MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 2 Northampton 0

Fleetwood Town's players paid tribute to club legend Ted Lowery by picking up a vital three points over relegation rivals Northampton.

Saturday, 24th March 2018, 6:26 pm
Updated Saturday, 24th March 2018, 6:30 pm
Goalscorers Dempsey and Bolger
Goalscorers Dempsey and Bolger

Town's Vice President passed away on Friday after a short illness but the players ensured they honoured his memory with a vital three points.

Kyle Dempsey's first goal of the campaign was a vital one as he gave Fleetwood the lead in the 18th minute as Cian Bolger popped up from a set-piece late on to help them climb five points above Northampton and most importantly the drop zone.

It was a much needed three points at Highbury and Fleetwood's first since they beat Oxford 2-0 back in October as new boss John Sheridan made it five unbeaten.

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The secret to his success has been built from the back with Fleetwood picking up their third clean sheet in a row as Sheridan stuck with the same XI and 3-5-2 formation that saw them beat Rochdale 2-0 in midweek.

Before kick-off club chairman Andy Pilley and skipper Nathan Pond laid a wreath in memory of vice president Ted Lowery who passed away aged 87 on Friday.

There was also be a minute's silence before kick-off that was impeccably observed by both sets of fans as the whole club pays tribute to Lowery.

It was a bright start by Fleetwood in the blazing sunshine with McAleny seeing a deflected effort trickle to safety and Madden rattling the side netting with a blistering strike.

But despite their early dominance it was way too easy for Northampton to get their first strike away as they cut through Town's middle like a hot knife through butter though fortunately Boris Mathis' strike was straight down Cairns' throat.

Northampton starting to slice easily through Town's middle but under Sheridan Fleetwood's midfield trio have been given more of a license to attack and it was some forward thinking from Diagouraga and Dempsey that saw Town take the lead.

Fleetwood should have made it two on the half hour mark, a clever Sowerby set-piece found Eastham in acres of space but he nodded the ball way over the bar.

It looked as though Fleetwood were enjoying their football with the schakles off but as they attempted to play the gaps at the back were still evident and the Cobblers wasted a huge chance to level just before the break.

Hildeberto Pereira whipped the ball to Van Veen who had managed to lose his marker in the box but he blasted a first time effort straight over the bar, much to the frustration of his boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink as Sheridan called for 'simplicity' from his team.

Fleetwood went into the break ahead at home for the first time since that Bradford defeat in January.

But the Cobblers came out fighting at the start of the second 45 as Hassselbaink withdrew Mathis for Luckassen.

And he nearly made an immediate impact as Van Veen flashed the ball across Fleetwood's open goal but despite his name fortune did not favour Luckassen as he just failed to connect.

Northampton's attacking impetus played into Fleetwood's hands though, with the old Uwe Rosler slick, potent, counter-attacking play still at the forefront of this side's DNA.

But it was Northampton who nearly levelled, a corner into the mix met the head of Ash Taylor but his effort was blocked on the line by a red and white shirt as Town stood firm.

The Cobblers had noted that Town's Achilles Heel this term has been set-pieces, though that had been shored up in Sheridan's previous four games. But they wasted opportunities to undo the hosts with Luckassen tamely nodding wide after rising above the pack.

It was all Northampton but Fleetwood woke up around the hour mark with Madden's delightful ball up to McAleny just ushered out for a corner.

Though Fleetwood once again were left ruing the referee as he waved away a clear penalty shout from the subsequent set-piece, Town played it along the grass to Bolger and his first time effort appeared to have been handled by Taylor but Lewis failed to spot it.

The ball eventually flew to Dempsey on the left and his strike screamed past the post with an Ash Hunter header from a Coyle cross sandwiched inbetween another Dempsey effort from distance as he rocketed the ball into a Northampton player.

Sheridan made a change in the 66th minute, with Bobby Grant's arrival welcomed with delight by the Cod Army though a few eyebrows were raised when the versatile attacker was sent on for McAleny in a forward role rather than the midfield spot he held under previous boss Rosler.

Grant has an eye for goal and made an attacking impact as soon as he entered the fray with one of his corners from the left punched away from goal by O'Donnell.

But once again the Cobblers pushed forward in search of an equaliser and after a rare slip-up from Eastham they nearly stole in but fortunatley this back three allows Fleetwood to have more bodies at the back with Bolger on hand to thwart the danger at the top of the box.

Fleetwood had weathered that Northampton storm and as the visitors tired Fleetwood roared on galvanised by the arrival of Grant.

And it was from a situation that has floored them time and time again this term that saw Fleetwood put the game to bed. Just seconds after substitute Hiwula had seen his back post effort from a Sowerby corner somehow tipped away by Cobblers keeper O'Donnell Fleetwood took the lead.

Northampton failed to head that warning with a Grant corner from the opposite flank eventually thundered home by Bolger as he pounced on some woeful defending to score a rare effort with his feet.

And that was the game boxed off though Sheridan especially was pleased to see his defenders still putting their bodies on the line to ensure Fleetwood made it three straight clean sheets on the spin.

Fleetwood: Cairns, Coyle, Eastham, Pond, Bolger, Hunter, Diagouraga, Sowerby, (Glendon, 88) Dempsey, McAleny (Grant, 66), Madden (Hiwula, 81). Subs not used: Neal, Hiwula, Burns, Jones, Biggins.

Northampton: O'Donnell, Moloney, Taylor, Mathis (Luckassen, 46), Van Veen (Long, 80), McWilliams (Ariyibi, 70), Facey, Pereira, Grimes, Turnbull, Bunney. Subs not used: Cornell, Barnett, Foley, Hoskins, Long.

Referee: R Lewis

We need to look forward and how we can get a win.

That is what we need to work on.

It is a very difficult (situation) but we have 21 points to play for and we need to get as many as possible of those points.