Excellent season ends with narrow playoff loss
A brave effort from Fleetwood Town wasn’t enough as they battled out a goalless draw with Bradford in their play-off semi-final second leg.
Town probed pushed the visitors all the way at Highbury but couldn’t find a way to overturn the 1-0 deficit from the first leg.
A resolute Bradford defence limited Fleetwood’s attempts on goal meaning Town’s most successful season in League One ends without a trip to Wembley.
Head coach Uwe Rosler made three changes to the side that was edged out at Valley Parade, in the first leg on Thursday evening.
Cian Bolger, George Glendon and Ash Hunter replaced Nathan Pond, Markus Schwabl and Devante Cole as Town went about overturning the 1-0 deficit.
It was a cagey opening at Highbury following suit from the first leg as Bradford asked questions of the Fleetwood defence with several menacing balls into the box.
Bolger and Ashley Eastham were up to the test, snuffing out the danger with several excellent headers and clearances.
The first shot on goal came from Billy Clarke in the 18th minute; the lively forward took it on the half volley inside the area but blazed over the bar.
Great work down the right hand side from Mark Marshall set up Charlie Wyke at the back post but the forward clipped his header off the woodwork
Fleetwood’s first effort on goal came four minutes before the break as Bolger nodded a free kick into the path of Hunter who could only steer his effort straight into the arms of Colin Doyle.
As the teams returned from the half-time interval, the lively Marshall who had troubled the home defence for wide spells of the first half, tested Alex Cairns from a tight angle, but the Fleetwood stopper held firm.
Approaching the hour mark, Rosler elected to use his bench in an attempt to rescue the tie, and the arrival of Cole for Glendon, signalled a change in formation for the home side.
Despite the change in tactics, Town struggled to breach the resolute Bradford City defence who have only lost one game away on Fleetwood soil.
With 20 minutes left of the game, Cameron Brannagan was introduced for Eastham as the Cods tried to find the elusive goal that would level the aggregate scoreline.
Yet it was visitors who threatened on the break, when after 75 minutes Josh Cullen saw his effort saved by Cairns following good approach play from striker Wyke.
As the game reached a conclusion, Rosler’s final roll of the dice came as Wes Burns came on for Hunter, with 12 minutes remaining.
Yet despite the brave efforts of the home side, Bradford remained resolute and compact. In a season full of twists and turns the Fleetwood achievement should not be overlooked.
The team and staff have performed incredibly and despite today’s result should hold their heads up high.
We go again next season.
Fleetwood Town: Cairns (GK); McLaughlin (C), Eastham (Brannagan 71’), Bolger, Davies, Bell; Dempsey, Glendon (Cole 56’), Grant; Ball, Hunter (Burns 77’)
Subs: Neal (GK), Pond, Nirennold, Schwabl,
Bradford City: Doyle (GK); Meredith, Law (Gillead 70’), Vincelot, (C), Marshall, Wyke, Clarke (Dieng 62’), Cullen, Knight-Persival, McArdle, McMahon.
Subs: Sattlemaier (GK); Darby, Hiwula, Devine, Kilgallon.
Referee: Mr. D Coote
Attendance: 5076 (731 away)