A look back at April 2014 for Fleetwood Town
With the season entering the final furlong, Fleetwood Town were still firmly in the thick of the automatic promotion race.
It was always going to be a chase, one that would go down to the penultimate game of the season against Southend United.
April was a great test of Fleetwood’s credentials as well. First up was a trip to Oxford United, who after occupying a place in the top seven for so long.
A goal in each for David Ball and Antoni Sarcevic, who drilled in a long-range free-kick, gave the Cod Army a 2-0 victory on a day where Chesterfield were held to a 1-1 draw with Newport County.
The respective results ensured two things. The first, Fleetwood moved to within three points of the automatic promotion places and the second, Oxford’s Play-Off hopes suffered a knock.
The busy Easter period was looming, but Town had the small matter of a local derby to contest beforehand.
A 1-0 defeat on Boxing Day left Fleetwood searching for revenge when Morecambe, a side sliding down the League 2 ladder, visited Highbury Stadium.
Sarcevic’s goal inside the opening ten minutes was just reward for their bright start, but the visitors, 1-0 down, were in no mood to follow the script.
Morecambe captain, Mark Hughes, headed in midway through the first half, before Nathan Pond, inexplicably, flicked into his own net to turn the game on its head.
Iain Hume’s first goal in the red and white of Fleetwood hauled Graham Alexander’s side back level, but there is no doubt that the unexpected draw was a big blow to Town’s automatic promotion challenge.
The Easter period is notorious for deciding promotion races and two games in the space of three days gave the Cod Army the chance to close the gap once again.
It was also two games that displayed just how far Alexander’s team had come since the 4-0 defeat to Plymouth Argyle at the end of February.
First up was Town’s second trip of the season to Whaddon Road to face Cheltenham Town. Jamie Cureton hit the opener for the Robins just after the half hour mark in what was a limp first half performance for Fleetwood.
Town had to dig deep. Antoni Sarcevic scored for his third consecutive game from the penalty spot and Josh Morris drilled in his first professional goal to give the Cod Army all three points. The gap was back down to three.
The visit of Wycombe Wanderers soon followed. Gareth Ainsworth’s side have proven to be something of a bogey side upon the Cod Army’s promotion to the Football League.
The game looked like it would follow the trend after Alan Goodall was sent off after just 13 minutes, but after displaying the same resilience they had against Cheltenham, Morris scored his second consecutive goal to give Town a 1-0 victory over the struggling Chairboys – a result that confirmed Fleetwood would be contesting the end of season Play-Offs at the very least.
The gap remained at three points heading into the final two games of the regular season and standing in their way of final day showdown with Chesterfield was an ever-improving Southend United.
With Chesterfield not playing until the following day, Town had the chance to close the gap. They could only do so by one point.
Steven Schumacher curled a free kick beyond everyone to give Town the lead, but five minutes before the break, Barry Corr, who had scored two goals in the season’s first encounter, levelled the scores.
Town huffed and puffed, but could not find a way past an excellent Daniel Bentley and were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw.
Rochdale and Scunthorpe secured their promotion, but all eyes were on Chesterfield who made the short trip to Staffordshire to face Burton Albion.
Jay O’Shea scored two second half goals to end Town’s late automatic promotion push. The league only had the title to decide, but Fleetwood had bigger things to think about.