MATCH REPORT: Plymouth 1 Fleetwood 2

Uwe Rosler
Uwe Rosler
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He fired Fleetwood to the third tier in 2014 but, cruelly, of all the people in the Plymouth side to make an error in front of Town’s 139 travelling supporters, it was former hero Antoni Sarcevic who gifted Town the points on Saturday.

With the game goalless, his attempt to chest the ball down just outside his box failed spectacularly with Bobby Grant lurking on his shoulder.

It was a sublime piece of skill by Grant who pounced and then rolled an inch perfect pass between the Plymouth defence to send Jordy Hiwula through and the Huddersfield Town loanee showed his Premier League pedigree to whip the ball home.

Fleetwood should have had two penalties in the first half while, despite a plethora of dead ball situations, the hosts failed to make it count until the dying moments.

That was when Graham Carey’s peach of a ball from the right was flicked past Alex Cairns by Alex Fletcher.

That goal robbed Town of a clean sheet but thankfully not the points after Amari’i Bell had already wrapped those up with an injury-time finish Town head coach Uwe Rosler would have been proud of.

Rosler stuck with the same team that lost 3-1 to Charlton Athletic last time out in the league.

His faith paid off as Town bounced back and put in a solid and strong display reminiscent of the resolute, counter-attacking, pressing side that challenged for automatic promotion last term.

It was a strong first-half display as Rosler’s men utilised the width of Home Park to deploy their wing-wizards as he opted once again for the 3-5-2 formation.

And it worked to near devastating effect in the first 45 minutes with both Bell and Lewie Coyle enjoying time and space on the flanks.

It was from a slick piece of skill by Bell in the second minute that gave referee Craig Hicks a big decision to make as his cross appeared to be handled by Oscar Threlkeld.

The referee did not bat an eyelid and waved away Town’s claim in front of a big crowd at Home Park.

There was a hint of what was to come in the second half as Cian Bolger nearly released Hiwula one-on-one but he just could not keep the ball under control as Town tried to keep the home faithful quiet.

Fleetwood were dominant but Plymouth still showed flashes of danger with Gregg Wylde’s deflected effort flying wide from distance.

Coyle flashed an effort wide of the left upright and fizzed in two fine crosses after Fleetwood kept switching play across the wings and exploited the width of the pitch.

Town kept the pressure up and caused grumbles to ripple through homea crowd who have become accustomed to defeat in recent weeks.

Fleetwood should have taken the lead in the 33rd minute but some last-ditch, controversial defending, thwarted Hiwula.

The forward found a gap in the back line once again but he as he was pushed off the ball by Ryan Edwards he rode the challenge to get his shot away.

A foul had disrupted his connection with the ball, meaning his low drive feebly rolled towards the goalline with Edwards racing back to just hook it away.

It was an incident Rosler said deserved a penalty and a red card, though the referee did not see it that way and Plymouth survived.

There were fireworks off the pitch too after the incident with Rosler and his Plymouth counterpart, Derek Adams, understandably, having differing views of the situation.

After escaping unscathed the home faithful started to bang their drum and believe again with the noise levels rising as Town’s travelling supporters kept on cheering in the soaking rain, though their men entered the break at 0-0 after a fine first-half performance that deserved a goal.

Plymouth came out rejuvenated after the break, as the belief in the crowd seemed to seep back into Adams’ injury-hit side.

But Town’s defence stood strong through Argyle’s numerous set-pieces– 21 free-kicks and five corners in all – with Cairns on hand to stop a fine Carey strike.

Those set-pieces had been an Achilles heel in recent weeks but these 90 minutes were a case for the defence with each man knowing his job and dealing with everything.

Town’s deadliness on the counter-attack is renowned but it was their pressing play that did the damage once again with Sarcevic slipping up and Grant sending Hiwula on to open the scoring against the run of play.

Hiwula had another chance to put the game to bed as he latched on to Devante Cole’s pull-back but his first time effort just went over.

The hosts had more dangerous set-pieces to no avail with keeper Cairns nearly the architect of his own downfall as he slipped on the ball with Nathan Blissett looming; though his stumble on the sodden turf was minor and he got back up to claim the ball.

And as the game rolled to a close, Town broke with another devastating counter.

Wes Burns pulled the strings as the hosts had pushed players up in search for a leveller and Town found themselves with four men charging towards the box.

The striker slid the ball to Bell on the left, where he beat his man and fired the ball into the bottom corner; it was a striker’s finish and a deserved goal for the left-back.

It had been a solid and strong defensive display by Town but with a clean sheet just seconds away it was agonisingly snatched away by substitute Alex Fletcher.

Rosie Swarbrick
North West sport reporter for Johnston Press
Fleetwood Town writer for the Fleetwood Weekly News & Blackpool Gazette.

Chorley & Leyland sport reporter for the Lancashire Post, Chorley Guardian & Leyland Guardian.
Contact number: 01772838109
Follow me on Twitter @rosieswarb

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Fleetwood Town: Cairns, Bolger, Pond, Eastham, Coyle, Dempsey, Glendon (O’Neill, 55) Grant, Bell, Cole, Hiwula (Burns, 76). Subs not used: Neal, Hunter, Schwabl, Sowerby, Cargill.

Plymouth: Letheren, Sawyer, Songo'o, Edwards, Ness, Sarcevic (Fletcher, 83) Carey, Blissett, Jervis (Lameiras, 66) Threlkeld (Taylor-Sinclair, 46), Wylde. Subs not used: Ciftci, Grant, Fox, Cooper.