Oldham 1 Fleetwood 0

Highbury Stadium
Highbury Stadium
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Danny Philliskirk gave Fleetwood Town a lesson in finishing as they were beaten 1-0 at Oldham Athletic.

Fleetwood started like an express train - wasting a game’s worth of chances in the opening five minutes.

Playing the ball around with confidence they troubled the Latics whose defence were static when Jimmy Ryan played a pinpoint pass for Antoni Sarcevic, whose volley flew over the angle.

Jamille Matt spearheaded the next attack, skipping past two Oldham men before teeing up Declan McManus, whose shot was deflected over.

Town piled on the pressure, Joel Coleman denying Stephen Jordan as Fleetwood pushed bodies forward for a set piece.

Then Matt broke free - one-on-one with Coleman he lost the battle of wits, choosing to pull the trigger too soon and blazing over the bar.

But Graham Alexander’s men couldn’t keep up the pressure, gradually falling back into the trap of playing percentage balls - too easy for the Latics back line to cut out.

Not that the hosts offered much in response - their first shot on target finding the net.

It was sloppy once again from Town, a hopeful punt from the back landing for Danny Philliskirk, Fleetwood’s back three split allowing the striker to charge down the middle and slot low across Chris Maxwell to score.

Town continued to carve out opportunities after the break, Bobby Grant with a weak effort at the back post after fine work by McLaughlin down the right.

Then Danny Andrew found himself in a position to volley two yards out - unable to get any power through his effort and beat Coleman.

At the other end Lee Croft could have made it two, Joe Mills swinging a ball from the left, the experienced midfielder somehow blasting over.

Town couldn’t maintain their attacking intensity as Oldham sat back to protect their lead - the introduction of Jamie Proctor, David Ball and Nathan Pond doing nothing to salvage the game.

Ball might have salvaged a point at the death, denied a penalty despite Joseph Mills’ clumsy challenge.

And there was worse for Fleetwood - Nathan Pond going down under a challenge on the edge of the box, smashing the ground in pain the skipper looked to have sustained a serious ankle injury.

It was a harsh ending to what had seemed a promising day for Fleetwood.

The performance should have yielded more, Town’s finishing still a cause for concern - the mounting pressure to perform in front of goal undoubtedly playing a major part in Town’s profligacy.

It’s a miserable repeating cycle boss Graham Alexander is desperate to break free from - something he knows onlya a goal can fix.

Fleetwood boss Graham Alexander amitted his side had been hamstrung by poor finishing.

“To be honest you could just re-run my interview from Tuesday night and save yourselves time,” he told reporters.

“It’s exactly the same.

“We’ve probably created even better chances today than we did the other night.

“But the goal we conceded is really poor - in any way I want to describe it.

“There’s no tactics, no masterplan - it’s a straight kick from the keeper, headed on by one centre forward and the other runs through and scores.

“It’s that simple, that poor.

“But we’ve created more chances before that to be in the lead and should have had a penalty at the end.”

He made it clear Town are snatching at their chances - still feeling a hangover from last season’s poor form in front of goal

“I wouldn’t say we’re making mistakes,” said Alexander.

“Mistakes are made mentally - the wrong decisions.

“We’re snatching at things, not concentrating enough when we do get the opportunities

.”The players are creating, they’re being in the positions that we ask them to be in.

“We just didn’t get the finishing touch you need.

“It is the hardest thing in football and why goalscorers get all the money.

“Unfortunately at the moment we have a slight problem with scoring but our play to create opportunities is good, our positions are good.

“We just need that one to go in.”