Cairns’ clean sheet after five-year wait

Fleetwood celebrate Conor McLaughlin's winner

Fleetwood celebrate Conor McLaughlin's winner

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Alex Cairns kept a clean sheet on his baptism of fire at former club Chesterfield, where Fleetwood sealed their second League One win in four days.

Cairns made only his second-ever League appearance five years after his first in Town’s 1-0 win over the Spireites, replacing Chris Neal in the ninth minute after the keeper was accidentally kneed in the face by Gary Liddle.

The 23-year-old’s only previous League outing had been in Leeds’ 5-0 Championship defeat at Blackpool in 2011.

Cairns spent the first half of last season at Chesterfield without breaking into the side, but last night he thwarted former team-mate Jay O’Shea to protect the lead given to Town by Conor McLaughin’s 40th-minute goal.

Head coach Uwe Rosler said of Cairns: “At this level, when players are not used very often they find it hard to take in.

“It is just another example that at Fleetwood it is a squad game and not about 11 players. Everybody is needed, and Alex came in and did a fantastic job.

“It was real pressure on him in the second half and he did fantastically well.

“I think his handling was very good. He didn’t give anything – no rebounds – but unfortunately we did not kill the game off to give him a quieter last 10 minutes, but he dealt with that very well.

“We didn’t start the game particularly well. We started the game like we finished the last game against Peterborough, which played completely into their hands.

“We wanted to play out of trouble and we played too many back passes and square passes, which invited pressure.

“They did not have a clear- cut chance but had big momentum. We then adjusted and played more how we should away from home, especially against a really desperate side like Chesterfield.”

Town did have a lucky break when the woodwork denied substitute Ched Evans and Rosler added: “I think the second half was much better but we should have killed the game off. We had three very good chances, but when you don’t get the second goal in this league the last 10 or 15 minutes will always be nerve-wracking.

“Jack Sowerby (a scorer on Saturday’s full debut) was involved again and the goal was very well taken by Conor.”