Fleetwood Town left the Memorial Stadium frustrated after a goalless draw against Bristol Rovers on Saturday afternoon.
With the visitors having a number of chances throughout the match, it was the hosts who could have stole the points from the penalty spot, but Jonson Clarke-Harris’ spot kick was saved by Alex Cairns, meaning it’s a share of the points in Bristol.
On a misty afternoon in the South West, it was Fleetwood who started off the brightest of the two sides. Wes Burns found himself in acres of space on the right flank, but his ball across the penalty area was cleared away from Tony Craig out for a Town throw-in.
With Joey Barton’s side keeping the ball well in the early exchanges, they worked the ball left to right, and back across to shift a solid Rovers side across the pitch, and when they did, Fleetwood failed to beat the first man with the crosses into the box.
Ben Garner’s team had consecutive set-pieces with 20 minutes on the clock, and when Liam Sercombe put in a peach of a ball into the Town 18-yard box, it had to be met by Harry Souttar, otherwise it was a tap in for Clarke-Harris.
Town looked to counter of Bristol’s attacks and when they did, Jack Sowerby found a yard of space, but with a slight delay on his effort, Ed Upson got across to block his shot on goal.
Another great opportunity arose for Fleetwood after Danny Andrew delivered a ball from wide, and when Ched Evans got a touch on the ball, Souttar was there but couldn’t get that all important touch to put it past Jamal Blackman.
With pressure on the hosts, Burns whipped in a low driven ball into the 6-yard box for Paddy Madden to get on the end of it, but it must have got a flick off a Rovers defender as the referee pointed for a Town corner.
You have to take your chances when you’re on top in matches, and Town should have done that five minutes from the break. Coyle picked out Burns down the right and then he found his fellow Welshman, but Evans couldn’t convert from close range.
As the second half began, it was Fleetwood who came out of the traps the quickest and when Dempsey ran into the box to get on the end of Evans’ cross, he couldn’t direct it goal bound.
Bristol Rovers’ manager was called into an early change six minutes after the restart after Sercombe landed funny on his shoulder, and he was replaced by Abu Ogogo in the centre of their midfield.
It was more of the same as the clock ticked over, and with the ball falling for Dempsey on the edge of the Rovers’ box, he laid the ball off to Andrew to his left, but the former Doncaster man saw his shot end up with the travelling Fleetwood fans behind the goal.
Coyle nearly made it two goals in two matches after his left footed strike was tipped onto the post. In the next phase, Souttar got on the end of Callum Connolly’s effort, but his instinctive header went over the bar.
There were penalty claims for Fleetwood as 70 minutes ticked over at The Memorial Stadium, and when Madden got his body between the man and the ball, Holmes-Dennis seemed to back into Irishman, but the referee waved away the shouts.
The match entered a stalemate period midway through the second half, with neither side creating much in their opponents’ third. Josh Morris replaced Dempsey in the middle of the park, a sign that the Cod Army were pushing even more of those three points.
But it was the host who had a chance to seal the win after Alex Rodman won his side a penaly. Clarke-Harris stepped up but saw his penalty saved by Cairns - who made it 50 EFL clean sheet for Town after today's result, but he had the crossbar to help him in the process. A moment that could have be decisive in the match.
Burns - formerly of Bristol City - did think with two minutes on the clock that he was going to be the man of the moment, but after he put the ball into the back of the net, the linesman’s flag was up for offside meaning it was finishing 0-0.
Fleetwood now heading into two home games against Coventry City on Tuesday, and Doncaster Rovers on Saturday, with the play-offs still insight for Barton and the Cod Army.
Bristol Rovers XI: Blackman (GK), Holmes-Dennis, Craig, Upson (Rodman 83’), Sercombe (Ogogo 51’), Clarke ©, Clarke-Harris, Ginnelly, Kilgour, Davies, Barrett (Reilly 68’).
Subs not used: Stappershoef (GK), Little, Leahy, Mitchell-Lawson.
Town XI: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Souttar, Connolly, Andrew, Sowerby, Dempsey (Morris 81’), Whelan, Burns (Eastham 90'), Madden (Coutts 90’), Evans ©
Subs not used: Gilks (GK), McAleny, Biggins, Hill.