Town take three points from Rochdale
A late Mark Roberts header was enough to give Fleetwood Town all three points in a tough game against Rochdale at Spotland.
The captain put the Cod Army ahead after a Scott Hogan flick had cancelled out Antoni Sarcevic’s penalty in the first half.
Graham Alexander opted for an unchanged side, following Tuesday’s victory over League One Rotherham United. Emergency loan Dale Eve was drafted into the squad at the last minute to cover for David Lucas, whose wife is expecting a baby.
Both sides started the game positively, as the two attack-minded sides came together. Fleetwood were arguably the slightly better, as two early Steven Schumacher corners were floated in; one creating a half-chance with a header over the bar from Nathan Pond.
Ian Henderson showed some early signs of danger when his weaving runs down the left hand side left Conor McLaughlin in no man’s land. Fortunately however, Roberts was there to head away what could have been a troubling cross.
The first major occurrence in the game came on 21 minutes, when Charlie Taylor was shoved to the ground by Ryhs Bennett after charging into the box beating two defenders. Much to the dismay of the Rochdale faithful, the referee was left with no choice and pointed to the penalty spot and Sarcevi coolly converted to put Town ahead.
Culprit Bennett, then took the ball past Gareth Evans and Taylor down the right, but his dramatic drop to the floor ended any danger he had created and gave the referee every reason not to give a foul.
The game became scrappy midway through the first half, as Fleetwood used their grit to frustrate the home side, who were in favour of passing the ball nicely around the pitch.
Town were breaking well and opening themselves up with plenty of options either side. Jeff Hughes carried the ball towards the Dale box with Evans and Sarcevic in support, but was closed down by former Fleetwood loanee Ashley Eastham.
And it was Eastham who helped with the equaliser soon after on 38 minutes. Scott Hogan, brother of Town’s Liam, knocked the ball into Davies’ net from around three yards out after an Eastham header was thrown into the danger area.
Taylor curled a superb ball towards the back post from the left but Nathan Tyson could not guide his header towards goal as Fleetwood looked to regain their just before the break.
Rochdale started brightly right after the break with a neat move that opened up the Fleetwood defence. The troublesome Henderson played a great ball through to Matt Done, who curled an impressive shot just wide of Davies’ left-hand post.
Matty Blair then almost restored the lead when his shot cracked off the back post from point-blank range after an impressive cross over from the left-hand side.
A Gary Dicker cross was then crucially blocked by Roberts, before Sarcevic cleared away the corner and reverted the danger. The game was quickly becoming an interesting battle between to very similar playing sides.
Scott Hogan could have nudged the home side ahead on 58 minutes when a Michael Rose corner found his head on the 6-yard box, but he could not direct it goal wards.
Matty Blair and Daniel Carr were then brought on by the manager, in place of Matty Blair and Nathan Tyson respectively in a bid to add fresh legs to a tight game. Both immediately made an impact with Carr bringing the ball out of the air well, Brown receiving the pass and floating in a ball for Gareth Evans, only for the defender to put it out for a corner. The ball then fell to Evans once again, who had acres of space in front of goal, but his side-footed-shot ended up in the stands.
Neither of the sides looked set on a draw, as the game became attacking mid-way through the second half. Taylor continued to go on bursting runs down the left for Town, whilst Henderson was a danger at the other end.
Stewart Murdoch then replaced Evans, as Rochdale began to take real control. Fleetwood’s attacks were being halted at the final third which in return, gave the home side the freedom to attack the Cods with all men behind the ball.
Fleetwood’s lead then came with seven minutes remaining when Steven Schumacher played a short free kick to Brown, who turned and produced a marvellous cross into the box. Jeff Hughes towered above everybody only to see his header rebound off the left-hand post, leaving Mark Roberts with an open goal in which he scored his second goal in Town colours.
It proved to be the winner, as Fleetwood held onto another 2-1 lead after soaking up any Rochdale pressure that was thrown their way.
Next up is Burton Albion on Tuesday night in the FA Cup replay.