MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 2 Oxford 0

Bobby Grant celebrates his goal with Uwe Rosler and Lewie Coyle
Bobby Grant celebrates his goal with Uwe Rosler and Lewie Coyle

A former boss once snarled that a Saturday afternoon was not ‘the Bobby Grant show’ but on his 100th league appearance for the club the versatile midfielder made sure his was the name on the lips of the exiting Cod Army as they strolled out of Highbury.

A former boss once snarled that a Saturday afternoon was not ‘the Bobby Grant show’ but on his 100th league appearance for the club the versatile midfielder made sure his was the name on the lips of the exiting Cod Army as they strolled out of Highbury.
Ever the showman the midfielder left it late as Oxford read the script and backed off en masse, playing into Grant’s hands and giving him an eye at goal.
He didn’t need asking twice as he curled the ball through a sea of bodies from outside the box to give Town the lead in the 88th minute.
It was 2-0 in injury time as substitute Ash Hunter used his pace to race on to a Kyle Dempsey scorcher, round the keeper and roll the ball over to Grant.
At an improbable angle Grant rolled the ball back to Jordy Hiwula who did the business from six yards.
At just 27 Grant was the oldest Town player on the pitch but he is taking to the senior player role like a duck to water as he typified a solid all round team performance and lit up a dull day on the Fylde coast.
As the seasons change Town’s top six mentality looks to be back in force with a performance worthy of last term’s top four finish, as Grant like the rest of Uwe Rosler’s crop, grow in confidence and learnt their lessons with no sign of the Achilles Hell of recent weeks set-piece defending and an inability to deal with crosses into the mix all but a distant memory as Town kept their first clean sheet since THAT 3-0 win at Bradford.
It was a solid defensive display with Fleetwood head coach Rosler making three changes.
Cian Bolger returned from the suspension that saw him miss the 1-0 defeat at league leaders Shrewsbury Town to replace Nathan Pond in the heart of the back three.
George Glendon and Grant replaced Alden O’Neill and Markus Schwabl in midfield as Rosler opted for a 3-5-2 once again.
The action in the first 45 though was as dull as the cloudy grey skies above Highbury with Fleetwood failing to muster a shot on target though it was to be all part of the plan with Town setting up with plenty of bodies behind the ball and determined to
Oxford in their luminous yellow kit shone the brighter of the two sides in the first half but Wes Thomas was left rueing what might have been as he outmuscled Bailey Cargill to run one on one with Cairns but the Town stopper was on hand to pull off a fine reflex save and scoop the ball past the right stick in the 23rd minute.
Fleetwood allowed their visitors to keep hold of the ball in unthreatening positions with Rosler’s side uncharacteristically clocking up just over 30 percent of the possession in the first 45 though despite the defensive set-up Oxford could not break them down.
McAleny did look a threat against his old club but the ball just would not fall for him with the forward wasting a golden opportunity to punish a club he enjoyed a blistering 10 goal 14 start loan spell at in the second half of last term. The striker had pounced on John Mousino’s loose pass out from the back on the edge of the box but the U’s has enough bodies back and he was forced wide and his cross from the right was deflected out for a corner.
Oxford found joy on the left with Ruffles whipping the ball into Henry at the back stick but Bell just did enough to stop the threat with Jack Payne slicing the ball way wide just before the break.
The swirling winds continued to take their toll in the second 45 though they nearly aided Grant as his left footed volley whirled through the air but flashed over.
It continued to be a dull affair until a Cole effort sparked the game into life.
The 22-year-old’s strike was just tipped round the post as Town finally had their first effort on target just after the hour mark.
Cole snuck in again as he ghosted past a couple of yellow shirts but the U’s recovered to block his eventual shot with Glendon mopping up the rebound though the ex-Manchester City youngster’s effort was deflected wide.
Coyle tried the spectacular in the 66th minute but his curling ball in from the right just failed to squeeze into the bottom left corner.
It was all Town but despite finding their teeth in the attacking third they could not find that killer pass or final ball to get the goal their dominance deserved.
Oxford grew in confidence with Town firing blanks and created some attacks of their own though Fleetwood absorbed the pressure.
McAleny was released by Dempsey but he took too long to pull the trigger in the box and Oxford blocked his effort - again promising positioning but like Rosler has stressed - this is not the Conor McAleny who left us at Northampton but he still got himself into good positions and when that goal finally comes you sense the floodgates will re-open.
The forward’s lack of match sharpness showed as he got in another good position but once again failed to test the keeper with Grant’s effort on the rebound blocked.
Hunter and Hiwula replaced Cole and McAleny with Hunter making an immediate impact to blast the ball down Eastwood’s throat.
Coyle broke into the box once again but blasted the ball over the bar but despite Town’s dominance the score remained locked at 0-0 and Oxford were far from dead and buried.
Glendon lost the ball with Payne feeding Thomas who blasted over.
But the substitutions once again gave Fleetwood the momentum though once again they left it late.
Grant would chuckle that it was all in the script as he fired home and then teed-up Hiwula but it was not the Bobby Grant show, it was a solid game built from the back as Town sent a reminder they are a force to be reckoned with.

Fleetwood: Cairns, Coyle, Bell, Eastham, Dempsey, McAleny (Hunter, 76) Grant, Bolger, Glendon (O’Neill, 90) Cargill, Cole (Hiwula, 76) Subs not used: Neal, Pond, Burns, Schwabl.

Oxford: Eastwood, Ribeiro, Tiandalli, Nelson, Ledson, Thomas, Payne (Obika, 82) Ruffles, Henry, Mowatt (Rothwell, 76) Mousinho. Subs not used: Shearer, Williamson, Martin, Hall, Fernandez.