Oxford United 1-2 Fleetwood
By David Mitchell
Fleetwood Town reached 50 points for the season after recording a double over Oxford United in the space of seventeen days.
A 2-1 victory gave Graham Alexander’s men a second away win in four days with goals from Ryan Crowther and Junior Brown taking Town up to fourth in the npower League 2.
David Ball and Jean-Michel Fontaine formed a new striking partnership for this re-arranged game with Jamille Matt on the bench and Jon Parkin not recovering from his hamstring problem. Otherwise the team was as for the Torquay game. Oxford manager, Chris Wilder, made two changes from the side who lost at home to Bristol Rovers on Saturday. Deane Smalley replaced Tony Capaldi and Alfie Potter came in for injured striker Justin Richards.
Town made a promising start, pressing down both sides of the large pitch, and there was early skill from Fontaine, a flick to set up Ball in the fifth minute. Ryan Crowther and Ball both caught the eye around the edge of the penalty area and Michael Raynes was fortunate to see a sliced clearance go straight to his keeper. Oxford have been short of goals and had their first chance on 17 minutes when James Constable hit the side netting with a right foot shot. Two minutes later, the U’s forced the ball over the line from a corner, but Scott Davies was impeded and the effort was disallowed.
Davies made the best save of the game so far, in the 25th minute, when diving to his right to deny Lewis Montrose. Oxford’s comeback was blunted two minutes later when Town took the lead. Good approach work by McLaughlin and Ball set up Crowther on the left for his second goal of the season, placing a right-foot shot to the left of Luke McCormick. Both the midfielder’s strikes have come against Oxford.
Treatment for Crowther followed soon after and Oxford retaliated in the following minutes, breaking quickly but lacking the final cutting edge. Smalley came close with a shot that went just wide of Davies’s left post. Jamie McGuire and Montrose were booked just before the break.
Kieran Charnock replaced Crowther on the restart, the goal scorer suffering from suspected concussion. Alan Goodall switched to left back and Dean Howell to midfield. Oxford made a lively start, with the large home contingent in the 5003 crowd willing them back into the game. There were bookings for defenders Rob Atkinson and Goodall and Potter fired a shot straight at Davies. Town pushed upfield in the 55th minute. Howell crossed the ball from the left and Brown reacted quicker than the U’s defence to stoop low and head home for his tenth goal of the season.
Constable struck the post in the 65th minute with a left foot shot to Davies’s right before Josh Parker replaced Smalley for United and Anthony Barry replacing Brown for Town. Chapman was booked for a tackle on Goodall who needed attention.
Town had a chance to sew things up with quarter of an hour left. Barry fed Fontaine who brought the ball under control and appeared to do the hard work before shooting wide. Davies denied Rigg with his second smart save of the game. Mozzie Gyorio made his Town debut late in the game, a replacement for Ball.
Just as added time beckoned, Oxford gave themselves a chance. Liam Davis struck from distance with a spectacular left foot strike. Constable fired over twice in the five extra minutes but Town hung on to reach the half century.
TEAM : Davies, McLaughlin, Atkinson, Goodall, Howell, Crowther (Charnock 45), McGuire, McKenna, Brown (Barry 69), Ball (Gyorio 87),
Booking: McGuire, Goodall, Atkinson, Davies