Matt on the double
Fleetwood Town have knocked League One Tranmere Rovers out of the Johnston’s Paint Trophy after a Jamille Matt brace ensured the Cod Army will be in the hat for the second round.
The striker netted twice in the second half after an Evan Horwood free kick gave the home side the lead at half time.
Graham Alexander made five changes from Saturday’s defeat to Wimbledon for the cup tie, with Dean Howell, Steven Schumacer, Conor McLaughlin, Ryan Cresswell and Matty Blair gaining starts, whilst Steven Jordan and Liam Hogan were rested from the squad. Jeff Hughes, David Ball and Mark Roberts started on the bench.
Fleetwood started the first half brightly, creating a few half chances as McLaughlin and Blair floated balls in from each flank, although it was a struggle to beat the first man at times, trying to hit Jamille Matt who was up front by himself as part of a 4-5-1 formation.
The home side hardly conjured up much more- Ryan Lowe’s free kick on five minutes was about as close as they came, whilst Cole Stockton caught Schumacer in possession on the edge of the box, but couldn’t guide his effort on target.
Gareth Evans saw a shot from inside the opposition box saved by goalkeeper Fon Williams on the half hour point, but the corner couldn’t be kept in by Cresswell at the back post. Town had the better of the first half as efforts from Evans and Murdoch forced the Tranmere defence into action.
But it was the home side who scored first. Akpo Sodje won a free kick on the edge of the box, one which Evan Horwood curled past Scott Davies to put Rovers in front. Like Saturday, the lead was slightly unjust, as the Cod Army made a good account of themselves before the break and did not deserve to be one goal behind against the League One side.
Town could not have dreamed of a better start to the second half, as Jamille Matt equalised a minute after the break, capitalising on a defensive mistake allowing him to slot the ball into an empty net in front of the Prenton Kop and lift the travelling Cod Army.
Soon after a now- lively Matt almost pounced on another defensive error, before Matty Blair powered down the left hand side and delivered a slightly over-hit cross to Stewart Murdoch, who couldn’t manage to guide it goal wards. Tranmere enjoyed a spell in which they had four corners, but the closest they could come was from a Sodje header, which dipped over the bar.
The tall striker then netted Fleetwood’s second with a beautiful finish. He fist flipped the ball over the head of the defender to open up space, taking a touch and slotting it coolly into the far corner past Fon Williams in the Tranmere goal.
The visitors almost let all their hard work go to waste three minutes later though, when Schumacer was forced to clear a header off the line, as the Rovers fans began to vent their frustration on their team.
Meanwhile Fleetwood, continued their new lease of life hitting on the counter attack and Alexander didn’t want to stop there, bringing Jeff Hughes from the bench to add to their attacking flare.
Tranmere pressed gradually, forcing Town to concede corners as they had done throughout the game, but Matt could have had his hat- trick meanwhile, as he fired against the side netting.
The goalscorer was brought off with under 15 minutes left, making way for David Ball in a bid to add some fresh legs to defend the lead, but that tactic fell flat when Jamaican veteran defender Ian Goodison brought Ball down as he tried to go past him; the injured Ball ultimately having to be substituted, making way for Jon Parkin, who immediately let Goodison know he was there with an exchange of words.
Five minutes were added on at the end of the game, as the home side became desperate to get the ball up field, but the Town defence managed to hold out the waves of attacks with each defender playing their part in maintaining the lead. Scott Davies without much to do throughout the game was mostly a by-stander.
In the end a double by Matt was the difference.