John Sheridan continued his unbeaten start as Fleetwood head coach as Paddy Madden scored a vital equaliser in a 1-1 draw against Plymouth Argyle on Saturday.
Madden’s goal was fine reward for an impressive and dominant performance from Town, who were unlucky not to have taken all three points, despite Moses Makasi’s first half goal to give Argyle the lead.
Ashley Hunter shone brightest in the match, and was unlucky not to have a goal to his name, while Conor McAleny and Lewie Coyle both had great chances to score. Town also had two very contentious penalty decisions turned down by the referee.
Sheridan made three changes to the side that faced Milton Keynes Dons two weeks ago, with Nathan Pond, Gethin Jones and Jack Sowerby coming into the starting line up ahead of Cian Bolger, Toumani Diagouraga and Bobby Grant.
The inform visitors had lost just once since November and started quickly out the blocks, showing a taste of why they have been in such fine form. Early on they looked dangerous on the counter attack, but good defending in the box from Town’s back line quelled any danger.
Argyle were displaying some slick passing play, but it was Town who had the best chance of the opening proceedings, and they should have been a goal up. A dangerous break saw Madden slip through Hunter, who had the freedom of the Fylde Coast, but decided to pass to the onrushing McAleny and the ball was ushered to safety.
Minutes later a corner was cleared out to Kyle Dempsey, who opted to shoot, but his volley sailed wide.
Fleetwood were beginning to exploit the Argyle defence but could not find a breakthrough as Hunter was next to have a shot off target.
It was though the visitors who took the lead against the run of play as Makasi was able to take advantage of a lapse of concentration just outside of the Fleetwood box and curl one past a helpless Alex Cairns.
The goal seemed to fire up both sides, and when a strong tackle by Coyle saw the Leeds loanee booked perhaps harshly, it too fired up the crowd, to which Town reacted.
Hunter was looking lively down the left hand side and causing problems against his counterpart Threlkeld, and with the right final product, Fleetwood would be able to create something.
Town’s 22 was getting closer, but there was still equaliser. This time, he volleyed over from inside the area under pressure.
In a fine attacking move, there was to be more agony at the end, as McAleny fired Coyle’s superb cross over the bar from inside the six yard box. It was just wasn’t going Fleetwood’s way.
Next it was fingertips of Remi Matthews that would deny Fleetwood, as Demspey and Hunter showcased some nice link up play in the area, before the goalkeeper saved McAleny’s curling effort.
There was more of the same at the start of the second period as Hunter again used the left side to attack with pace however the Cod Army were becoming continually frustrated.
Cue Madden to level the scores ten minutes into the second period. Just as Plymouth had looked to have tightened up at the back, a wonderful cross from Hunter caused the Argyle back line to freeze, and allow Madden to tap in the far post under no pressure and score a deserved a equaliser for Sheridan’s men.
Town were now well on top and were looking the likelier of the two sides to score. Hunter was still causing havoc, teeing up Coyle for a powerful drive which went over the bar.
Fleetwood were getting closer, as McAleny broke loose in the area and perhaps was cruelly denied a penalty when his ball hit Yann Songo’o in the arm. Madden then flashed a ball across the face of goal that needed just a hint of a Fleetwood touch to take it in.
Argyle were now rattled as Town threw everything at the Devon side. This did leave Fleetwood vulnerable on the break through, and the visitors did threaten with a dangerous ball into the area, but it was well dealt with.
With five minutes to go, the game was tightly poised with all the play for. Cairns was forced into a brilliant low save from Graham Carey inside the area.
Sheridan’s last throw of the dice saw Wes Burns and Jordy Hiwula come on as Fleetwood looked to carve out what would be a deserved win.
Yet another penalty claim went begging - this one a lot more clear cut – and left those inside Highbury fuming as the referee waved away the remonstrations.
That was to be the last action of a frenetic game, which Fleetwood dominated but could not find that winning goal.
Fleetwood Town XI: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Eastham, Pond ©, Dempsey, McAleny, Madden, Glendon (Biggins), Jones, Hunter, Sowerby.
Substitutes: Neal (GK), Hiwula, Burns, Grant, Maguire, Diagouraga.
Plymouth Argyle XI: Matthews (GK), Sawyer (Taylor-Sinclair), Songo’o, Ness (Ainsworth), Carey, Lameiras, Makasi (Grant), Threlkeld, Taylor, Vyner, Fox.
Substitutes: Letheren (GK), Fletcher, Law, Sangster.
Referee: D Handley
Attendance: 3,079 (605 away)