Fleetwood fell to a disappointing defeat against Rochdale after goals from Scott Tanser and James Hosper
by Sam Gilliland
Fleetwood fell to a disappointing defeat against Rochdale after goals from Scott Tanser and James Hosper helped the visitors to all three points.
Tanser opened the scoring with a left-foot shot that beat full-debutant Liam Bleeker in Fleetwood’s goal, before Hosper finished the home side off in second-half stoppage time.
But Town felt that Rochdale defender Darcy O’Connor should have been sent off for a blatant handball moments before half-time, when he blocked an effort destined for the back of the visitors net.
Academy manager Steve Carlin made three forced changes to the side that played against Carlisle, by bringing in Bleeker, Kurt Willoughby and Keano Deacon for the suspended Jake Parker, Michael Smith and goalkeeper Oliver Martin - who went on first-team duty.
Rochdale started the more positive and tested 15-year-old Bleeker within minutes, when Danny Whitehall’s long-range shot had to be tipped around the right-hand post.
Striker Tom Peterson then came close to heading Fleetwood in front moments later, but could not keep the ball down following a Richard Wright corner.
And the visitors made their second opportunity of the first-half count, when Tanser struck from the edge of the area after Lanre Olapade had blocked Callum Camps’ free kick.
Camps could have doubled their lead less than ten minutes later, but could not control his shot past Bleeker into an empty Town net.
Nathan Parrish fired one over for the home side in half an hour, before Willoughby missed Town’s best chance after being played through by Olapade, but the game’s big talking point came moments before half-time.
Rochdale goalkeeper Aaron Ashley was nowhere to be seen as Wright attempted to strike from range, but saw his effort blocked by a deliberate handball from O’Connor, who only received a yellow card for his actions.
Ola Rabiu should have put the visitors further ahead right after half-time, when he met Jamie Allan’s corner at the near post, but he was denied by Bleeker’s best save of the morning.
Bleeker then breathed a sigh of relief with less than half an hour to go as Camps headed against Town’s crossbar, before Liam Fitzsimmons headed one off the line.
And Camps poked another effort against the woodwork, before Olapade saved Fleetwood on his goal line following a massive penalty box scramble.
But Rochdale scored a decisive second two minutes into added time, as Camps slid through substitute Hosper on the counterattack, who smashed in an unstoppable strike to move them closer to Preston North End at the top of the North West Youth Alliance.
Fleetwood will welcome back Parker and Martin for their trip to Walsall on March 2, but will be without England Schoolboys player Smith, who travels to Wales with his country.
Fleetwood: Bleeker, Olapade, Fitzsimmons, Wright (c), Cairns, B Cartwright, Deacon, Parrish, Peterson, Willoughby, Bromley
Subs: Lazenbury, Drummond, M Cartwright, Rajab, Barrett
Rochdale: Ashley, Hill, Tanser, Allan, O’Conner, Antoine, Martin, Cannon, Camps, Rabiu
Subs: Hosper, Spittle, Horan, Masirika
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