Fleetwood Town 0 Burnley 2

A general view of Highbury Stadium, home of Fleetwood Town''Photographer Kevin Barnes/CameraSport''Football - The Football League Sky Bet League One - Fleetwood Town v  Milton Keynes Dons - Tuesday 14th April 2015 - Highbury Stadium - Fleetwood''� CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com
A general view of Highbury Stadium, home of Fleetwood Town''Photographer Kevin Barnes/CameraSport''Football - The Football League Sky Bet League One - Fleetwood Town v Milton Keynes Dons - Tuesday 14th April 2015 - Highbury Stadium - Fleetwood''� CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com
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Fleetwood Town’s players might be glad of a little respite when League One kicks off in little over a week.

After all, boss Graham Alexander has hardly given them the easiest of pre-season campaigns.

Double defeat in Germany against two-sides ready and eager to begin their domestic campaigns was followed by a reverse north of the border at the hands of Kilmarnock.

Then there was Burnley - fresh from the life in the Premier League, fielding a side packed with top-flight experience.

Tough hardly describes it.

Yet Fleetwood looked bright in the opening exchanges, pushing the Championship side back - despite the presence of Ben Mee and Michael Keane in their back line.

Jimmy Ryan was the man tasked with pulling the strings, sitting at the heart of Town’s midfield, looking to release Jamie Proctor and Declan McManus.

A neat pass from Proctor almost released Tyler Forbes down the right, Scott Arfield cutting out the pass with a well timed challenge.

Then Antoni Sarcevic tried his luck from inside the box, forcing a save from Tom Heaton.

But Fleetwood looked susceptible on the break - a tough bounce taking the ball over former Claret Stephen Jordan, Chris Maxwell denying the visitors an opener against the run of play.

It was the start of a period of sustained Burnley pressure against which Fleetwood did eventually yield.

Forbes showed his inexperience as Burnley broke down the left Stephen Ward invited into the box, his first shot pushed away by Maxwell, straight into the path of the marauding full back, who slotted home from a tight angle.

Burnley’s direct play caused problems for Fleetwood, Marvin Sordell coming close to adding a second for the visitors after another swift attack.

Conor McLaughlin’s headed clearance fell into the path of George Boyd who perfectly picked the forward’s run, a deflection taking the shot wide of Maxwell’s upright.

The Fleetwood keeper had to be sharp from the resulting corner, Matty Taylor hammering a shot in from the right channel which the welshman could only parry, Town struggling to relieve the pressure on their goal.

It was only a brief reprieve, a clumsy Jordan challenge upending Sordell, the former Bolton man a cool customer from the spot to double the deficit with less than half an hour gone.

A goal might have settled Town - who had the head of Maxwell to thank for keeping the Clarets at bay.

Sarcecvic almost obliged, taking advantage of a rare lapse to sneak in down the right.

The angle was a tight one and the Fleetwood man couldn’t repeat Ward’s earlier feat, dragging his finish across the face with the goal open.

Town’s attacking midfielder was at the heart of the action - claiming a penalty moments later atfter a clever first time ball from Proctor opened up the Clarets.

Ben Mee won the benefit of the doubt, much to the anger of a seething Sarcevic, a corner scant consolation for the hosts.

At the other end Burnley’s former Premier League class contined to show, Boyd sending home hearts skipping into mouths as he danced past Conor McLaughlin, Jordan’s last ditch lunge sparing Town.

Alexander needed to find a way to contain the Clarets, matching up the visitors by switching to five across the back.

It provided much-needed cover at the back but limited Alexander’s men going forward.

They were given a helping hand when Michale Kightly left a boot in on Forbes, Lyle Della-Verde’s free kick testing for Burnley, Ben Mee with a crucial block to deny Proctor.

Indeed Town, under the cosh for so long, ended with a flourish, Amari’i Bell putting in a burst down the left to find room for a cross, Burnley equal to the challenge, maintaining their two-goal advantage into the break.

The Clarets made two changes for the second half but retained their sharpness going forward, Boyd’s glancing header an early test for Maxwell after work from Kightly to unlock Town.

Fleetwood struggled to find the same momentum, Declan McManus with an early chance to break free, pausing a moment too long inside the box, allowing Michael Keane to pick up the pieces and shut down the attack.

Town needed time on the ball and gradually they found it, Della-Verde and Bell building a partnership on the left, a sequence of passes stretching Burnley before the killer ball, Sarcevic in position but unable to provide the finish the move needed.

Then came a charge from Ryan, supported well by Bell whose cross couldn’t find a Fleetwood head, Burnley, for a moment, hanging on.

Alexander decided it was time for a change, freshening up his attacking force with Vamara Sanogo and Jamille Matt replacing Proctor and McManus.

Della-Verde also made way for Bobby Grant to enjoy his second Highbury debut.

Fleetwood were seeing more of the ball and the Clarets box but the visitors remained a threat, subs Sam Voke and Lucas Jutkiewicz combining to once again test Maxwell, the Fleetwood keeper unable to hold the striker’s effort, cool defending clearing the danger.

Mistakes from Burnley were creaping in, Ryan gifted a ball 25 yards out which he fed to Sanogo - the frenchman wanting a moment too long, allowing time for a defender to get the block in.

Then Sarcevic was given room to run, his curling blast nodded over the bar as Town turned up the heat.

A third for the visitors wouldn’t have been deserved but nearly came when Danny Andrew’s loose touchg let in Jutkiewicz, the striker dragging his shot wide after turning McLaughlin.

It was certainly a more balanced affair, the two sides trading blows - Fleetwood finally holding their own, and a little more, against thw well drilled Clarets.

And they might have pulled one back were it not for a cynical challenge by goalscorer Ward on Sanogo after the visitors over-comitted on a set piece, the Frenchman’s tumble denying a clear run at Tom Heaton’s goal.

Ryan continued to impress at the heart of midfield, Fleetwood’s powerhouse, picking the passes and pressing every blade.

He was almost presented a gilt-edged opportunity to test Heaton after another swift Fleetwood move down the left, Mee ghosting in to steal the ball from the tip of his toes.

Luck wasn’t with Fleetwood - a point keenly illustrated when a 25 yard potshot struck Sarcevic, the midfielder’s arm outstretched but the handball questionable.

Town were maybe fortunate the indescretion wasn’t ruled to have taken place inside the box and that Sarcevic’s temper earned him no more than a ticking off from referee David Coote.

The free kick sent sailing over the bar was justice done, Town deserving a clean sheet at very least for their second half endevour.

To only ship two against a dangerous and well drilled Burnley side was encouraging but not the confidence boost Fleetwood’s fans, if not their players, need with time running out ahead of the new campaign.

Still, there was plenty to take home for the Highbury faithful - Ryan’s workrate in midfield, the creativity of new boys Bell, Sanogo and Della-Verde as well as old hand Sarcevic.

Yes there are still works in progress, McManus off the pace, admittedly against Premier League class in Mee and Forbes yet to truly convince that he’s ready to make the step from hopeful to first team regular.

There might have been a little icing on the cake - Sanogo with a late break, again wanting too much time before pulling the trigger, allowing Burnley time to muster the most basic of defences, Heaton untroubled when the frenchman should have found the net.

There’s no let up for Fleetwood - La Liga class next up as Getafe visit Highbury.

Southend the week after doesn’t quite have the same ring.