Five things we learned from Fleetwood’s 1-0 win at Walsall

Fleetwood Town's Cian Bolger is congratulated by Davies and Schwabl after scoring at Walsall
Fleetwood Town's Cian Bolger is congratulated by Davies and Schwabl after scoring at Walsall

Fleetwood Town writer Rosie Swarbrick takes a look at the key talking points from the 1-0 win at Walsall.

Town bounced back from a 4-2 defeat to promotion rivals Bolton with a fine 1-0 win at play-off chasing Walsall to maintain their grip on second-spot in the table.

1) If the Cod Army did not know it already Cian Bolger is as hard as nails as typified in another man-of-the-match performance at Walsall.

He might have been under the weather but it certainly did not show on the pitch as Bolger was once again colossal in both boxes.

After Town conceded four to Bolton on Saturday it was all eyes on the back three, wing-backs and keeper Alex Cairns to see how they would react.

The first 10 minutes was shaky but they all grew in confidence as the game wore on with Bolger heading everything in sight away as Walsall tried to find an answer to his sixth goal of the season.

2) Conor McLaughlin can compete with David Ball in the skill department.

It is not often you find a set of home fans applauding an opposition player for a piece of skill but the Walsall fans took time off scolding referee Trevor Kettle to show their appreciation for Conor McLaughlin’s skill.

The right wing-back knew he would not meet a cross-field ball with his head and instead back-heeled the ball over his own head before driving forward to help Town win a corner.

3) Godswill Ekpolo’s selection leaves the writing on the wall for Joe Davis

With central defenders Ash Eastham and skipper Nathan Pond out injured Rosler opted to play Godswill on the right of the back three and he did not look out of place.

There were a few tetchy moments which is only natural given his last league start was in the 2-1 defeat at Port Vale back in November but the ex-Barcelona youth product looked vastly improved from the lad we saw four months ago.

Though he still has a lot too learn Godswill was a lot calmer, focused and more organised than his previous outing for Town and a clean sheet against an in-form Walsall side will only boost his confidence.

But that move surely leaves the writing on the wall for Joe Davis.

The defender has already fallen behind Pond, Bolger, January loan signing Ben Davies and Eastham.

But with both Pond and Eastham injured it was Godswill who got the nod and took his chance with Davis’ 45 minute cameo in the 0-0 draw at Bury on Boxing Day now perhaps looking like his last bar another injury.

4) The injuries might be racking up but Fleetwood showed once again they have strength in depth and versatility.

As previously mentioned Godswill stepped up to make his first appearance in four months but it was up front that looked threadbare with the elevation of development squad signing Alex Reid to the first team squad.

Rosler had four strikers at the end of January but injuries to Wes Burns and Devante Cole has left just David Ball and Ash Hunter fully fit.

With Ball getting yet another energy sapping 90 minutes under his belt on Saturday he was moved to the bench so that he could be refreshed and refocused for the Wimbledon game with Hunter getting the nod along side Bobby Grant.

Grant has been reborn as a left sided midfielder this term but after pushing up in the latter stages of the Bolton game and scoring a late consolation he was chosen to lead the line with Hunter.

Hunter looked lively and hungry as the 10-goal forward looked to end his 12-game goal drought and Grant put in yet another good shift with Ball finding gaps after coming off the bench and trying to exploit a tiring Walsall side.

It shows the versatility of Town’s side that Grant can easily slot back into a forward role but they could do with Cole or Burns back sooner to add more proven league firepower to the attack in the final nine games.

5) Cameron Branngan’s dead ball delivery adds another element to Town’s attack

It is the first time the Cod Army has really had chance to see Brannagan’s set-piece ability given it was only the third league start for the on-loan Liverpool youngster.

The flight, positioning and execution of his set-pieces at Walsall is the best Town have produced all season.

He set up Bolger’s goal with a corner from the left and nearly orchestrated a second as his free-kick from the right whirled high towards Bolger at the back post with his header across goal diverted onto the woodwork by Godswill before Hunter’s rebound was cleared off the line.

His curling set-piece from outside the box just flashed wide of the left post and if Tuesday is anything to go by Brannagan’s dead ball ability has added another weapon to Town’s already strong attacking play.

And that can only be good news with nine games to go.