MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 0 Doncaster 0
Fleetwood keeper Alex Cairns thwarted his home-town club Doncaster as his vital saves secured a point against Doncaster Rovers.
Cairns, 24, celebrated the year anniversary of his first ever league start by making his 50th EFL appearance for the club and pulling off two fine fingertip saves to stop John Marquis’ breaking the deadlock.
It was a game to forget but despite Cairns’ show-stopping saves there will be one name on the Cod Army’s lips as they poured out of Highbury - Wes Burns.
The striker has been reborn as a right wing-back due to the suspension of first choice number two Lewie Coyle and the first half especially was all about Burns as he lit up the right wing, though as was the story of the game, Town just could not find that spark to bundle the ball home.
Fleetwood Town boss Uwe Rosler named an unchanged side from the team that lost 1-0 at MK Dons.
Striker Wes Burns started at right wing-back once again due to the suspension of Lewie Coyle who served the second of his three match ban after he saw red in the 2-1 FA Cup win at Chorley.
With Burns deployed in a defensive role and attackers Conor McAleny (ankle) and Bobby Grant (knee) still out Rosler rewarded young striker Ashley Nadesan with a spot on the bench after he fired in four in the development squad’s 7-0 win over Carlisle in midweek.
And it was man of the match Burns who stole the show on the right flank in the opening 20 minutes as Town targeted Doncaster’s Norwich loanee left wing-back Harry Toffolo.
Town just failed to get on the end of a number of the forward turned wing-back’s dangerous balls into the box but that did not stop his persistence.
The first big chance of the game was born from a Burns right wing run as he low cross pinged back to the lively Dempsey, who, as ever, was at the forefront of Town’s engine room and surging forward but his deflected effort rolled straight to Lawlor.
Fleetwood finally got on the end of one of Burns’ crosses but Cole’s looping header was again easily collected by Lawlor.
Cole’s blushes were spared by the offside flag as he strolled one-on-one with Lawlor and fizzed the ball wide of the right stick. The forward was ruled to have been offside by the assistant referee after O’Neill cut through Doncaster’s back line and Hiwula slid him in.
The forward was nearly rewarded for his pressing as he latched on to an error by Lawlor though he could not punish the keeper.
Although it was not all Town as the visitors still asked questions, especially with the scores locked at 0-0. Houghton had a shot blocked by Bolger and Coppinger, who had caused chaos earlier in the half as he tried to exploit Town’s nerves on set-pieces with a dangerous corner that was just cleared, shot straight at Cairns just before the break.
It was Doncaster who had the first effort in the second half with Rodney Kongolo blasting the ball wide after Amari’i Bell had failed to deal with a right wing attack.
Fleetwood should have taken the lead from one of Rosler’s classic counter-attacking moves. Hiwula stormed out of his own half with Dempsey and Cole for company. Hiwula raced towards the right with Cole drifting over to the left, Hiwula’s precision pass found his fellow Manchester City academy graduate but Lawlor was on hand to bat away his first effort and then gobble up the rebound with Dempsey looming.
There was a moment of panic for the Cod Army when Dempsey went down holding his right leg though fortunately Town’s key cog managed to shake off the knock and play on.
Town are still susceptible to crosses despite the return to form of rock Cian Bolger with Marquis glancing a header straight at Cairns as the keeper celebrated his 50th EFL appearance for Town with a clean sheet.
He had to work for it though against his home town club as he kept Town in the game with a fine fingertip save to tap Marquis’ effort over the bar.
A late Bolger tackle lead to a ruckus in front of the dug-outs as his sliding challenge on Kongolo sparked anger from the visitors but their animated calls for a red card went unanswered by Busby who brandished a yellow to the Town defender and to Mathieu Baudry for his protestations.
Rosler threw Jack Sowerby and Ash Hunter on as Town looked for a goal but neither side looked like breaking the deadlock in all honesty as the game drew to a close.
Fleetwood could be rocked by another injury blow as George Glendon limped off with Schwabl taking his place in midfield.
Bolger effort from outside the box that cannoned into a yellow and black shirt summed up their potency as they relied on Cairns to steal the show at the other end.
Marquis found space once again on the left but his angled effort was just tipped over by the Town keeper as Doncaster became the first side to stop Fleetwood scoring at their home fortress in the league.
Fleetwood: Cairns, Eastham, Bolger, Cargill, Burns, Dempsey, Glendon (Schwabl, 82), O’Neill (Sowerby, 62), Bell, Hiwula (Hunter, 67), Cole. Subs: Neal, Pond, Ekpolo, Nadesan.
Doncaster: Lawlor, Baudry, Butler, Kongolo, Marquis, Rowe, Wright, Houghton, Blair, Toffolo, Coppinger (Whiteman, 82). Subs not used: Marosi, Mason, Williams, Mandeville, Garratt, Ben Khemis.
Referee: J Busby