Fleetwood 1-3 Accrington
By David Mitchell
The Red Rose derby honours went to Accrington Stanley who inflicted on Fleetwood Town their fourth defeat of the season with a 3-1 victory.
A second half strike from Jamie McGuire proved a consolation only as defensive errors had contributed to Town’s fate by then with an early penalty from former England striker, James Beattie, and further goals from George Miller and Rommy Boco.
Both sides made three changes from the weekend games. Town’s Shaun Beeley reported ill and was replaced at right back by Conor McLaughlin while Damien Johnson and Curtis Obeng returned in place of Barry Nicholson and Tom Barkhuizen. For Accrington there was a first start for Beattie, in attack while defender, Rob Atkinson, currently on loan from Town, was ineligible.
There was early anxiety in the visitor’s defence when a long throw from the right by Obeng in the second minute was flicked on by Youl Mawéné and David Ball almost exploited the half chance. Town saw most of the early ball with Johnson looking assured in midfield on his first start in seven games.
Stanley came back to force successive corners after six minutes, the second leading towards the opening goal. A push by Mawéné brought Peter Murphy down and referee Haines calmly pointed to the spot. Beattie scored from the penalty, his first goal at first team level since November 2009. There was further trouble for Town after 16 minutes. Play built down the left, the defence got into a tangle at the back post from a Lee Molyneaux cross and midfielder Miller gratefully tapped the ball home. Town were distinctly second best, losing possession too easily and unable to create opportunities to get behind the large numbers of white shirts facing them in the final third of the pitch.
Brown was booked in the 35th
minute, for a foul on Dean Winnard. Town’s first chance of the half came in the 39th
minute. Brown cleverly fed the overlapping Howell and from the full-back’s teasing cross Johnson had a right foot shot on target valiantly blocked by Aristote Nsiala. It was to prove the best opportunity in a distinctly lack-lustre half.
Within thirty seconds of the restart Boco had a chance to put the game beyond Town’s reach, his volley from the inside left channel saved by Scott Davies at the near post. A Ball shot at the opposite end went narrowly over the crossbar into the Memorial Stand soon after. Town’s defensive woes continued with Beattie pouncing on a lack of communication between Howell and Mawéné to fire an ambitious shot from distance which looped over Davies and inches over the crossbar. Craig Lindfield came close after 52 minutes, having found lots of space in the area.
Nicholson got a ball over the defence two minutes later, Obeng aiming a header over the bar. Nsiala was booked for a challenge in the 56th
minute and nearly brought Town back into the game. Nicholson beat goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin with a clever free kick from 20 yards which came back off the right hand post. Barry Ferguson then found Nicholson in the area as Town put the Stanley defence under pressure.
It was short-lived. Mawéné lost the ball in the final third and a quick clearance found Beattie who slipped past Steve McNulty. His shot was saved by Davies but the former Blackburn striker reacted quickly to provide Rommy Boco with his seventh goal of the season just after the hour. The Benin international’s celebrations earned him a booking.
Rodrigo Branco made his Town debut in place of Obeng on 62 minutes and there were two changes for Stanley with James Gray and Padraig Amond on for Molyneaux and Beattie.
Town got a toe hold in the game in the 67th
minute when McGuire swept in a Nicholson corner for his first league goal of the season. They pressed for a second but the Stanley defence remained resolute and Micky Mellon’s side were still guilty of losing the ball too easily. A quick counter by Stanley in the 80th
minute from one such example ended with Boco forcing a fine save from Davies, who tipped a dipping shot over the bar.
Brown nearly added a second in the 87th
minute, an acrobatic overhead kick producing a good reaction from Dunbavin. Branco sent a powerful header wide of the post moments later. Danny Schofield saw a few seconds of match time as he replaced Craig Linfield.
TOWN: Davies, McLaughlin, McNulty (captain), Mawéné, Howell, Obeng (Branco 62), Johnson (Nicholson 45), Ferguson, McGuire, Brown, Ball