MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 1 Queen of the South 0
The Cod Army were treated to a Paolo Di Canio-esque goal at Poolfoot Farm as new boy Lewie Coyle took a leaf out of the skilful Italian's book to fire Fleetwood to a 1-0 win over Queen of the South.
It was a very encouraging and promising start to pre-season for Uwe Rosler’s men as two separate Town XI’s dominated both halves against a strong Queen of the South side.
Coyle only joined the club on a season long loan deal from Leeds earlier this week but was like a duck to water as he seamlessly slotted into Town’s side and netted the winner on debut in the 62nd minute with a fine first-time finish after latching on to his fellow wing-back Joe Maguire’s centre from the left.
Coyle excelled in the now Millwall player Conor McLaughlin’s departed right wing-back role as head coach Uwe Rosler strayed away from last term’s 3-5-2 formation to a new 3-4-3 take on the wing-back style.
It was not all one way traffic though with Town first team coach Barry Nicholson’s home town club having their own chances on goal as they aimed to end their pre-season on a high.
It was the Scottish Championship side who had the first sight of goal with Derek Iyle curling the ball over the bar after Jack Sowerby - playing in a new central midfield role - lost possession.
The visitors hit the woodwork but Town’s patience and dominance of the ball finally told as they started to push forward.
Hunter was partnering Wes Burns and striker-turned-midfielder and now turned attacker again Bobby Grant in a front three and he had the first Town effort as his deflected shot flew into Alan Martin’s arms.
Town looked a threat on corners and Cian Bolger nearly broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute but he was thwarted by a blue shirt on the line after George Glendon had whipped in an inch perfect corner from the left.
Grant was finding space on the right as he attempted to cut in with his left foot and his acrobatic effort from another Glendon corner was just stopped flying into the bottom corner by a blue shirt.
It was all Fleetwood and after his strike partners had tried their luck it was Wes Burns’ turn as he raced down the left flank and danced past a number of blue shirts before cutting inside and rattling the ball straight down Martin’s throat.
It was a promising start by Town but there are still some creaks that need ironing out over the next few weeks and the rustiness showed just before the half hour mark as Connor Murray managed to get in behind the gaps of a new back three partnership of Harvey Rodgers, Cian Bolger and Nathan Sheron but his first time chip dropped over the wrong side of the bar.
Glendon smashed a set-piece straight into the wall after Sowerby was chopped down just outside the box but Bolger had to be alert up the other end moments later as last term’s player of the season managed to get his body in the way of Andy Stirling’s fierce effort.
It was another wing-back Amari’i Bell who went closest to opening the scoring two minutes before the break.
Clearly unphased by summer speculation linking him to joining his fellow wing-back McLaughlin in the second tier the left-footer unleashed a powerful first time strike that clattered into the underside of the cross bar - one Rosler claimed was the best strike from the defender since the German had been at the club.
Former Town player Stephen Dobbie nearly made the difference as the half-time whistle neared as he whipped in a peach of a cross towards the back stick but the blue shirt could only waste a golden opportunity and nod a free header wide of Alex Cairns’ left stick.
Town bounced back from that near miss with an attack of their own as the half closed with Victor Nirennold’s angled effort from the right just missing Burns’ toe by a whisker at the back stick.
It is Rosler’s first pre-season at Town and he made wholesale changes at the break sending on a fresh 11 ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Austria.
Town continued to dominate but it was the Scots who had the early chances as Dobbie pounced on a clearance by ex-team mate Nathan Pond and curled the ball round the right stick and Stirling tried the spectacular moments later as he tried to catch Town’s home-grown 17-year-old shot-stopper Billy Crellin unaware but the looping effort flew over the bar.
Town thought they had a penalty moments later after danger man Coyle was impeded by John Rankin but the referee ruled it was just outside of the right of the box and Joe Maguire smashed the subsequent set-piece into a crowd of blue shirts.
Fleetwood smelt blood and went for the jugular moments later with Maguire providing the killer cross for Coyle to blast home in style.
As the half wore on gaps appeared for Town’s fresher legs with Queen of the South making limited changes and this allowed new striker Conor McAleny more freedom and space to give the Cod Army a taster of what he could do this season.
Development squad signing Michael Donohue slid inMcAleny on the left but his effort was stopped by the advancing Martin.
Donohue saw an effort of his own easily collected by Martin but Queen of the South were not dead and buried, esepcially after the introduction of the lively Jesse Akubine off the bench as he won a set-piece that saw Dobbie nearly level.
But the former Town man’s curling set-piece just squeezed past the woodwork and his squeal of anger after watching the ball glide past the wrong side of the post showed his frustration.
Dempsey carried on where he left off last season as the midfield dynamo put in another eye catching performance this time in a central midfield role alongside Markus Schwabl.
It was Dempsey’s ingenuity that lead to another chance for McAleny as he cut through Queen of the South’s middle with a fine pass but the forward rocketed the ball past the left stick.
In the end it was just a 1-0 win but despite some creaks it was a solid and pleasant passing performance as Town shook off their flip-flops to get back to normality after 60 days out of action with Austria now round the corner.
Fleetwood first half: Cairns, Rodgers, Bolger, Sheron, Nirennold, Glendon, Sowerby, Bell, Grant, Burns, Hunter.
Fleetwood second half: Crellin, Godswill, Pond, Eastham, Coyle, Dempsey, Schwabl, Maguire, Cole, Donohue (Reid, 80), McAleny.