Fleetwood 0 Gillingham 2: Five things we learned

Fleetwood Town writer Rosie Swarbrick takes a look at the key talking points from Fleetwood's dissapointing 2-0 defeat to Gillingham

Saturday, 23rd December 2017, 12:14 pm
Updated Saturday, 23rd December 2017, 12:55 pm
Lewie Coyle sinks to the ground after Town's 2-0 defeat

The Achilles Heel that just refuses to heal.

Fleetwood Town conceded from the first cross into the box is a phrase I am used to writing this season and once again I had to pull it out of the locker last night.Yes it was a good team move by Gillingham but with nine or more men behind the ball from the off it simply was not good enough from Town.The cross from Wagstaff should have been stopped but equally the defending from Cargill was statuesque at best, laboured and just down right poor. The ease at which Parker spun the Bournemouth loanee to fire past Cairns was astonishing. But the shot-stopper should also have done much better with the strike. As replays have shown it was savable and now Town boss Rosler has a conundrum that I will cover later - stick or twist?The second goal was also stoppable. O'Neill should not have been allowed to get a shot off from outside the box and it just squeezed past Cairns. That is down to the midfield who should be closing him down and not leaving the job to Town's defenders.There certainly is work to do for Rosler and company as the pressure mounts on Town.

Fleetwood now have just a six point cushion from the drop zone that could even be slashed today if results do not go their way.

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The fog could not mask over a sorry performance from Town

One thing is for certain, the mistakes now need to stop if Town are going to not just compete but remain in League One, because this is a cruel league and mistakes should be ironed out by Christmas.

Town will be working over Christmas after a lengthy hour long post-match warts and all discussion

While most of us will be stuffing our faces with turkey, all the trimmings and a drink or 10 this Christmas the Fleetwood players will be on the grass at Poolfoot Farm to try and iron out the mistakes ahead of the Boxing Day clash at Oldham.The reality that Town are now in a relegation battle has now hit home and they will not be putting their feet up over the next few days as they bid to end a run of just one win in 12 at Oldham. It truly hit home to the players and staff last night as they remained in the dressing room until an hour after the full-time whistle to air any grievances with each player having their say. Ash Eastham told us in his post match presser that what was said would stay in those four walls but it is clear that now Town need to come out fighting at Oldham and show the fans they mean business after that Gillingham showing.

Baily Cargill and the loanees need to step-up if they want to stay at Town

The fog could not mask over a sorry performance from Town

I've been highly critical of Cargill in recent weeks. In the FA Cup second round clash against Hereford at Highbury he was one of the worst players on the pitch and once again in that first half against Gillingham he did not paint himself in the best of lights.He was brought off at half-time having picked up a yellow card at the Gills targeted Town's left side of defence but the reality is that he just did not impress once again. Wayward passes, a lack of confidence and statuesque defending for the first goal just is not good enough at this level never mind his parent club Bournemouth's Premier League standards.Rosler has stressed in recent weeks that his young players must be allowed to make mistakes but they now also need to start learning and get the basics right especially if they have aspirations of going higher.With Cargill perhaps it is the curse of following Ben Davies, Davies is now one of the first names on PNE boss Alex Neill's team sheet and has been impressing week in week out at Championship level after starring on loan for Town.Left-sided centre-half Davies was a key cog in that 18 game unbeaten run adding balance to the back three but Cargill, thus far, has not lived up to his high standards.Could a switch to a flat back four make a difference to Town's current defensive problems? One thing that is for certain is that Cargill and company need to up their game and up it fast because if he and his fellow loan stars do not have the bottle for a relegation fight then they will be found out at Highbury.It will be an interesting January for Town and profanities shouted towards the dug-out from both Cargill and Burnley midfielder Aiden O'Neill did not go unnoticed by the Cod Army.Cargill and O'Neill have yet to have the impact their predecessors Davies and now Town player Kyle Dempsey had last year and Town are running out of patience. Swearing towards the dug-out will do neither of their causes any good and their fellow loanee Hiwula's current form is also worrying.His goal record of seven goals will stand him in good stead come January but even Leeds loan star Lewie Coyle's starting spot should be under threat.Striker Wes Burns impressed starting in the right wing-back spot in the 2-0 FA Cup win at Hereford and with Coyle yet to fill the mammoth boots of right back of the year Conor McLaughlin, his spot on the team sheet is not set in stone.All in all shopping is needed to be done in January but those four loan deals also need to be reviewed.

Is it time to recall Chris Neal?

Alex Cairns' whirlwind year is now whirling to a halt. He's had highs and lows on the pitch from THAT triple save at Northampton that gained praise from David De Gea to THAT mistake against Peterborough that cost Town a point. It is important to remember that he has saved Town more than he has made mistakes but he should have done better with both goals, looked deflated, had no confidence and at the moment is a shadow of the man that kept mounds of clean sheets to fire Town to a top four finish last term.He needs to regain his self belief asap but do Town have time given the current 15th-placed league position to wait for Cairns to pick himself back up?With experienced keeper Chris Neal chomping at the bit on the bench Rosler now has a huge call to make on Boxing Day to stick or twist.He is not afraid of making calls like that having swapped Neal for Cairns in November last season after a 2-1 defeat at Port Vale so the starting line-up on Boxing Daywill be interesting to say the least.

Ash Hunter has surely forced his way into the starting line-up for Boxing Day

One man who deserves that start is striker Ash Hunter.Hunter came on at half-time and for me, was Town's man of the match as he tried his best to get Fleetwood back into the game. It was a poor showing from both Cole and Hiwula. No shots on target tell the story of the game and despite the fact the duo are the club's two top goalscorers they just did not pose a threat, especially in a second half when Town were trying to find a way back in.They both had chances but once again failed to test Gillingham keeper Holy and this familiar tale is now getting old with Town looking over their shoulder and wins a necessity for survival now rather than to compete at the right end of the table.After a sparkling, energetic and gutsy 45 minute cameo Hunter must now be one of the first names on the team sheet at Oldham.