Fleetwood Town were left frustrated in their final match of 2019 after a goalless draw at Highbury against fellow play-off hopefuls Bristol Rovers.
Fleetwood dominated for the majority of the game, creating far more chances than the visitors but couldn’t find the goal needed to take all three points.
Ched Evans did have the ball in the back of the net in the 69th minute, after firing a shot into the bottom corner. However, after some confusion on and off the pitch, the goal was eventually disallowed for offside – meaning that the points were agonisingly shared at on the Fylde Coast.
Bristol Rovers forced the returning Alex Cairns into making the first save of the game, after Ed Upson’s effort was parried away from goal before the loose ball was fired over the bar.
Fleetwood had their first chance of the afternoon when Danny Andrew's brilliant pass picked out Ched Evans. The Welshman was then able to unleash a venomous attempt from distance, but Anssi Jaakola was on hand to push it wide for a corner.
Town began to hold onto the ball and create more chances, and in the 16th minute, Josh Morris latched onto another great ball from Andrew, but the forward couldn’t get enough power on his half-volley to trouble Jaakola.
The Cod Army continued to dominate, but were just missing that opening goal for their play. With some great passages of play, Fleetwood kept knocking on the door, but the visitors were set up well enough to deal with the flurry of attacks.
In the 35th minute, Evans almost converted Lewie Coyle’s cross, but the header was just wide of the post. Were Town going to get the goal they deserved?
The Pirates got an opportunity late in the first half. Liam Sercombe’s free-kick found Alex Rodman, but the forward wasn’t able to keep his header on target and saw it sail wide of the net.
The score was goalless heading into the break, with the hosts being the side on top in the first half, creating more chances and retaining possession throughout.
Bristol Rovers came into the second half livelier than their first half ended and created a real battle in midfield, with both teams putting in some decent challenges for the ball.
Just before the hour mark, Evans met Kyle Dempsey’s wonderful cross at the back post, but he could only guide it just past the post with Jaakola rooted to the spot.
Moments later, Paddy Madden had a chance to open the scoring, but the Irishman’s shot on goal was deflected off a Rovers defender out for a corner ball. The pressure was mounting!
Evans had the ball in the back of the net in the 69th minute after bringing it down on his chest, before dribbling into the box and unleashing a brilliant effort straight into the bottom corner.
Utter confusion afterwards with both teams unsure of what was happening. Eventually it was understood that the goal was disallowed for offside with Madden alleged to have touched the ball on its way through to goal.
The chances kept coming, and once again Evans was denied! This time the striker was denied by Jaakola - who managed to get a hand on the ball and push it upwards and onto the crossbar. It wasn’t meant to be for Barton and his men.
And there was still drama to unfold! Bristol Rovers almost provided the match with a goal in the dying efforts of the 90 minutes.
Cairns came off his line to clear a loose ball as Clarke-Harris’ first time attempted was scuffed into the path of substitute, Tom Nichols – whose athletic attempt lobbed Cairns and the two centre halves, and rattled the crossbar in the process!
It was a frustrating day for Fleetwood, who will feel hard done by from today’s result. Sunderland are the visitors to Highbury on New Years Day, in a match which saw Town take all three points in the same fixture last season.
Fleetwood Town: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Andrew, Clarke, Souttar, Burns, Dempsey, Evans, Morris (McAleny 81’), Coutts ©, Madden.
Subs not used: Crellin (GK), Eastham, Biggins, Saunders, Hill, Matete.
Bristol Rovers: Jaakola (GK), Ogogo (Nichols 46’), Craig ©, Upson, Sercombe, Clarke-Harris, Leahy, Kilgour, Menayese, Rodman, Hargreaves (Kelly).
Subs not used: Van Stappershoef (GK), Russe, Bennett, Tomlinson, Adeboyejo.
Attendance: 2,848 (334 away)