MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 1 Hereford 1
Maybe this game was just the tonic Town need to wake them up.
A failure to beat a team 89 places below them at the first time of asking at home and one win in nine in the league simply is not good enough.Despite their young years this bunch are immensely talented and should, on paper, have steamrollered the Bulls, rediscovered their shooting boots and sent a message back to the rest of the division that Town are not a one-season wonder.The silver lining is that Fleetwood are still in the hat but in a festive fixture jam a clash at Edgar Street is another game they could do without. Fleetwood boss Uwe Rosler made four changes from last time out in the 0-0 Blackpool derby day draw.Alex Cairns was rested with Chris Neal given the nod for his first game since the Checkatrade Trophy win at Carlisle last month and England Under-17s World Cup winning keeper Billy Crellin got his spot on the bench.Lewie Coyle recovered from a hand injury to start at right wing-back as Town returned to the 3-4-3 formation that saw them bypass Rotherham United 2-0 on the opening day of the season.That return of Coyle allowed them to do so with Wes Burns pushed up to the right of a front three with Ash Hunter replacing Jordy Hiwula alongside Burns and Cole.Baily Cargill also came in for Cian Bolger who joined Jack Sowerby on the bench.Hunter popped up with Fleetwood’s first chance as he latched on to Coyle’s ball in from the right but his first time effort cannoned back off a Hereford shirt to safety.Fleetwood were dominant but the Southern Premier Division side showed they had not just made the trip to the Fylde coast to roll over and let Town sail through.Kenyon Reffell outfoxed Bournemouth loanee Baily Cargill on the right flank, though his fizzing ball into the mix was poked wide eventually by Garyn Preen.Burns should have done better as he nodded Hunter’s fine ball over from the left way over the bar and Hunter skimmed a shot wide as Town’s third tier pedigree saw them open up the visitors, though their finishing was more Sunday League at times.They’d been on an early Christmas bash to Dublin after the Blackpool derby last term and it seemed some Town men had not shaken off the hangover as they toiled against the opposition.Hereford’s Murphy curled an effort way wide and Town did not head their warnings as they found themselves on the cusp of a cup upset.Cargill had struggled and it was his failure to clear Town’s lines that eventually led to the ball dropping for Calvin Dinsley to curl the ball past Neal.It was serendipitous for Dinsley, who only half an hour before kick-off was not even in the starting line-up as Rob Purdie’s late injury saw him get the nod.He certainly took his chance grabbing the spotlight with a fine strike in the 23rd minute.Town’s danger man Kyle Dempsey nearly single-handedly dragged his side back into the tie as he dribbled towards goal but his effort in the six-yard box was stopped by Horsell with the Hereford fans behind the sticks cheering their appreciation.It looked like things could be going from bad to worse as Preen’s deflected effort from distance looked to be dropping over Neal and into the net but fortunately it crashed into the netting with the subsequent corner also playing on Town’s Achilles heel of coping with crosses into the box, although they just survived.That sparked Town into life though whether Cole knew anything about his 10th of the campaign is up for debate.Dempsey was influential again, slicing through Hereford’s middle before feeding Burns on the right wing.He had linked up well with Coyle all game and it was the Leeds loanee who whipped in a cross that went in off Cole’s chest in the 29th minute.But Town somehow clung on to keep it on level terms at the break as Ash Eastham twice managed to thwart John Mills’ double effort after Billy Murphy’s set-piece had posed major questions of Town once again.There no doubt was a strongly worded team talk from Rosler at the break but the action did not improve.Burns was Town’s main threat as he tore up the right wing but once again Town just could not find that finishing touch in the final third to convert his good play on the wings.Dempsey had a tussle in the middle with Dinsley with the latter falling to the floor and suggesting foul play off the ball but it did not appear that the Town man had done anything to warrant that reaction.Hereford’s O’Shea let fly from 25 yards but his effort did not trouble Neal with Town forced into a change.Amari’i Bell failed to shake off a knock from a strong tackle on the flank and made way for Hiwula with Coyle switching to left wing-back and Burns moving deeper on the right.That did not stop Burns from continuing his attacking prowess as a ball flashed agonisingly across the face of goal and missed the runs of Cole and Dempsey.Despite the changes and fielding three strikers there only looked like there would be one winner at Highbury and that was not the League One side though despite bombing forward in their numbers the non-league side could not find a way past Neal.Hunter could have broken the non-league club’s hearts, only to hit the post late on.
Fleetwood: Neal, Eastham, Pond (Bolger, 90), Cargill, Coyle, Dempsey, Glendon, (O'Neill, 72) Bell (Hiwula 62), Burns, Cole, Hunter. Subs: Crellin, Maguire, Schwabl, Sowerby.
Hereford: Horsell, Oates, O'Shea, Dinsley (Haysham, 87), Green, Deaman, Preen, Murphy, Mills, Reffell, Smith (Symons, 76). Subs not used: Harris, Page, Preston, Franklin, Bird.