautiful ball into the box, it was Madden who was closest to giving the away side the lead.
After a mistake at the back, and Southend somehow failed to capitalise on a bad pass. Demetriou won the ball on the edge of the box and had the goal at his mercy, but failed to find the back of the net. Great chance for the blues to take the lead.
There were claims for a penalty for the Cod Army when Lewie Coyle ran the length of the pitch, slid Evans through who was one on one with the defender and there was a slight touch on the Welshman. Referee waved that shout away, and pointed for a corner.
Dieng went close for Southend after his powerful effort at goal from 25-yards. Town failed to close down the man, and the ball and the midfielder made Alex Cairns pull off a fantastic save to his left hand side.
Jones kept getting into good attacking positions on the right side, with Hunter making inside runs to create the space. With five minutes to go until the break, the full-back received the ball from Hunter, he whipped in a really good cross at the far post and credit to the defender Demetriou, who managed to get something on the ball to take it away from Evans.
The second-half started off brightly for Fleetwood who went close to opening the scoring through Madden – who scored on his debut at Roots Hall in January. Hunter again was the provider, and it was another great chance for the away side.
However, it was the home side who took the lead. Cian Bolger gave the ball away on the edge of the box, and it was Robinson who nicked the ball off him, and ran towards the by-line. Robinson then had the composure to pull the ball back to Cox, who couldn’t miss from two yards out.
Ross Wallace made an appearance with 30 minutes to go, and was straight into the match with a couple of set pieces, and a few crosses into the box. Unfortunately for the Scotsman, it was a Southend head on the end of his crosses.
Southend were made to work for the ball even with the lead, and when they did pressure Town’s back four, it was Dieng who picked up the loose ball, tried his luck from range, but knew it was always rising as he lent back on his shot.
Barton’s side pushed and pushed to get an equaliser with less than ten minutes to go into the match, but things didn’t seem to go the Cod Army’s way. This was summed up when substitute James Wallace was shown a second yellow card in second half stoppage time.
Attendance: 5712 (51 away)
Southend XI: Stockdale (GK), Cocker, Turner, Dieng, Hopper, Cox (McCouslky 90'), Manton ©, Demetriou, Robinson (Klass 78’), Moore, White.
Subs not used: Bishop (GK), Bwomono, Kyprianou, McLaughlin, Hutchinson.
Town Xl: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Holt, Eastham (c), Dempsey (R. Wallace 60’), Evans, Bolger, Madden, Jones (Grant 81’), Hunter, Marney (J. Wallace 46’).
Subs not used: Crellin (GK), Biggins, Sheron, Rydel.