Fleetwood 0-0 Rochdale
There was nothing separating the two sides as Fleetwood Town played out a tight goalless draw on a warm spring afternoon at Highbury Stadium.
Chances were few and far between in the Sky Bet League 2 top of the table clash with Dale midfielder, Matt Lund, going the closest over the 90 minutes with a well-timed over head kick that came off the foot of the post in the second half.
With the game slipping away, Alexander made three attacking changes late on as Fleetwood chased the game, but the Cod Army could not find the winner that would have closed the gap on the top three to just three points.
After Tuesday’s comprehensive 3-1 victory over Bristol Rovers, manager Graham Alexander opted to name the same side for the visit of the league leaders. Steven Schumacher, though, returned to the bench after recovering from injury to replace Matty Hughes.
Likewise, Rochdale named the same eleven that started their 3-0 victory over Portsmouth in midweek, but Ashley Eastham and former Town defender Peter Cavanagh overcome injury to make the Dale bench.
Intent, energetic, composed and solid from the start, both sides displayed why they have been challenging for promotion all season, but chances were scarce throughout the first half – with the visitors in particular being restricted by a stubborn Town defence to a number of long-range efforts.
David Ball turned Oliver Lancashire in the opening seconds, but nobody could apply the touch to guide his dangerous cross into the back of net, whilst Michael Rose tried an ambitious effort from as far as 30-yards that went well wide of Chris Maxwell’s goal.
Fleetwood did have the ball in the back of the net after Matty Blair’s through ball was collected and swept away by Iain Hume, but the flag on the far side went up instantly to deny Town an early lead.
Trying to impose themselves in the glorious Fylde Coast spring weather, the visitors continued to be restricted to ambitious efforts. Midfielder Jamie Allen tested Maxwell from outside the area moments after Hume’s cancelled out finish with a right-footed strike from outside the area, before Peter Vincenti tried his luck from range, but his effort was also easily gathered by the Fleetwood keeper.
On 25 minutes, Antoni Sarcevic blazed over the best chance of a tight first half from 12-yards after David Ball’s dangerous cut back on the right hand side fell into the path of the midfielder, who has scored three in his last four games, could only curl his effort over Josh Lillis’ bar.
A dangerous foul from Rose on Ball in the centre circle brought the first booking of the game on 30 minutes and with the visitors finishing the first 45 minutes the better side, Ian Henderson struck two long-range efforts late on, but the back four for both sides continued their recent good form as the first half ended goalless.
Eight minutes into the second period, and the post denied the visitors a precious lead as Matt Lund backpedalled to produce a well-timed overhead kick, which was out of reach for the diving Maxwell, who was saved by the foot of his far post.
Lund, again, tried his luck on the hour mark, but his free-kick was met by cheers as it flew over the top of Maxwell’s bar and over the Percy Ronson stand, before Nathan Pond headed wide with Town’s first effort of the half after Charlie Taylor’s cross was met from the left.
With the game entering its closing stages, Alexander introduced Jon Parkin as Fleetwood started to chase the game, and moments later, Blair had the host’s best chance of the half with a well struck effort from just outside the area being palmed away by Lillis for a corner.
From the first whistle to the last nothing separated the two sides; chances were few and far between as the minutes ticked away and despite Alexander introducing Jamille Matt and Gareth Evans as they went in search of the one goal that would settle the encounter, but Fleetwood were kept at bay in a game where the final result suited the league leaders more than Town.
FLEETWOOD TOWN: Maxwell, McLaughlin, Roberts © Pond, Taylor, Blair (Evans, 86), Sarcevic (Parkin, 71), Goodall, Morris, Hume, Ball (Matt, 86)
SUBSTITUTES: Davies, Murdoch, Evans, Parkin, Matt, Schumacher, Jordan
ROCHDALE: Lillis, Rafferty, Bennett, Lancashire, Done, Rose (Cavanagh, 74)), Vincenti, Allen (Kennedy, 86), Lund, Henderson, Donnelly (Bunney, 69)
SUBSTITUTES: Thomson, Cavanagh, Eastham, Kennedy, Porter, Cummins, Bunney