Fleetwood Town 2 - 0 Forest Green Rovers
They say revenge is a dish best served cold, and that was the case for Fleetwood as they strengthened their position in the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off zone with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Forest Green Rovers.
Despite a flat first half, Junior Brown’s stunning strike and a Sean Clancy header in the second half gave Fleetwood the three points, and revenge for the 1-0 loss at The New Lawn three weeks ago.
Town made three changes from Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat at Kettering, with Jamie Milligan, Steve Connors and new signing Will Haining coming in for Clancy, Gareth Seddon and Sean Gregan.
Haining was signed on loan from Morecambe on Friday, after injuries to Gregan, Paul Linwood and Shaun Beeley left Town short in defence.
It was a quiet and tentative start, but the first chance fell to the visitors’ top scorer Reece Styche, who was played through by Kieron Forbes on 17 minutes, with Scott Davies going down well to save.
The home side’s response came just two minutes later, George Donnelly seeing his cross-shot crash against the bar – the fourth time the luckless striker had hit the bar in his six Fleetwood games.
The game began to open up just after the 20-minute mark, with Rovers’ Ross Dyer cutting in on the right, but his shot was well-saved by Davies.
Next it was Fleetwood’s turn to become frustrated as Donnelly again came close, as he flicked strike partner Magno Vieira’s cross just wide.
The home side began to stamp their authority on proceedings as they continued to press forward.
On the half-hour mark, Milligan did well to find some space outside the area, but his left-foot shot flew just wide.
Forest Green were restricted to speculative efforts in the first half, as Haining settled in well next to Steve McNulty.
However, this didn’t stop the visitors from threatening, as dangerman Styche again came close, his 25-yard strike flying just wide.
For the second half, Town boss Micky Mellon introduced Clancy and Seddon for Steven Connors and Donnelly.
The changes had an immediate effect, with Fleetwood testing the keeper twice inside the first two minutes.
However, Rovers keeper James Bittner was equal to both Anthony Barry and Clancy’s rasping drives. Next it was Seddon in the thick of the action, but his header was too close to Bittner.
A goal seemed inevitable for the home side, and it came in sensational fashion on 56 minutes.
Vieira had a shot cleared off the line for a corner. The flag-kick wasn’t properly cleared and the ball felt to Junior Brown 25 yards out, who steadied himself and unleashed an excellent strike which flew into the top corner.
It was the perfect way for Brown to open his Fleetwood scoring account, and was fully warranted for his man of the match performance.
Town continued to pepper the visitors’ goal in search of the killer second goal – Barry forcing the keeper into another save as he revelled in his role down the right.
Town appeared determined not to settle for an eighth league draw in the last 10 at Highbury and they pressed forward for a second, and Mellon brought on birthday boy Danny Rowe up front.
Fleetwood continued to pile on the pressure and were rewarded with a second goal 10 minutes from time.
Rowe was involved as he crashed a ball from 25 yards off the underside of the bar.
With the ball bouncing free in the area, Clancy was on hand to head home.
Replays suggest Rowe’s original effort had crossed the line, and his excellent second-half cameo deserved to be rewarded with a goal.
Rowe continued to impress as he headed a Milligan corner on, though keeper Bittner was equal to the effort.
The final chance fell to Rovers’ Reece Styche, but when he was put through by Steve Guinan his shot was expertly saved by Davies.
A job well done for Fleetwood, ahead of four away games, starting at Histon tomorrow.
Fleetwood: Davies, Connors (Seddon 46), McNulty, Hining, Brown, Barry, McGuire, Milligan, Cavanagh, Vieira (Rowe 75), Donnelly (Clancy 46). Subs not used: Hurst, Thorpe
Forest Green: Bittner, Hodgkiss, Jones, Hall, Armstrong, Dyer (Gray 81), Caines (Guinan 57), Turk, Forbes, Klukowski (Enver-Marum 69), Styche. Subs not used: Bartlett, Allen
Ref: B Khatib; Att: 1,335