MATCH REPORT: Peterborough 2 Fleetwood 0

Fleetwood's Conor McAleny and Ash Hunter on the attack
Fleetwood's Conor McAleny and Ash Hunter on the attack

Fleetwood Town's season continues to whimper towards the finish line but thanks to that initial resurgence under John Sheridan Town could officially celebrate safety.

A 2-0 defeat at Peterborough could not stop the inevitable news that now with one game to go Fleetwood are mathematically safe.

Though after suffering their third successive defeat in a row it is a case of ensuring Sheridan's short reign ends in the fashion it should, with a deserved bang when they host Walsall in the final game of the campaign next time out.

For most it was a case of watching what to build on for next term with safety all but secured before kick-off and we got to see a few familiar faces back in contention as Fleetwood boss Sheridan rang the changes for the clash at Peterborough.

It was Sheridan's penultimate game in charge and he made six changes for this clash.

Sheridan was forced to make one change with Wes Burns missing the clash due to injury.

And the Town boss made a further five changes to the side that lost 4-0 to Wigan as he switched to a 3-5-2 formation.

Keeper Chris Neal replaced Cairns to make his first start under Sheridan with skipper Nathan Pond, midfielders George Glendon and Jack Sowerby and strike duo Paddy Madden and Conor McAleny coming into the side.

With Burns out of contention Nathan Sheron joined Jordy Hiwula, Bobby Grant, Toumani Diagouraga, Gethin Jones and Cairns on the bench as they made way.

Fleetwood had been lacking a little creativity in the middle and Sheridan made a couple of changes in that department to try and address that.

Glendon and Sowerby were the duo chosen to support Dempsey in that task and they helped Town get more possession in the opening stages.

That lead to an early chance for the recalled McAleny as he managed to squirm his way into the box but his effort was cleared.

Fleetwood looked sharp in attack but it was to be the Posh who asked the biggest question in the opening exchanges as Marriott slipped in the gap between the back three to run one-on-one with Neal but the recalled goalkeeper was not giving his clean sheet away without a fight as he pulled off a fine save to thwart the 26-goal hit-man.

George Cooper also managed to outfox Town's defence but he fired the ball straight at Neal though that chance woke Fleetwood back up.

With the pace in the side Town looked to counter and they did just that with Sowerby surging forward from the middle he could have released the unmarked Madden but he opted to go for goal and unleashed a fierce strike from distance that just fizzed past the right stick.

Though it was the Posh that continued to press with Fleetwood defender Eastham clearing a set-piece but the re-worked ball fell to Anthony Grant with Town only rescued by the woodwork as his thundering strike flew over Neal and crashed into the underside of the bar before dropping down for Town to clear. Grant could have been forgiven for thinking his effort could have crossed the line but the referee was having none of it.

Fleetwood kept to the plan of attacking on the counter with McAleny seeing a curling effort smash into a blue shirt as he tried to emulate his spectacular strike at Oxford.

Maddison tested Neal once again with Madden asking a tame question of Jonathan Bond up the other end.

But Neal was centre stage once again as he showed his experience when dealing with a Steven Taylor header as Town struggled to defend the hosts set-pieces. Taylor's header flew goalwards but Neal comfortably tipped the ball onto his own cross bar to take out the sting before gobbling it up as it bounced back down.

As the half drew to a close Fleetwood managed to get on the ball and spray it around the Peterborough half, though as soon as they approached that final quarter of the Posh zone the moves continuously broke down.

That was until the whistle nearly blew as Madden showed his predatory instinct to sprint onto a Hunter knock-down from a Coyle cross but he bundled the ball over. He was clattered by Baldwin going for the ball and wheeled away shouting for a penalty but the referee, probably rightly waved away his claim,

But Neal's clean sheet was to be lost just seven minutes into the second half as Fleetwood failed to clear their lines and Marriott was the first to react as he pounced on a ball over the top and chipped the ball over Neal.

Sheridan's response to Marriott's 27th of the term was to make a change up top throwing Hiwula on for Madden hoping the forward can make an impact off the bench once again.

But it was the hosts who kept the pressure on as the woodwork saved Fleetwood for the third time in the game as Edwards' stinging effort was tipped onto the bar by Neal with the keeper manically wheeling round to mop up the rebound.

Steve Evans' side were not planning on sitting back on that one goal lead in their final home game of the campaign as Sheridan threw Biggins on for Sowerby to try and solve that continued lack of creativity in the middle third.

But it continued to be Peterborough though Sheridan shifted formation switching to a flat back four with Eastham moving over to right back and Coyle moving over to the left flank as Hunter was allowed a more free role on the wing.

And it was to be Hunter who was to be a thorn in Peterborough's side as he and McAleny linked up on that left flank.

He sent McAleny down the channel and some magical footwork saw him dance past a number of blue shirts before rolling the ball back to Hunter who spotted the run of Hiwula at the back stick but his header was dealt with.

McAleny again showed his intelligence forcing Bond into a fine stop with Biggins also getting in on the act whipping the ball up towards Glendon at the back stick but the Posh keeper ensured Fleetwood were denied their license to thrill their travelling fans.

Leeds loanee Coyle nearly caught Bond napping as his cross towards Hiwula at the back stick flew towards the top corner but the shot-stopper was on-hand to tip the ball away. Fleetwood retained possession though as Hiwula chased the loose ball and he sprayed it back to Dempsey who forced Bond into another save.

But that resurgence was soon quelled by the Posh as substitute Danny Lloyd whipped in a cross from the left that was sublimely swept past Neal by Cooper in the 77th minute.

That did not dampen Fleetwood's spirits and they pushed on for a goal with Hiwula rifling the ball the wrong side of the right post.

Hunter was Fleetwood's live wire as he blasted a first time effort just wide of Bond's goal with Coyle also clipping the cross bar with a sweet curling strike from distance.

But that goal never came and despite their possession Fleetwood were left frustrated and there is now a clear need of what has to be done in the summer.

Hunter, McAleny and on-loan Huddersfield man Hiwula showed they have sparks in attack but they need to be released more. If Town are to compete with teams in the top half like Peterborough next term then they need a lot more invention in the middle of the park.

But perhaps there was a bit of a lack of risk from Town in the game and now there is a lot of work to be done in the summer if Fleetwood wish to be challenging.

Peterborough: Bond, Shephard, Hughes, Baldwin, Edwards, Maddison (Lloyd, 74), Marriot (Kanu, 90), Da Silva Lopes, Taylor, Cooper (Ward, 85), Grant. Subs not used: Tyler, Forrester, Doughty, Anderson.

Fleetwood: Neal, Coyle, Eastham, Pond, Bolger, Hunter, Sowerby (Biggins, 60) Glendon, Dempsey, Madden (Hiwula, 54), McAleny (Grant, 78). Subs not used: Cairns, Hiwula, Grant, Diagouraga, Jones, Biggins, Sheron.

Referee: G Horwood.