MATCH REPORT: Peterborough United 1 Fleetwood Town 3

Josh Morris celebrates his goal with Conor McAleny and Danny Andrew
Josh Morris celebrates his goal with Conor McAleny and Danny Andrew
Share this article

New signings Harry Souttar, Josh Morris and Danny Andrew celebrated returning to Fleetwood Town by firing Joey Barton's side to a 3-1 win at Peterborough United.

Souttar's third minute header, Morris' delightful 13th minute chip and Andrew's set-piece sent Town soaring to an opening day victory and the top of the League One table.

Ivan Toney's 67th minute effort threatened to dent Town's quest to start on a high but Andrew marked his second Fleetwood debut with a sublime 81st minute set-piece as he followed in the footsteps of Souttar and Morris.

All three arrived at Town this summer after previous spells at the club and joined a number of other new signings in sending a statement to the rest of the division.

Though at 2pm a few eyebrows were raised as Fleetwood Town head coach Barton named his starting XI for the curtain raiser.

Josh Morris had been stretchered off in Town's final friendly of the summer against Preston North End.

The man who replaced him Ash Hunter went on to net the only goal of the game as Town ended their preparations with a 1-0 victory.

But with Morris recovering from that leg knock to train this week he was selected over Hunter.

And on his third debut for the club Morris would prove why he deserved that starting spot when he latched on to Harry Souttar's long ball to make it 2-0 in the 13th minute.

That was not the only big call that Barton made before the game and it was not to be the only right call.

Conor McAleny got the number nine role ahead of last term's top scorer Paddy Madden with Peter Clarke preffered at centre-half to Ash Eastham.

You could argue that Eastham, Madden and Hunter would walk into any League One team but Barton's big calls paid dividends as Town ended the first 45 minutes with two goals and a clean sheet.

The 4-3-3 system that caused Premier League side Burnley and Championship outfit PNE was the favoured choice for the opening day.

Clarke had impressed on trial in both of those friendlies leading to the ex-Oldham man celebrating his Thursday signing by getting the nod to partner Souttar at the back.

Leeds loan star Lewie Coyle was favoured at right-back as he made his third debut, Danny Andrew made his second Town bow at left-back.

There were no eyebrows raised about the midfield selections with Rangers loanee Jordan Rossiter making his first league start for Town in the holding role.

Former Posh star Paul Coutts made his Fleetwood debut just ahead of him on the right with Biggins building on a strong pre-season by starting on the left.

Barton had spoken in his pre-match press conference about how impressed he was by Burns' performances in a forward role against Burnley and PNE.

The Welshman was mainly utilised at right-back and wing-back in his 2018-19 player of the year season.

But he started this new season in his natural striking role on the right, McAleny in the centre and Morris on the left.

Town already had the hosts on the back foot as ex-Posh man Coutts flipped the teams around before kick-off.

The home faithful voiced their distaste at the change and Fleetwood would leave the stadium filled with more groans and moans just minutes later.

Barton recruited this summer with a view to improving set-pieces with Morris, Andrew, Coutts and Rossiter all enhancing Town's attacking dead ball ability

And it was Coutts who got the nod on corner duty as he whipped the ball in from the left and put the ball on a plate for Souttar.

Coutts' delivery flew over the pack of blue shirts to find the giant figure of Souttar at the back stick.

He only netted once in his loan spell at Town last year and arrived this summer determined to add more goals to his game.

His new season wish was fulfilled just three minutes in when he connected with that Coutts corner but the Stoke City man not only enhanced Town's defence but played another key role in a goal.

It was his 40-yard pass that released Morris to race in and beat Christie Pym.

Morris' chip was delightful and gave Town a two goal cushion just 13 minutes into the game.

Peterborough's strike force cost nearly £2m but Toney was off target as he found space for a header and Town's free central defensive pairing of loan star Souttar and Clarke kept the costly Posh attack at bay.

McAleny could have increased Town's lead just before Morris made it two and then Morris tested the palms of Pym after a neat through pass from Burns as Town continued to look a threat.

But the Posh did start to show their teeth as the half progressed despite Town's dominance.

Siriki Dembele outpaced Coyle in the box but Cairns was on hand to make a fine stop with his foot and ensure Town went into the second half with a clean sheet.

The home faithful were booed off at the break and after that hostile reaction came out fighting in the second half.

Town sat back but in doing so started to leave Darren Ferguson incensed on the sidelines as he accused Barton's men of time wasting.

Referee Lewis took note with Cairns and Coyle in the book for time wasting and taking a set-piece from the wrong position.

Town finished bottom of the fair play table with 103 yellow cards last season and started the opening campaign with six yellows.

But as Town allowed Peterborough to ask questions the hosts started to build pressure.

It was the introduction off the bench of Marcus Maddison that was to cause Town the most problems.

And he made a difference on set-pieces.

He whipped in a corner that Toney should have nodded on target but he would later make up for that tame effort.

George Boyd stung Cairns' palms from distance but then as the clock hit 67 minutes Toney got ahead of the pack at a free-kick to poke the ball past Cairns.

It looked to have set up a tense finish between two teams that Barton believes will be battling for promotion.

It showed though that Town are not yet the finished article as it was too easy for Toney to nip in unmarked.

Defensive improvements are needed but the way Town blunted any further sign of fight back showed they have learned lessons from last year.

Instead of crumbling after conceding Town would march on to victory though it was owed to Barton's substitutions.

He refreshed his forward pack by sending on Paddy Madden and Ash Hunter for McAleny and Morris and Town soon regained their momentum.

It was Hunter that helped dent the newly restored confidence in Peterborough's back line.

He forced Frankie Kent into an error and even though the Posh man prevented the forward sprinting through Hunter did not stop nibbling away at the opposition.

He was eventually felled by Joe Ward just outside the box but he lost the battle with Danny Andrew as to who would take the subsequent set-piece.

And Andrew showed exactly why he wanted to be on free-kick duties as he swept the ball past Pym with his left-foot and put the game to bed in the 81st minute.

The goal clinched the three points and saw Fleetwood climb to the top of the League One table.

Peterborough: Pym, Butler, Woodyard, Beevers, Kent, Eisa, Dembele, Toney, Boyd, Ward (Maddison, 59), Mason. Subs not used: Chapman, Naismith, Reed, Blake-Tracy, Tasdemir, Kanu.

Fleetwood: Cairns, Coyle, Clarke, Souttar, Andrew, Coutts (Sowerby, 84), Rossiter, Biggins, Burns, McAleny (Madden, 71), Morris (Hunter, 77). Subs not

used: Crellin, Eastham, Saunders, Rydel.