Fleetwood Town’s second-half fight-back ensured new boss Uwe Rosler made an unbeaten start to his Town reign with a 1-1 draw at newly promoted Northampton Town.
Town had a new head coach, a brand new azure blue away kit and a number of other new faces as the arrived at a sunny Sixfields Stadium to take on Rob Page’s newly promoted side.
Northampton had to cobble up an all-white away strip after their brand new claret home kit failed to arrive in time for the big kick-off.
But that hiccup did not stop them making an early impact as Town were caught out by a quick corner and a player some would not have expected to score on debut inadvertently diverted the ball into his own net.
The Cobblers played a short corner and Town’s clearance fell to Alex Revell at the edge of the box, he was not closed down and he drilled the ball towards the bottom left corner.
It looked to be sailing in but it rattled the left stick before cannoning back into play on to the grounded Neal’s back and trickled over the line.
The Cobblers dominated possession in the first half but Town did create a number of good opportunities but only had one effort on target and a David Ball penalty appeal waved away by referee Andy Haines.
But that all changed in the second half when the tide turned in Town’s favour.
Fleetwood bossed possession and carved out more opportunities than the hosts in the second half as they grew into the game and shut-down Northampton’s attacks.
Town were level seven minutes into the half as Victor Nirennold popped up at the back post to nod in Bobby Grant’s right wing cross in the 52nd minute and score his first goal for the club.
Rosler sent on striker Devante Cole and forward Aaron Amadi-Holloway was given his debut off the bench as Town threatened on the counter as the half wore on as they nullified Northampton’s forwards and picked up a deserved point.
Rosler opted for a 4-4-3 formation with keeper Neal and defender Ashely Eastham given their Town debuts.
Nirennold was favoured on the left of a midfield trio ahead of new boy Ricardo Kip and Bobby Grant joined David Ball and Ash Hunter up front.
But despite the attacking line-up it was Northampton who struck the first blow as their first effort on target rolled into the back of the net in the eighth minute.
Jimmy Ryan ushered a slick set-piece routine out of play but Town failed to clear the subsequent short corner and it fell to Revell at the edge of the box who’s effort hit the post, rolled back out, crashed into the helpless Neal and squeezed over the line.
As the Northampton fans gleefully chanted about being at the top of the league Ash Hunter nearly levelled for Town.
Within seconds of going behind Town were asking questions of Northampton’s defence as Hunter raced down the right wing and raced one-on-one towards Smith but his angled strike was tipped away by the diving keeper and away from the on-running Nirennold who had sprinted up in support.
Town grew into the game and a slick move allowed Ball to carve open Northampton’s defence.
Ryan whipped the ball over from the right wing to Nirennold in space on the left, he took his time before slipping the ball inside to the unmarked Jonsson who fed Ball in the box. Instead of going for goal the striker fizzed the ball sideways but it agonisingly missed the toe of Hunter who looked on course to divert home.
Ball pounced on a defensive error and stole into the box but failed to hit the target as he drilled the ball wide of the left stick and into the side netting.
Ball was tumbled in the box and it looked as though the referee would point to the spot but after a muted appeal by all of the blue shirts the referee waved play-on and Ball did not protest.
Northampton should have made it 2-0 but Town miraculously just managed to clear after Taylor’s free-kick rattled the right post before hovering dangerously around the six-yard box but captain Pond was on hand to hook the ball away in the 31st minute.
Town relied on the counter but despite finding width their final ball or touch was missing whilst Northampton regularly looked more dangerous in attack as they regularly bombed forward.
McLaughlin received treatment after going up for a header with team mate Jonsson and cutting his head minutes into the second half.
Town levelled soon after as Bobby Grant pumped the ball in from the right wing, it was flicked-on by Ball and Nirennold was on hand to nod in unmarked at the back stick in the 52nd minute.
Richards curled the ball straight into the welcoming arms of Neal and up the other end David Ball smashed the ball straight down Smith’s throat and Bobby Grant’s effort from distance flew wide as both sides had opportunities to edge in front.
Taylor’s peach of a ball from the left was somehow nodded off target by Beautyman as Northampton and Revell, who was racing to get to the ball as it flew across the six yard box was booked in the aftermath.
Richards missed another golden opportunity to give the Cobblers the lead as substitute Potter’s ball from the right missed a host of blue shirts before falling on a plate to Richards unmarked 10-yards out but he failed to gobble up the chance as he fired straight at Neal.
But that was to be Northampton’s final chance as Rosler’s men shut-up shop and Rosler unleashed strike duo Devante Cole and Amadi-Holloway 10 minutes apart as Town tried to grab a win on the counter.
Cole asked questions of the defence and Jimmy Ryan was allowed more freedom to get on the ball with Bobby Grant moved back into a deeper role on the right.
Amadi-Holloway, who is easing his way back to fitness after breaking his ankle, had a nice touch and showed glimpses of what is to come when he managed to get on the ball as Town brushed the tiring Northampton side off the ball.
Rosler brought Grant off for Duckworth with the latter taking on a right midfield role as the clock ticked towards full-time as Town.
And Jonsson nearly popped up with a world-class strike to win the game late on.
Jonsson found space outside the box and unleashed a spectacular half-volley that just whistled past the right post and crashed into the stand.
There were more positives than negatives from the game as 109 travelling Fleetwood fans got to glimpse Rosler’s new era as Town started the new campaign with a 1-1 draw.
Fleetwood: Neal, McLaughlin, Pond, Eastham, Bell, Ryan, Jonsson, Nirennold, B Grant (Duckworth, 83), Hunter (Cole, 65), Ball (Amadi-Holloway, 75). Subs: Cairns, Cole, Duckworth, Bolger, Kip, Haughton.
Northampton: Smith, Buchanan, Diamond, Zakuani, Richards, Revell, Gorre (Hoskins, 77), Beautyman (Potter, 65), Phillips, O’Toole, Taylor. Subs: Taylor, D’Ath, Byrom, Hoskins, Potter, Cornell, McDonald.
Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne and Wear)
Attendance: 5157 (109 Fleetwood)