MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 2 Walsall 1
eetwood's fine victory over Walsall was overshadowed by the sight of star midfielder Kyle Dempsey being stretchered off at Highbury.
The game was coming to a close with Town 2-1 up thanks to a fine solo goal by Ash Hunter and a fierce Bobby Grant effort when Dempsey was tackled by Matt Preston.
Dempsey never got up from the challenge and had to be covered with blankets as he left the field on a stretcher and was shipped off straight to hospital after sustaining what is believed to be a deep gash to his leg.
Rolser made one change to the side that drew 0-0 at Shrewsbury in the FA Cup last weekend with Hunter coming in for Devante Cole.
Both sides had two early penalty claims in an electric start at a cold Highbury.
David Ball appeared to have been impeded in the box and up the other end Walsall appealed for a spot-kick after the ball crashed into Nathan Pond’s arm but it was a case of ball to hand rather than hand ball.
Fleetwood had a good chance as Hunter’s ball across the six-yard box was met by McLaughlin but Neil Etheridge just did enough to stop it trickling over.
Up the other end Amari’i Bell cleared O’Connor’s header off the line with Town keeper Alex Cairns collecting the rebound.
McLaughlin was booked for a cynical foul as he cropped Edwards to stop a dangerous Walsall counter-attack from a Town corner with centre halves Bolger and Pond still in the opposition half.
Fleetwood nearly took the lead in the 20th minute from a set-piece straight off the training ground. Glendon slid the ball to Bell on the edge of the box and his screaming effort thundered towards goal but was just kept out by the diving Etheridge.
George Glendon’s corner found Bolger in the pack but he nodded the ball off target
But after an electric 20 minute end-to-end start the first half fizzled into a battle of attrition.
Hunter stole the show just before half-time as he robbed a Walsall player deep in their half before weaving his way towards goal and sweetly curling the ball home.
Fleetwood started the second half on the front foot with Ball wriggling his way into the box but his neat chip was just nodded away by a blue shirt at the back stick.
Ball was in the action moments later as Hunter’s neat ball found him in acres of space in the box but his effort was just tipped away by Etheridge.
Town eventually doubled their lead in the 66th minute as Hunter’s curling effort was tipped away from the corner by a diving Etheridge but only into the path of Grant who blasted the ball home.
But out of nowhere Walsall got back into the game as Dobbs’ 25-yard effort fizzed past a crowd of bodies and into the net.
Good defensive work by Dempsey to stop a Walsall counter from a Town corner as he turned the tables to feed Grant who just lifted the ball over the bar.
Rosler sent on the fresh legs of Cole and Chris Long as Town looked to keep hold of their lead.
And Long should have made it 3-1 as he found himself one-on-one but could only fire straight at Etheridge.
The game ended on a sour note with Dempsey having to be stretchered off after a tackle from Preston. The tackle saw Dempsey receive treatment on the pitch and he was taken to hospital after the game after sustaining what is believed to be a deep gash to his leg.
Fleetwood: Cairns, McLaughlin, Davis, Pond, Bolger, Bell, Dempsey (Nirennold, 90), Glendon, Grant, Ball (Long, 80), Hunter (Cole, 80). Subs: Neal, Jonsson, Nirennold, Sowerby, Ekpolo.
Walsall: Etheridge, McCarthy, Preston, Toner (Jackson, 69), O’Connor, Laird, Chambers, Dobson, Edwards (Makiras, 89), Bakayoko, Oztumer. Subs: Cuvelier, Macgillivaray, Osbourne, Kinsella, Moussa.
Referee: R Lewis