MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 1 Blackburn 2

Fleetwood Town were cruelly denied a point as Richard Smallwood's late strike clinched all three points for Blackburn Rovers.

Saturday, 20th January 2018, 2:32 pm
Updated Sunday, 21st January 2018, 1:50 pm
Conor McAleny levels for Fleetwood

Fleetwood boss Uwe Rosler made six changes for today's clash with Blackburn Rovers.

Paddy Madden and Toumani Diagouraga were cup tied for the 2-0 FA Cup replay defeat at Premier League side Leicester in midweek and made their home debuts as they came in for Ash Hunter and George Glendon who moved to the bench.

Ash Eastham returned from injury to replace skipper Nathan Pond and Devante Cole, Wes Burns and Lewie Coyle all returned to the line-up.

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Lewie Coyle in action for Fleetwood

They came in for Conor McAleny, Jordy Hiwula and the departed Amari'i Bell.

Bell joined Blackburn Rovers on Friday night but did not join in time to feature for his new club on Saturday.

It was a lively start with both sides creating clear cut opportunities in the opening 10 minutes.

Jones had been shifted to the left-back role and the right footer made a nervous start, outfoxed by both Dack and Samuel. With Blackburn's midfield magician cutting Town open with a defence splitting pass but unfortunately Samuel, who sprinted clear could not match that quality blasting the ball into the side netting.

Fleetwood v Blackburn

With a new-look forward line Fleetwood posed a threat too with Madden's delicate chip sending Cole through but his first touch was too heavy and a golden opportunity was lost.

Rovers peppered Town's goal with Derrick William's nodding a Charlie Mulgrew set-piece onto the bar and Dack had the ball in the net but his header was chalked off for offside.

Fleetwood had survived the onslaught but they had not headed their warnings and it was Dack with another bit of brilliance to break the deadlock as he stole on to Graham's ball and rifled home from a tight angle on the left.

The visitors had huge shouts for a penalty as Jones tussled with Samuel in the box, the Blackburn forward claimed he was tripped but referee Woolmer waved away the claim.

Lewie Coyle in action for Fleetwood

Rovers have just snapped up Town's left-back Amari'i Bell and so knew Town would be weaker on their left without him and they targeted that flank throughout the first half.

And it could have gone from bad to worse as Bolger nearly sliced the ball into his own net after another probing ball in from the right.

But Town held on to keep it 1-0 at the break and Rosler made changes sending on McAleny for Cole and Glendon for Schwabl.

McAleny had an immediate impact with Town resurgent at the start of the second half, all of the front three combined to create a big chance for Madden but he was flagged offside with the goal at his mercy.

Fleetwood v Blackburn

Rovers threatened after Glendon lost the ball in his own half with Graham nearly doubling their lead. He was in on the left but his Neal got enough on the ball to help it onto the bar and it was to be a game changing moment.

Had Rovers taken a 2-0 lead there could have been no way back for Fleetwood but as that slice of luck played into their hand serendipity was to shine on Rosler's men up the other end too.

They say you make your own luck and Town's high-pressing, high energy approach certainly paid dividends as the fresh legs of McAleny latched on to a rare Mulgrew error as he pounced on a poor back pass, strolled past a static Raya and coolly fired in his first goal since the opening day.

This week Town were revealed as the super-sub kings and they added another goal off the bench to their tally and now with nine are still the divisons top scorers off the bench.

Burns nearly gave town the lead but he sliced a back post volley wide after a great ball into the mix from Glendon on the left.

Town kept the heat on Rovers with Coyle starting a sublime move with a lunging tackle to win the ball in his own half, feed Dempsey and then pick the ball back up on the right flank before whipping a peach of a cross into the path of Madden who just nodded the ball wide.

Bolger stormed out of defence towards the box and was felled by a blue and white shirt but Dempsey could only drill the subsequent set-piece straight down Raya's throat.

Glendon curled the ball wide of the left stick as Fleetwood were a team transformed in the second half and asked serious questions of a Blackburn side that looked worthy of their billing of promotion favourites in a classy first 45.

Though Fleetwood could not make their dominance pay and they paid the price in the dying embers as Smallwood picked up the ball on the edge of the box and curled the ball home in the 84th minute.

On reflection Fleetwood keeper Neal could have done better and that was perhaps the only dampener on what was a fine second half fight-back from Rosler's side.