Long and Hunter fire Cod Army to victory
Goals from Chris Long and substitute Ashley Hunter sealed a stunning away win for Fleetwood Town as they eased to a 2-0 win at Southend United.
Long had given Town the lead at the break with a super strike from 25 yards, before Hunter sealed the game with a great finish 13 minutes from time.
Town made two changes to the side that suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of Bolton Wanderers last time out. Bobby Grant and Devante Cole came in for Victor Nirennold and Hunter while new signing Martyn Woolford was named on the bench.
Uwe Rosler’s side started the better at Roots Hall and had their first chance after just five minutes. A strong run and cross down the right hand side from Conor McLaughlin found Long who saw his shot well blocked by Adam Thompson.
Both sides were possibly guilty of not keeping hold of possession in the opening 15 minutes, with neither goalkeeper having a save to make.
Then came the key moment of the first half. Amari’i Bell skipped past a tame challenge from Luke O’Neill before finding Long who had time to turn, and then pick his spot to fire Town ahead. The movement of the Fleetwood front three of Long, David Ball and the recalled Cole were proving too much for the Shrimpers backline.
Town’s dominance could – and possibly should – have been rewarded with another goal before the break. Eggert Jonsson went the closest after his glancing header was cleared off the line by Jason Demetriou.
Moments later a surging run from 25 yards by Ball was almost rewarded with a goal for his strike partner Cole. A desperate block from Thompson prevented the lead being doubled. From the resulting corner captain Nathan Pond headed narrowly wide from Grant’s delivery.
In fairness to the hosts they ended the half the better, with both O’Neill and Ryan Leonard having efforts without seriously troubling Chris Neal. Nevertheless, Town went into the dressing rooms with a slender lead which didn’t reflect their dominance.
The second period started in a similar manner to the first, with both sides cancelling each other out with Town slightly shading proceedings. Long was again at the heart of the action in terms of an attacking threat, with his deflected effort almost falling into the path of the Cole.
The excellent Cole did have the ball in the back of the net 25 minutes from time, but it was ruled out for offside. A surging run from Long set the platform for the attack before handing on to Ball who was the man ruled to be offside. Cole tapped the ball in but the whistle had already gone.
The home crowd getting agitated as they struggled to break down the solid backline which was being well marshalled by Pond and Eastham. The latter had to be at his best to prevent substitute David Mooney from going clear on goal – a super last ditch tackle was enough to stop the Irishman in his tracks.
Soon after Cole had another effort disallowed. Jonsson’s free kick was curled into the middle of the area and the recalled striker brilliantly flicked the ball into the corner – but the referee again ruled it out but this time for a shirt pull.
By this point substitute Ashley Hunter was on the field and causing the hosts a number of problems. His big moment of the game came 13 minutes from time. Jimmy Ryan was afforded too much time on the edge of the box and was allowed to slip Hunter – who has recently signed a new three year deal with the Club – to finish excellently from a tight angle.
In the closing stages Phil Brown’s side had calls for a penalty turned down but it turned out to be a pretty comfortable away win for Uwe Rosler’s side who bounced back perfectly from last week’s narrow defeat to league leaders Bolton Wanderers.
Town: Neal; McLaughlin, Pond (c), Eastham, Bell; Ryan, Jonsson, Grant; Cole, Ball, Long. Subs: Cairns (GK), Bolger, Duckworth, Nirennold, Kip, Woolford, Hunter.