Oxford United 0-2 Fleetwood Town
Fleetwood Town returned to winning ways on the road with an impressive 2-0 victory at Oxford United.
Goals from David Ball and Antoni Sarcevic either side of half time sealed Fleetwood’s tenth win on the road this season heading into next week’s derby against Morecambe at Highbury.
The Cod Army dominated play for the majority of the 90 minutes and rarely looked troubled against the Play-Off chasing U’s.
Manager Graham Alexander named the same team that played out a goalless draw with Rochdale a week ago.
The only alteration to the matchday squad was Ryan Cresswell’s inclusion on the substitutes bench, striker Jamille Matt the man to miss out.
Meanwhile the hosts named former Reading and Stoke striker Dave Kitson on the bench after a spell out on the sidelines through injury.
On what was a difficult surface at the Kassam Stadium, with the U’s sharing their home with rugby union outfit London Welsh, Town began brightly with Sarcevic testing Ryan Clarke’s reflexes early on.
The visitors looked bright when in possession, Iain Hume and Ball in particular doing a lot of the leg work for the travelling Cod Army.
Hume’s hard work paid dividends as he robbed possession from Tom Newey in a dangerous area, bearing down on goal the striker couldn’t beat his final man as Oxford cleared.
Despite Fleetwood’s positive start, Oxford were also looking a threat coming forward, with a number of diagonal balls forward trying to catch centre backs Mark Roberts and Nathan Pond out.
In the 18th minute, Pond, who had already made a couple of important interventions, misjudged a close range header after a perfect delivery from the left by Josh Morris.
On the half hour mark, Town created another perfect opportunity to take the lead as Sarcevic found acres of space on the penalty area after a fantastic pull back by Blair but unfortunately the former Chester man scuffed his effort.
Fleetwood’s persistence reaped its rewarded just a few minutes after Sarcevic’s miss, as he turned provider for David Ball to notch his 13th goal of the season.
The attacking midfielder swung in a corner from the left wing with Ball lurching at the back post to stab Fleetwood into the lead.
The visitors’ confidence continued to grow as they started to dominate proceedings at the home of their promotion rivals.
A sweet piece of play accumulated in Ball flicking the ball on for strike partner Hume to race through on goal, with just the keeper to beat the Canadian international hit straight into the path of Clarke, an easy save for the keeper.
Fleetwood looked to continue where they left on in the first half with a bright start to proceedings for the final 45 at the Kassam Stadium.
Within seven minutes of the restart, Fleetwood doubled their lead as they looked on course for collecting all three points against Gary Waddock’s men.
Blackburn Rovers loanee Josh Morris was tripped on the edge of the penalty box by U’s defender Scott Davies.
Morris and Blair tapped the ball short for Sarcevic to rocket a strike into the top right hand corner.
Town, backed by 160 Cod Army supporters, were not resting on the 2-0 lead and continued to push forward whilst Oxford threw on strike duo Kitson and James Constable as they went in search of a way back into the game.
Fleetwood came agonisingly close to making it three just before the hour mark, as Conor McLaughlin played a delicate chipped ball through to Hume but on the slide his effort was well saved by the goalkeeper.
After a quite 15 minute spell, Fleetwood made their first change of the afternoon, Hume replaced after a tireless shift for Gareth Evans, and soon after David Ball switched in place of Jon Parkin.
With chances few and far between in the latter stages of the second half, substitute Kitson had a late opportunity for the hosts but his tame header was easy for Maxwell to contain.
Alexander’s defence stood strong for the final minutes of the game to seal a thoroughly deserved three points.