Fleetwood Town 1 Rotherham United 0: Stoppage-time strike gives Cod Army consecutive wins

Fleetwood Town snatched victory at the death from their first game at Highbury in 2022 - and knocked their visitors off top spot in League One for good measure.

By Mike Glendinning
Saturday, 15th January 2022, 5:37 pm
Updated Saturday, 15th January 2022, 5:38 pm

It looked like both teams would be taking a point apiece as a scrappy second half neared its conclusion, only for Anthony Pilkington to pounce on a header from Toto Nsiala and score the winner deep into stoppage time.

Town boss Stephen Crainey had made one change from the win at Doncaster Rovers the previous weekend.

Harrison Biggins dropped out with new loan signing Zak Jules coming into the backline.

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Fleetwood Town celebrate Anthony Pilkington's winner Picture: Sam Fielding/PRiME Media Images Limited

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Fellow new boy Nsiala started on the bench while Ellis Harrison, who scored the only goal of the game at Doncaster, led the attack with Paddy Lane and Cian Hayes.

Harrison and Hayes were involved in Town’s first chance, combining for the latter to play in Callum Camps.

Though Millers keeper Josh Vickers was exposed, he got a leg in the way of Camps’ finish to rescue his team.

The resulting corner saw Danny Andrew pick out Camps outside the box, but his ambitious first-time volley sailed into the Percy Ronson Stand.

Fleetwood more than held their own for the opening half-hour, when the visitors carved out a fine chance.

A well-worked free kick from Dan Barlaser sent Chiedozie Ogbene to the byline.

His cross to the near post picked out Will Grigg, whose close-range finish somehow went wide.

Grigg went even closer three minutes later when Barlaser’s cross was headed back into the danger area by Michael Smith.

On this occasion, Grigg couldn’t get over his header and it struck the bar before being hacked to safety.

Moments later, Fleetwood also hit the bar after Vickers had punched away Andrew’s free-kick.

Camps headed the ball to Harrison, who helped it on its way, but Vickers had made up his ground and got a vital touch to help it onto the woodwork.

Rotherham almost ended the half in front when Ogbene met Shane Ferguson’s cross but his header was pushed over by Alex Cairns.

Fleetwood almost fell behind early in the second half as Grigg’s replacement, Joshua Kayode, got on the end of a Barlaser corner but, happily for the napping Town defence, he glanced it wide.

Chances dried up after that with attempted long balls being returned to where they came from and countless niggly fouls contributing to a disjointed passage of play, devoid of much style or meaningful openings.

The match became even scrappier in the closing stages, with injuries – many of them knocks to the head in aerial challenges – further limiting the flow of play.

Lane’s break ended with Barlaser making a timely tackle to bundle away the ball for a corner before Ferguson dragged a shot wide with the clock ticking down.

It looked like being a creditable point for Town but, when Nsiala nodded a ball back into the danger area, Pilkington came to life and beat Vickers to spark joyous celebrations.

Fleetwood Town: Cairns, Johnston (Nsiala 46), Clarke, Jules, Andrew, Johnson, Batty, Camps (Matete 85), Hayes (Pilkington 67), Harrison, Lane. Subs not used: Crellin, Morris, Boyle, McMillan.

Rotherham United: Vickers, Edmonds-Green, Wood, Ihiekwe, Ogbene, Barlaser, Wiles, Rathbone, Ferguson, Grigg (Kayode 46), Smith. Subs not used: Johansson, Harding, Mattock, Ladapo, Lindsay, Odoffin.

Referee: Robert Lewis.

Attendance: 3,385.

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