Town home defeat
Fleetwood Town vs Exeter City Match Report
Fleetwood Town's winning streak in the league came to an end as they were beaten 2-1 by Exeter City. Graham Alexander made 1 change to the side that were triumphant against Portsmouth last Saturday.
The first chance of the game fell to the visitors with just under 5 minutes played. Jamie Reid got on the end of a through ball and his pace proved to difficult to deal with for all but Nathan Pond who hooked the ball away from danger with a superb last ditch slide tackle.
Town started to pose a threat going forward with Jeff Hughes' ambitious volley flying wide, just moments after David Ball had a penalty claim ignored by referee Mark Haywood. Ball, returning to the starting 11 to replace Jamille Matt, controlled the ball well before ending up on the deck, all be it to a fair challenge.
Both sides were struggling to gain control of the game with a series of carefully crafted passing moves coming undone at the last moment. Dean Howell and Gareth Evans were working well together down the left flank with the latter seeing a decent effort skid past the bottom corner on the 11 minute mark.
Antoni Sarcevic demonstrated his quality and skill with a clever turn past his marker before his long range effort was deflected wide. Exeter then straight up the other end and had a chance to break the deadlock. Unfortunately for the Grecians, Jamie Reid was foiled once more by another well timed Nathan Pond challenge.
On the 22 minute mark, Fleetwood were a whisker away from going ahead. Following a poor clearance by the visitors from a Town corner, Sarcevic whipped the ball back into the danger area only to see Ryan Cresswell's bullet header glance over the cross bar. The best effort of the game so far.
Unfortunately, neither side were looking particularly impressive with both sets of players temporarily lacking the cutting edge to pose any significant threat. Highbury had an unfamiliar subdue atmosphere with the fans' frustration easy to detect. The tension around the ground was seemingly taking its toll on the players as Junior Brown earned himself a yellow card following a rash tackle with 10 minutes of the first half remaining.
Out of nowhere, Steven Schumacher had a thunderbolt of a strike acrobatically diverted over the cross bar by Exeter number 1 Artur Krysiak. The resulting corner saw Nathan Pond's header saved again by Krysiak just before Cresswell's miscued header saw an end to the game's first genuine real pressure. The chances for Town certainly lifted the Highbury faithful as the fans began to find their voices once again.
As the first half was coming to an end, David Ball had a chance to put his side ahead before the break. Scott Davies played a long ball up field towards Junior Brown who headed the ball into the path of Ball only to blaze his effort over the top of Krysiak's goal.
There was a late chance for Gareth Evans who judged the bounce better than his opponent, ran onto the ball but Artur Krysiak was on his toes to pick up the loose ball in the last action of the first half.
Fleetwood Town made a change at the break with Matty Blair replacing the booked Junior Brown. Blair was straight into the action, bombing down the right flank, gaining a corner for his side. The corner from Evans was met by Nathan Pond but he squandered his chance and the danger was over.
Town looked revitalised after the interval, the introduction of Blair was proving to be a good decision by Manager Graham Alexander. Jeff Hughes had an optimistic effort from distance uncomfortably parried away by the visitors' goalkeeper. David Ball was unable to tuck away the rebound.
The first 5 minutes of the 2nd half were controlled by the Cod Army with the Grecians struggling to contain the hosts. Whilst Town were on top, their efforts on goal were generally from long distance which were unable to truly test Krysiak.
On the 55 minute mark, there was some impressive teamwork between David Ball and Matty Blair. Ball played in Blair with an accurate pass but the winger's drilled cross couldn't find a red and white shirt in the penalty area.
Steven Schumacher was continuing to work his socks off for Town, going from box to box without any signs of tiring. Gareth Evans came close on the hour mark, his left footed effort just inches from creeping into the bottom corner.
Town came even closer to breaking the deadlock just moments later through Jeff Hughes. Conor McLaughlin floated a free kick into the box only to see Jeff Hughes' looping header pushed away by the fingertips of Artur Krysiak. The Exeter number 1 was proving crucial to their chances of getting anything out of this game.
With 25 minutes of the game left to play, Graham Alexander brought on striker Jamille Matt in an attempt to find that all important goal. Matt certainly has form to justify his Manager's decision to introduce him to the action.
Jeff Hughes had another effort saved by the fantastic Artur Krysiak who was keeping Exeter in the game but the Grecian's luck ran out with 20 minutes left to play. Matty Blair picked up the ball on the left hand side after a failed cross from Conor McLaughlin. The winger then cut inside, surging past the defender before smashing the ball into the bottom corner.
Fleetwood's hard work was undone just a couple of minutes later as Scott Bennett fired the visitors level. A rare lapse in concentration within the Town defence resulted in Bennett having a clear sight at goal and he made no mistake with his finish.
Things went from bad to worse for Town as the visitors took the lead with 10 minutes of time left to play. Scott Bennett grabbed his 2nd of the game with a tidy volley from close range.
The hosts were pushing forward in a desperate attempt to salvage at least a point from the game as Matty Blair saw his effort trickle past the post.
As the 4th official indicated a minimum of 4 minutes of added time, Town were awarded a free kick just outside the penalty area but Steven Schumacher failed to find a man with his cross.
There was a last ditch attempt for Town to grab a point but Matty Blair's strike flew past the post. Exeter almost grabbed their 3rd goal after a bizarre error from goalkeeper Scott Davies. There was no more goals and Fleetwood Town were defeated after a hard-fought close battle here at Highbury.