Fleetwood Town 1-0 GillinghamTom Hitchcock had a debut to remember for Fleetwood Town as his third minute goal sealed a 1-0 win for the Cod Army over Gillingham.
Hitchcock, who arrived from MK Dons on Friday, took no time in adapting to his new surroundings and with it his fourth goal against the Gills in 2014.
Josh Morris won a corner forcing Stephen Bywater into a save at his near post. From the resulting set-pieces Gareth Evans laid it short to Stephen Crainey who looped a cross in from deep. Bywater was unable to claim the cross before the 22-year-old finished smartly first chesting, then volleying the ball into the far corner.
Graham Alexander made three changes to the team who started at Deepdale last weekend.
Keith Southern came in for his full home debut in place of the suspended Steven Schumacher while Hitchcock also came in for another suspended player, Jamie Proctor. The final change saw
Antoni Sarcevic drop to the bench to be replaced by Stephen Dobbie, who had scored in the previous three home matches.
Ahead of kick-off all four stands of the ground stood in silence for a minute as a mark of respect to the service men and women who have fought in numerous conflicts over the years.
Town started the brighter, with Hitchcock grabbing a debut goal and menaced the visitors’ backline throughout the first half alongside his strike partner, Dobbie.
The Scot almost doubled the lead a quarter of an hour in after Jeff Hughes had flicked on a Chris Maxwell goal kick. Hitchcock dragged Kortney Hause out of Dobbie’s way but he could only drag his shot wide of the goal.
After Town had dominated the opening half an hour, Gillingham grew into the game but couldn’t quite muster a clear opening at goal with the Town backline remaining resilient.
The closest they came followed a period of pinball in the Cod Army’s penalty area before Gavin Hoyte saw his shot deflect off Stephen Jordan causing Maxwell to scamper back and retrieve the ball.
Following the half-time interval Peter Taylor tried to give the visitors more of an attacking impetus replacing ex-Arsenal man Hoyte for the more attacking-minded Jermaine McGlashan.
Then, six minutes past the hour mark used his two remaining substitutes in a bid to get back in the game, Luke Norris and Bradley Dack coming on in place of Danny Kedwell and Doug Loft respectively.
Between the sets of substitutions Hitchcock went close again after cutting inside Hause in the penalty area but was unable to find the target.
Taylor’s changes were ineffective as Town continued to dominate and should have extended the margin of victory with 19 minutes remaining.
Man of the Match Evans did well down the right teeing up Morris who was thwarted by Bywater before the lively Hitchcock could not quite tuck away the rebound.
Sarcevic came on for Dobbie shortly afterwards as Alexander aimed to sure up the three points.
Rather than see simply see out the game Sarcevic almost sealed the three points with nine minutes left to play volleying a poor Bywater clearance goalwards though the ‘keeper was able to get back and make amends.
Josh Morris was replaced by Danny Andrew with only added time to play as the Cod Army saw the game out.
The win keeps Town in 10th ahead of next weekend’s FA Cup first round tie away against Cambridge United the next league fixture being away against Yeovil Town on 15th November.