Fleetwood Town fell to a 3-1 defeat to Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium in Sky Bet League One on Tuesday evening.
Early first-half goals from Luke McNally and Cameron Brannagan saw the visitors take a two-goal lead, but a superb solo goal from Jay Matete saw the deficit halved just before the break. Town put in a valiant performance in the second half, creating a number of chances, but Nathan Holland’s 69th minute strike secured all three points for the hosts.
The hosts took an early lead when Herbie Kane’s inswinging corner from the right was headed into the far corner by McNally.
Soon after, Fleetwood went on the attack with Joe Garner at the forefront. His effort from close range could only find the gloves of goalkeeper Connal Trueman. J.Garner was at the heart of the action again a minute later as he found Callum Morton out wide, but he was dispossessed by McNally.
Oxford doubled their lead in the 12th minute when Brannagan was picked out with a low cross from the right flank – with the midfielder drilling an effort into the bottom left, past the diving Alex Cairns.
Matete looked to create an opportunity for Town to pull one back when he drove to the byline and looked for Paddy Lane in the area. However, his cross was just out of reach of the Northern Ireland Under-21s international.
Dan Batty looked to pick out a red shirt with his free-kick into the penalty area, but it was punched away by the Yellow’s goalkeeper. Max Clark met the loose ball in the edge of the box but his half volley flew over the crossbar.
Bodin came close for the hosts when he was picked out by Brannagan inside the Fleetwood area. His close-range strike was blocked by the onrushing Town defence and nestled safely in the gloves of Cairns.
Just after the half-hour mark, Callum Johnson worked the ball nicely on the right-hand side before spotting the run of Morton in the middle of the box, but his headed effort went wide of the post.
The Cod Army found a way back into the game just before the break thanks to a piece of individual brilliance from Matete. He picked up the ball close to the halfway line, stormed down the left wing before driving into the penalty area and slotting the ball past Trueman.
Oxford had the final chance of the first period when captain James Henry tried his luck from range. However, his optimistic effort sailed wide of the goal.
Lane came close to levelling the score in the second half when he cut inside from the left-wing. His low, driven shot towards the near post was saved by the Oxford stopper.
At the other end, Gavin Whyte forced Cairns into action when he latched onto a ball over the top. His strike was too close to the Fleetwood keeper who held the effort. Minutes later, the forward got in behind ahead, but a heavy touch meant he was unable to get his shot away. Instead, he set up Steve Seddon whose first-time effort was too high.
In the 68th minute, Nathan Holland added Oxford’s third when he drifted inside from the left. After creating space in the area, he picked out the bottom right corner.
After coming off the bench, Marcus McGuane came close when he tried to find the net from 18 yards, but he couldn’t find the target.
Harrison Biggin’s audacious effort found the feet of Morton at the back post, but the striker couldn’t convert his effort from close range.
Town XI: Cairns (GK), Andrew, Clarke (C) (Holgate 71’), Morton, J.Garner (Morris 19’), Matete, Batty, Johnson, Biggins, Clark (G.Garner 71’), Lane.
Unused subs: Crellin (GK), McLaughlin, Edmondson, Johnson.
Oxford XI: Trueman (GK), Long, Brannagan, McNally, Henry (C), Hanson, Whyte, Bodin (McGuane 66’), Kane, Holland (Cooper 90'), Seddon.
Unused subs: Brearey (GK), Agyei, Goodrham.
Attendance: 5708 (59 away)