Town slump at Highbury
By Sam Gilliland
Town suffered their first defeat at Highbury since October as Troy Brown and Jermaine McGlashan fired Cheltenham Town to all three points.
The Robins took the lead in the first minute when Brown nodded in Matt Richard’s corner at the near post.
Fleetwood took the fight to their opponents after the opener, with substitute Jon Parkin going close in the second half, but McGlashan finished the Cod Army off on the break in injury-time.
Graham Alexander made four changes to the side knocked out of the FA Cup at Burton Albion on Tuesday, handing on-loan striker Daniel Carr a full debut in attack while David Ball made his first start since injuring his shoulder at Northampton.
Matty Blair also came in for Junior Brown on the right, with the latter pulling out at the Pirelli Stadium in midweek, while Stewart Murdoch replaced the suspended Antoni Sarcevic in midfield.
The Cod Army were battling for a place in the automatic promotion spots before Christmas, although they made the worst possible start to the match.
In the first minute of the match, Richards’s corner from the right was glanced in off the head of Brown, who had attacked the near post unmarked.
It could easily have become two for the visitors, when Sido Jombati’s spinning cross with the outside of his boot was touched wide by Byron Harrison sneaking in at the far post.
The wind was against Fleetwood in the first half, with Scott Davies required to punch away a David Noble corner which has swirled in the wind.
However, they began to fight back with David Ball holding off challenges on the inside right channel before flashing a strike narrowly over the crossbar.
At the other end, Jermaine McGlashan dipped an effort over Davies’ crossbar from the edge of the box following Noble’s corner.
Both teams had chances to grab the next goal, with Gareth Evans then driving into the side netting for Town at the near post, after a short corner routine with Blair.
Fleetwood’s best chance of the first period then fell to Carr, who headed straight at Scott Brown inside the box from Conor McLaughlin’s cross on the right.
Blair also tried his luck from the left, firing into the hands of Brown at the near post, while Cresswell apheaded into the Robins’ keeper’s hands after Roberts headed across Evans’ corner, but Town remained behind at the break.
Half-Time: Fleetwood 0-1 Cheltenham
Town attacked the Memorial Stand on the ascendency at the start of the second half, with Carr shimmying onto his left foot on the edge of the box before firing low into the reach of Brown.
Charlie Taylor then burst down the left flank, skipping past one challenge before pulling back for Evans, who was free on the edge of the area, but the midfielder ballooned his left-foot strike over the crossbar.
Cheltenham continued to search for another themselves, though, as Harrison crossed from the left and McGlashan volleyed high over the bar on the stretch.
Taylor also had to get back and block McGlashan’s attempt after the attacker had burst down the right side of the penalty area.
The Robins threatened to score from another Richards corner, as Goldson climbed high at the far post to head over the midfielder’s cross.
At the other end, Taylor again drove down the left before Ball took over, but the returning striker’s left-foot strike rolled wide of the right post on the edge of the box.
Ball had another effort from the inside left position after jinking with the ball before floating an attempt past the far post.
Alexander brought on Parkin for Evans late on, going with three men in attack, and it almost forced an equaliser for the Cod Army.
Parkin made Brown produce an outstanding acrobatic save at his far post after spinning and striking powerfully inside the box from McLaughlin’s cross on the right.
Town pushed desperately to salvage a point, with Blair smashing a left-foot effort over before Carr’s poke towards the near post was tipped around by Brown.
There was one more chance before full-time, with McLaughlin, who scored a stunner against Rotherham at Highbury recently, slamming wide a half-volley from the edge of the box.
However, there was to be no equaliser for Town as the Robins finished the game off in injury-time, when McGlashan burst through on goal on the counter-attack, took the ball around Davies before sliding into an empty net.
Full-Time: Fleetwood 0-2 Cheltenham
FLEETWOOD TEAM: Davies; McLaughlin, Cresswell, Roberts (c), Taylor; Blair, Murdoch, Hughes, Evans (Parkin, 70); Ball, Carr.
SUBS: Eve, Hogan, Goodall, Crowther, Dieseruvwe, Tyson, Parkin.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Charlie Taylor
CHELTENHAM TEAM: Brown; Jombati, Brown, Goldson, Braham-Barrett; Taylor, Noble, McGlashan, Richards; Harrison, Cureton (c) (Deering, 75).
SUBS: Deering, Gornell, Roberts, Penn, Hanks, Vincent, Ajala.
BOOKED: Taylor, Goldson