A spirited second half performance wasn’t enough for Fleetwood Town, who suffered their first defeat of the season losing 3-1 at Bristol Rovers.
First half goals from Stuart Sinclair and Billy Bodin, along with a late Ellis Harrison strike downed the Cod Army, despite Devante Cole’s fourth goal in three games.
Head coach Uwe Rosler stuck with the side that defeated AFC Wimbledon last weekend at Highbury, with just one change on the bench – new signing Baily Cargill replacing Ashley Nadesan.
Chances were sporadic in the opening exchanges, but the first noteworthy effort of the match came when a neat passing move between Bodin and Joe Partington forced a penalty area scramble, before Bodin’s second effort was cleared away.
A half chance fell the way of the Cod Army as Bobby Grant’s cross sailed just over the bar, before Aiden O’Neill reacted quickest to a poor clearance before firing wide of the target.
Rovers began applying pressure on the Town back line, and it was to be the home side who opened the scoring as Rory Gaffney headed down a Partington cross into the path of Sinclair who drilled past Alex Cairns from six yards.
Town were playing some good football in the final third and a great chance fell to Cole who’s shot was saved by Sam Slocombe after receiving the ball from Amari’i Bell.
Rovers were soon back on the front foot though, with Ryan Sweeney trying his luck from just inside the area, which flew over. The home side’s lead was extended just minutes later when striker Bodin picked up the ball outside the area and struck a ferocious shot past Cairns, via the post, and into the back of the net.
With the half time whistle sounding, Rosler made a change at the break, replacing Grant with Ash Hunter in an attempt to salvage something from the game. Hunter made an impact quickly as he forced an early corner in the second half, then firing just wide after reacting first to a Lewie Coyle header and cutting inside.
It was a positive start to the second period with Town possessing most of the ball and were pressing well on the counter attack.
Rovers first effort of the half came from corner as Tom Lockyer headed inches wide, but Fleetwood’s pressure would soon tell, as they halved the deficit. After picking up the ball on the right, the impactful Hunter who played a low cross to Cole, who neatly turned in for his third goal in as many matches.
It was no more than the Cod Army deserved and this galvanised the away side. Kyle Dempsey was next to try but his low drive from 25 yards just inches wide of the mark. Devante Cole then stretched furthest to connect with Hunter’s cross and test the palms of Slocombe and force a corner. From a free kick on the right, substitute Wes Burns made Slocombe tip the ball over the bar, with the resulting corner cleared.
Cargill was introduced to the action for his Cod Army debut in the final 15 minutes as Town pressed for an equaliser, but it was to be the home side who scored the crucial next goal. A corner from the left was cleared away by Cian Bolger but was picked up on the right and played back into the area where substitute Harrison pounced first to regain Rovers’ two goal advantage.
Despite a late rally, there was to be no late comeback for Fleetwood with Hunter’s free kick whizzing over the bar the last action of a disappointing afternoon.
Rovers: Slocombe (GK), Brown, Lockyer ©, Sweeney, Sercombe, Clarke, Bodin, Nichols (Harrison), Partington, Sinclair (Lines), Gaffney (Moore).
Subs: Andre-Jr (GK), Burn, Telford, Bola
Town: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Bell, O’Neill, Eastham, Pond © (Cargill), Hiwula (Burns), Dempsey, Grant (Hunter), Bolger, Cole.
Subs: Neal (GK), Glendon, Godswill, Schwabl.
Attendance: 8363 (91 away).