Fleetwood Town recorded a huge victory in Sky Bet League One on Tuesday night, beating fellow play-off hopefuls Ipswich Town 1-0 at Portman Road.
Substitute Ched Evans’ first half strike was enough to send the Cod Army back into the top six, with Alex Cairns ensuring the points returned to the Fylde Coast with a string of important second half saves.
This was Fleetwood’s sixth win out of seven games, and a tenth game unbeaten in what is turning out to be a superb run of form.
Head coach Joey Barton named an unchanged side from last Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Sunderland, with Evans replacing Harrison Biggins on the bench.
It was the away side who started the better, controlling most of the possession inside a tense Portman Road. Wes Burns saw plenty of the ball in the opening quarter, with James Wilson in particular defending his low balls into the box well.
Barton – who was watching the match from the director’s box after being banned from the touchline for two matches – saw his team forced into an early change 12 minutes in. Callum Connolly was replaced by Evans, with the on-loan Everton man coming off due to a severe nosebleed.
The Cod Army enjoyed plenty of ball possession and were unlucky not to be ahead on 27 minutes. Paul Coutts found Barrie McKay on the left, whose cross was met by Ipswich captain Luke Chambers, who was relieved to see his effort come off the outside of the post.
However, the deserved goal did come on 40 minutes. A simple one really, with McKay sliding Evans through on goal. Ched saw off the attentions off Chambers and fired past Tomas Holy who did get a touch on the attacker’s left-foot shot.
Harry Souttar and Lewie Coyle – who were excellent throughout – combined to repel a rare Ipswich attack in the first period to allow the visitors to take the lead into the dressing rooms at the break.
In truth, the hosts came out of traps in the second half with more intent than in the first. However, a combination of organised defending and commitment from the Town defence ensured the lead stayed intact.
At the other end, Coyle did force a save from Holy, but his effort from 30 yards was comfortably held at the game passed the hour mark.
It was then the turn of Cod Army stopper Cairns to keep the scores level. Freddie Sears drilled an effort from the penalty spot after an effort was cleared off the line by Evans, with Cairns pulling off a stunning one-handed save to claw the ball away. A massive moment in the game.
Barton’s side looked comfortable for the rest of the second half and saw the game out brilliantly. A huge win and all eyes now turn to Saturday, when Blackpool come to Highbury.
Ipswich: Holy; Donacian, Wilson, Chambers, Earl, Garbutt; Nolan (Bishop 74’), McGavin (Sears 46’), Dozzell; Keane (Simpson 61’), Judge. Subs not used: Norris, Edwards, Woolfenden, Dobra.
Fleetwood: Cairns; Coyle, Souttar, Gibson; Burns, Whelan, Coutts (Thorvaldsson 84’), Connolly (Evans 12’), Andrew; McKay (Sowerby 73’), Madden. Subs not used: Crellin, Morris, Saunders, Holgate.