Fleetwood 2-3 Burton
Fleetwood Town went into their clash with Burton Albion full of confidence following a 100% start to the Sky Bet League 2 season. However their perfect start to the season came to a halt after suffering a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Burton Albion.
It was nightmare start for the Cod Army as the visitors took the lead after just 12 minutes. The home side failed to deal with a cross from the left hand side and striker Renee Howe smashed the ball past Scott Davies.
It was an extremely disappointing start for Town as they started the game on the front foot, looking to control the game. The home side almost took the lead after just 3 minutes as Ryan Crowther cut inside from the left to deliver a pinpoint cross for midfielder Jeff Hughes, who saw his header glance past the post. Crowther continued to cause the Burton Albion defence all sorts of problem with his dribbling and was beginning to look a useful outlet for the Cod Army's offence.
Graham Alexander's men were in charge of the early exchanges and were utilising the wingers to great effect with Junior Brown this time putting the visitor's back four on alert. Brown saw his long range effort saved comfortably by Albion goalkeeper Dean Lyness. However after Howe's goal put Burton Albion ahead, there was a sense of nervousness amongst the Fleetwood Town players who usually ooze confidence.
New signing Jeff Hughes was already proving to be instrumental in the Town midfield. The Northern Ireland man was connecting passes with ease and stretching the defence of the opponents. Ten minutes after they fell behind, Town started to come back into the game and were then denied claims for a penalty. Antoni Sarcevic went to the ground just inside the box but referee Steve Bratt deemed it a fair challenge.
Things then went from bad to worse for Fleetwood Town. Burton launched a counter attack and from the resulting corner doubled their lead. A low cross was drilled into the box which caught the home side off guard and Adam McGurk slotted the ball into the bottom corner. The visitors were able to soak up the pressure put on them by the Cod Army and then looked to counter attack as they did to devastating effect for the 2nd goal.
Town then fell further behind after a rare lapse of concentration at the back. Right back Liam Hogan was caught out of position and allowed Albion's Chris Hussey a clear sight at goal. Hussey drilled the ball across the turf and after hitting the inside of the post, it was 3-0 to the visitors just after the half hour mark.
The rain continued to thrash down here at Highbury and many players were struggling to maintain their balance. It was safe to say the Fleetwood faithful were starting to become frustrated with the little errors their side were committing. The conditions did restrict the style of football Town usually treat their fans to. However, the first half saw the home side fail to produce the high standard of performance they had set in their two previous league games.
The leading side kicked off the second half as the torrential downpour seemed to have eased. It was Fleetwood who had the first attempt following the restart. David Ball shrugged off the the Albion defender well but his shot zipped past Lyness' post. There then followed more trouble for Town as Scott Davies was forced into action once more. Alex McDonald had a successful run at the Town defence but Davies saved his stinging effort well, tipping it wide for a corner. The resulting set piece saw Renee Howe squander a chance to grab his second goal of the game, his header
flying past the post.
With just over half an hour to play, Fleetwood brought on Jamille Matt for Steven Schumacher and Gareth Evans for Ryan Crowther. The change in personnel seemed to rejuvinate the home time and the supporters. Matt looked instantly comfortable with the ball at his feet, bringing his teammates into play but silly mistakes didn't allow Town to create many chances on goal.
Town's number 10 Matt was again playing well up front and it was his ball that set Brown down the right hand side only to see Ball blaze over the bar. However, moments later Town dared to dream that the comeback was on after Jeff Hughes grabbed the home side a goal. Antoni Sarcevic ran directly at the heart of the Albion defence and his pass set up Hughes who tucked away comfortably, with 25 minutes to play.
It was all Town after Hughes' goal and the balance of play looked to be shifting in Town's favour. Junior Brown again causing havoc down the right hand side, saw his cross miss Matt's head by only inches. However just moments later, Jamile Matt fired Fleetwood right back in the game. Another great bit of play by Antoni Sarcevic as his run wasn't dealt with by Albion and his pass found Matt who smashed the ball into the top of the net. Highbury was rocking as the fans believed the game was not over just yet.
Substitute Gareth Evans saw his long ranged effort saved well by Lyness but there was definitely a new found belief within the Cod Army that was lacking in the first 45 minutes. The defence was at sixes and sevens attempting to stop the relentless attack of Fleetwood Town.
The final ten minutes began and it was all out attack from The Cod Army. Town were throwing everyone forward in a bid to make the game all square but Albion's resistance looked like it might just have been breached for the last time. There was a late chance for Ryan Cresswell as the centre back became the third striker for the last 5 minutes but his header flew over the bar.
5 minutes of added time were indicated by the 4th official but Town were struggling to keep the ball in the opposition's half. Nathan Pond came on with just a few minutes to go for the injured Ryan Cresswell who took a nasty blow to the face. A last minute free-kick was blasted wide by Junior Brown as Town suffered their first defeat of the season.
Substitutions- Schumacher (Matt), Crowther (Evans), Cresswell (Pond)