Fleetwood 0-0 York
By David Mitchell
Graham Alexander has still to concede a goal at Highbury as he saw his Fleetwood Town side share the spoils in the War of the Roses game against a lively York City who caused problems throughout with their pace and movement.
Referee Brown had a close look at certain parts of the Highbury pitch before kick off but deemed it playable after yet more rain had passed across the country. Town manager Graham Alexander made two changes to the side that defeated Morecambe on Boxing Day. Barry Nicholson did not recover from a back problem and was replaced in midfield by Jamie McGuire while Alex Titchiner made his first start up front, reward for a lively second half performance against the Shrimps. Jamie Milligan started his 200th
league match for Town.
The first touch for either keeper was in the third minute when Michael Ingham plucked a Shaun Beeley cross out of the air. By then the pitch had shown signs of heaviness with the ball keeping low on occasions, particularly on the Highbury Stand side of the ground.
Following initial Town pressure, York responded with Jason Walker showing neat touches as Town were forced on the defensive. The game exploded into life in the 11th
minute when Scott Davies, on his 100th
league start for Town, made excellent successive saves from Michael Potts and Walker. Town came under further pressure after 16 minutes, created by Potts who left Brown standing and forced Town into some desperate defence. Three minutes later Davies was furious with Dean Howell after the left back presented Potts, brother of former Fleetwood player Colin, with another chance, forcing the keeper into more heroics as he tipped the shot wide for a corner. Town were not making things easy for themselves defensively and finding it difficult to make their mark in the final third, Chris Smith and David McGurk dealing comfortably with any threat down the middle.
There was a prolonged pause after 35 minutes when York midfielder, Scott Kerr, went down under a challenge from McGuire. Kerr left the field for treatment. Town’s first chance came four minutes later, McGuire supplying a cross from the right which David Ball headed over the crossbar. Kerr returned to the action and was immediately involved, keeping the pressure on Town from a corner and beating the ground in frustration after a run to the edge of the penalty area led to a pass going astray.
Damien Johnson replaced Milligan after the break and the Northern Ireland international was soon on the ball in the attacking half of the pitch. However, it was York who spurned the first chance of the half, in the 49th
minute, when Walker lashed a Matty Blair pass wide of the right-hand post. Town encountered another tricky period of play against a pacy side, Blair causing constant problems down the right with his strong running. Shaun Beeley was Town’s stand-out player with impressive work-rate in both halves of the pitch and Alex Marrow was enhancing his growing reputation.
Brown linked with his two strikers and Howell moved forward at every opportunity but Ingham remained unchallenged in City’s goal. Alexander looked for a spark from striker Steven Gillespie who replaced Ball in the 69th
minute. Lanre Oyebanjo came on at the same time for Alex Rodman for the Minstermen.
A trip on Gillespie by York skipper Smith brought Town an opportunity with fifteen minutes left but Brown dragged the free-kick past Ingham’s left post. Blair tried his luck on the left, feeding Patrick McLaughlin who fired wide. The first booking followed in the 77th
minute, Potts bringing down McGuire.
Town almost found a way through with ten minutes left. Titchiner was brought down on the edge of the area and Gillespie struck the loose ball, his shot turned wide by Ingham. Lee Bullock replaced Potts. The referee brought Smith in as he spoke to Walker about his challenge on Goodall. Town’s centre-back then fed Gillespie with an excellent long ball, York’s defence clearing for a corner.
As Town pressed in the closing stages, Johnson gave Gillespie a headed opportunity in the 88th
minute. York had one final chance from a corner but Goodall cleared the danger, the last act of the game.
TEAM: Davies, Beeley, Atkinson (captain), Goodall, Howell, Marrow, McGuire, Milligan (Johnson 46), Brown, Titchiner, Ball (Gillespie 69)