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REPORT: Fleetwood Town 2 Walsall 1

10 December 2016

Club News

REPORT: Fleetwood Town 2 Walsall 1

10 December 2016

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Goals from Hunter and Grant earn Town victory.

Goals from Ash Hunter and Bobby Grant earned Fleetwood Town victory against Walsall this afternoon. 

The pair struck either side of the half-time break to continue Town's excellent run of six games unbeaten. 

Head Coach Uwe Rosler made one change from the FA Cup draw at Shrewsbury last weekend with Ash Hunter coming into the side ahead of Devante Cole.

The game started with much intensity with penalty claims from both sides being waved away by the referee in the opening five minutes - David Ball was bundled over in the area at one end, a handball shout from Walsall at the other. 

Chances were few and far between as both sides battled to take a foothold in the game, but the first clear opportunity fell to Amari’I Bell as he connected with a smart corner and thundered his effort towards visiting keeper Neil Etheridge, who saved brilliantly.

The Cod Army then should have taken the lead, as George Glendon’s corner was floated toward Cian Bolger, but the defender’s header sailed just wide.

It took until just three minutes before half time for the opening goal to come. It was to take a screamer to break the deadlock. As Fleetwood broke on the counter, the ball found its way to Hunter who burst forward, shimmied his way past a defender and fired into the top corner from the edge of the box. 

Moments into the second half, Walsall had a chance to be clear on goal, but a last ditch challenge by captain Nathan Pond denied Amarou Bakayogo an effort. The visitors controlled the opening proceedings of the second half, but failed to create chances, and this gave Town a chance to push for a second goal.

David Ball spurned a golden opportunity to double the lead as he was put through on goal. His effort from just inside the box was pushed away by Walsall stopper Etheridge. 

Ball then had another chance to score, but this time the offside flag was raised as his effort was deflected away. 

The action wasn’t all one way though, as Walsall threatened to make Town pay for missed chances. Scott Laird crossed the ball towards Bakayogo who took the ball down and turned in the box, but his shot flew well over the bar.

The Cod Army did find a second goal though, and it came after some wonderful play from Hunter who whipped in a wonderful cross towards the Walsall keeper. Etheridge flapped at the ball, and cleared only as far Bobby Grant, whose low hard drive powered into the bottom corner.  

Walsall found a way back into the game with 15 minutes to go. George Dobson’s long-range strike from 30 yards caught out Alex Cairns in the home goal, and reduced the deficit to 2-1. 

This set up a tense final period at Highbury, as the Saddlers pushed for an equaliser. Uwe Rosler introduced strikers Devante Cole and Chris Long to the action in an effort to regain the home side’s two-goal advantage. 

The double substitution put momentum back with the home side, who came agonizingly close to a third, as Grant’s curler sailed just over the bar from distance. 

The game should have been sealed when Long and Cole both broke away with just one defender back. Long chose to go alone when perhaps crossing was the better option, and Etheridge saved comfortably. 

In the build up, Kyle Dempsey became victim of a heavy challenge, with the stretcher called for the midfielder.  Victor Nirrenold replaced the stricken Dempsey in what was perhaps the only negative in an impressive Fleetwood display. 

The weekend’s results mean Fleetwood remain 7thin Sky Bet League One ahead of Tuesday’s FA Cup replay with Shrewsbury Town. 

FTFC XI: Cairns (GK), McLaughlin, Bell, Pond ©, Ball (Long), Grant, Bolger, Davis, Glendon, Hunter (Cole), Dempsey (Nirrenold) SUBS: Neal (GK), Jonsson, Sowerby, Ekpolo. 

Walsall XI: Etheridge (GK), Edwards (Makiras), Laird, O’Connor, McCarthy, Dobson, Chambers, Oztumer, Preston, Bakayogo, Toner (Jackson). SUBS: Cuvelier, MacGillivray (GK), Osbourne, Kinsella, Moussa.

Referee: R Lewis

Attendance: 2708 (358 away)

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