MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 3 Northampton 0

Uwe Rosler
Uwe Rosler
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Uwe Rosler might be playing it cool over Town’s promotion hopes... but after their mammoth unbeaten run rolled on to 17 the Cod Army could now be forgiven for forgetting the whiff of the Wembley hot dog and realistically dreaming of an automatic promotion spot.

The 3-0 win over Northampton saw them move level on points with second-placed Scunthorpe and now Rosler takes his high-flying Fleetwood to face ex-Town boss Graham Alexander’s Iron side this Saturday in what is another blockbuster clash.

This game at Highbury was not such a blockbuster more of a battle against the elements with one side (obviously Fleetwood) trying to play football and another, the physical Cobblers exploiting the swirling winds with some simple but effective long-ball hoof it up football.

The first half was a case of one side wanting to get the ball down and play and the other side wanting to do anything but!

While Town tried to play their normal free-flowing passing football Northampton used the old fashioned hoof it up football worked a treat for the Cobblers but despite creating four clear cut chances the visitors paid the price for missed opportunities with Devante Cole continuing his scorching start to 2017 by curling the ball in from an impossible angle just before the break.

Northampton should have taken taken an early lead thanks to a rare Cian Bolger error.

The defender has won virtually every header in this unbeaten run but he nodded the ball backwards into the path of Richards after Cairns’ clearance was nodded back by Taylor leading to Richards racing towards the box and sliding the ball across to Smith in acres of space on the right but his angled effort crashed onto the bar.

This run has been built on a solid back line but Fleetwood looked unusually shaky and the visitors had another huge chance moments later as another long ball from the back was not dealt with by Town leading to Richards sneaking in but his strike was tipped around the post by a diving Cairns.

Cairns has not had much to do during this 17 game run that coincides with his elevation to No.1 but he was on hand to rescue Fleetwood with that fine save.

After an initial 20 minute bombardment which saw Northampton revel in the conditions Fleetwood finally managed to get the ball down, stop the head tennis and get a hold on the ball on the flanks and in the middle of the pitch.

Soon after Rosler’s men had their first chance, Amari’i Bell dramatically tumbled just outside the box on the left and George Glendon’s curling set-piece was cleared off the line by a Northampton player decked out in a migraine inducing luminous yellow shirt.

Matty Taylor dented the advertising board with a fierce free-kick and Smith wasted another chance as he latched on to another long ball from the back but fired past the right stick after getting ahead of Town’s defence.

It was not pretty but Northampton’s methods had Town stumped although after wasting those four golden opportunities they were to pay the price just before the break.

In the end Cole showed the visitors how to finish.

Ball’s persistence and pressing saw him just get to the ball ahead of Cobblers keeper Smith and he poked it towards the on-running Cole on the left of the box. The striker’s initial effort was cleared off the line but fortuitously it fell back to his feet and he skillfully curled the ball home from virtually the back line to silence the bunch of noisy Cobblers fans behind the goal.

Fleetwood built on that goal and came out all guns blazing at the start of the second half with Ball fizzing the ball just wide of the left stick and Bolger just nodding Glendon’s corner from the left over.

Fleetwood were nearly the architects of their own downfall as Wylde appeared to be taken out late by Bolger in the box after getting his cross away but much to Northampton boss Justin Edinburgh’s disgust on the touchline a spot-kick was not awarded and Fleetwood survived the scare to make it two minutes later.

It was a moment of individual brilliance from Bobby Grant that increased Fleetwood’s lead as he picked the ball up just outside the centre of the box before wriggling his way past a host of luminous yellow shirts to the right of the box were the left footer unleashed a rare right-footed rocket that roared into the top left hand corner.

The game was put to bed in the 60th minute when Ball sprinted through on goal and deftly chipped the ball into the net to make it 12 for the season.

He had been released by a long Ben Davies ball up from the back on the left and after dropping his shoulder and losing his man the forward added another fine goal to his haul as he chipped the on-running keeper.

Fleetwood: Cairns, McLaughlin, Eastham, Bolger, Davies, Bell, Dempsey (Brannagan, 80), Glendon (Nirennold, 67), Grant, Ball, Cole (Hunter, 71). Subs not used: Neal, Ekpolo, Schwabl, Maguire.

Northampton: Smith, Buchanan, Diamond, Anderson, Richards (Anderson, 65), Wylde (Boateng, 61), O’Toole, Nyatanga, Smith, Taylor (McCourt, 82), Eardley. Subs not used: Cornell, Zakuani, Beautyman, Phillips.

Referee: Andy Haines.

Attendance: 3361