MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 2 Oldham 2

Fleetwood Town's Lewie Coyle
Fleetwood Town's Lewie Coyle

It was never in doubt really was it?

When Ash Hunter finally got that ball off Devante Cole and prepared to take the spot-kick that ensured Fleetwood maintained their unbeaten start to the term at Highbury not one of the Cods doubted were the ball would end up – the back of the net.

Oldham Athletic's goalkeeper Jack Ruddy collects the ball under pressure from Fleetwood Town's Cole

Oldham Athletic's goalkeeper Jack Ruddy collects the ball under pressure from Fleetwood Town's Cole

He admitted later that he was wracked with nerves as he strolled up to the spot, not that anyone could tell as he coolly stroked the ball down the middle.

One man who also knew what would happen if Hunter was given the chance to open his account was head coach Uwe Rosler who sent orders via Ash Eastham to give the ball to Hunter. Cole had won the penalty after he was felled by George Edmundson but after wasting two gilt-edged chances to give Town the lead either side of the break Rosler felt he’d had his opportunity and with murmurs in the crowd as an off-fire Cole picked up the ball it was up to Hunter to get his goal.

In a week or so that saw him nearly clinch a move up to the Championship and Sheffield United after netting four times in three games Cole was back in the side but his clinical touch was blunted. But he certainly should have at least hit the target and given Town a platform to build on.

Instead it was Oldham who almost made Town pay the price for those misses.

Ash Hunter scores from the spot

Ash Hunter scores from the spot

Rosler had made one change from Fleetwood’s last league game as Nathan Pond moved to the bench with Baily Cargill coming into the back three of the 3-4-3 formation as they aimed to get back to blank blueprint after conceding three in the defeat at Bristol Rovers.

It was a physical and bruising start for Fleetwood but the early fire from Oldham was soon quelled when George Edmundson was booked for foul on Cole.

It was an opening of limited chances but Town found themselves a goal behind in the 18th minute with a mix of poor marking and a sprinkle of quality from the Latics beating Cairns.

Bobby Grant lost the ball in his own half and Oldham worked the ball up the right flank to Eoin Doyle. The on-loan Preston North End forward had lured Cian Bolger out from the back and showed a flash of Championship quality to whip in an inch-perfect cross into the path of Craig Davies who found space to nod home unmarked.

But that goal woke Town up and they were level just six minutes later as they finally found a way to unlock the Latics defence after wasting a flurry of set-pieces. Town had tried a number of different variations before Dempsey finally hit the jackpot.

Kyle Dempsey’s set-piece from the right found Baily Cargill at the back post and his header back across goal found Ash Eastham who gobbled the ball up from close range.

After that the pendulum swung back in Town’s favour with Coyle enjoying some freedom to bomb forward on the right flank and it was a dangerous Coyle cross that was just diverted over by Edmundson with Jordy Hiwula ready to pounce.

It was the full-back at the forefront again as a Coyle effort from distance from the subsequent Dempsey corner flashed past the left post.

And Town should have entered the break ahead as Cole showed why there is still work to do if he wants that second tier move with some shoddy finishing.

Eastham surged forward from the back after a great team move saw the ball switched from left to right. His looping cross in fell inbetween the gap in the defence to the feet of Cole but the surprised forward’s iffy first touch saw him eventually skim the ball wide of the right stick.

Fleetwood started the second half strongly and Town should have taken the lead in the opening 10 minutes. O’Neill cut through a field of blue shirts like a hot knife through butter before sliding the ball to Cole in space in the box but once again he failed to hit the target one-on-one.

Town looked a danger and Dempsey went for goal from a corner and it nearly caught Ruddy out as he just batted the ball round his right post with Cargill nodding the subsequent set-piece again from the left onto the roof of the net.

But Town paid the price for not getting their goal as Oldham struck at the other end. Rosler’s men had looked shaky on set-pieces as they struggled with Oldham’s physicality and after they failed to clear their lines from a corner Kean Bryan popped up with a spectacular striker from outside the box to give the Latics the lead in the 56th minute.

The goal knocked the stuffing out of Fleetwood but Rosler made a change on the hour mark throwing Glendon on for Grant and moving from a 3-4-3 to a pure 3-5-2 wing-back formation.

As Town failed to test Ruddy Rosler threw on the lively Hunter and shuffled his pack once again changing formation to a 4-3-3 and adding Wes Burns into the mix.

Hunter was a menace and was determined to make his mark as he terrorised the Latics, who were unable to handle his electric pace.

Though it was the opposition who created the clearer chances with Anthony Gerrard, former Town forward Aaron Amadi-Holloway and Eoin Doyle all wasting chances to clinch the win.

It looked like Town were going to suffer back-to-back defeats but lady luck and perseverance told.

The never say die spirit battled on and as Cole tried to make inroads in the box a touch of defensive naivety from Edmundson gave Town a lifeline.

With a host of blue shirts back and Cole running towards the back line the Oldham defender needlessly tripped the Town man in stoppage time.

The stage was set for Hunter to get off the mark and he did not disappoint.

Fleetwood: Cairns, Eastham, Bolger, Cargill (Burns, 76), Coyle, Dempsey, O’Neill, Bell, Grant (Glendon, 60), Hiwula (Hunter, 66), Cole. Subs not used: Neal, Pond, Ekpolo, Schwabl.

Oldham: Ruddy, Gerrard, Gardner, Davies (Amadi-Holloway, 72), McLaughlin, Doyle, Edmundson, Clarke, Nepomuceno, Byrne, Bryan. Subs not used: Placide, Dummigan, Wilson, Banks, Menig, Obadeyi.

Referee: R Jones.