MATCH REPORT: Fortuna Sittard 0 Fleetwood 0

Steven Pressley takes training in Holland as Conor McLaughlin links up with the team again
Steven Pressley takes training in Holland as Conor McLaughlin links up with the team again

Fleetwood started their tour of Holland with a hard fought and promising draw against Fortuna Sittard.

The game saw Conor McLaughlin return to action as he eased himself back into things following his summer at the European Championships with Northern Ireland.

it was the first of two games in 36 hours for the Cod Army and with that in mind manager Steven Pressley mixed-up his squad as well as giving many carrying slight knocks a rest.

Ash Hunter and Nick Haughton were rewarded with starting places after catching the eye with their all action second half performances as Salford, while Ricardo Kip started against a side who play in the league he left to join Fleetwood just two weeks ago.

Pressley named an experienced bench for the game, with Nathan Pond, Bobby Grant and David Ball all starting among the substitutes while striker Aaron Holloway and midfield man Jimmy Ryan both missed-out although could play in tomorrow’s clash with Dutch top-flight side AZ Alkmaar.

While Fortuna are the oldest team in Dutch football, beating giants Ajax by just a couple of months in 1954, the game wasn’t held their usual 15,000 seater stadium, instead it was the home of local side FC Ria which provided the home for tonight’s game, with a decent crowd enjoying the roasting weather.

Around 50 supporters made the trip from the Fylde coast to watch as Fleetwood used their new blue away kit for the first time.

And it was a confident start from Pressley’s men who had spent the week so far working on fitness.

It took 11 minutes for the first real attack of the game, with Akil Wright doing superbly down the right before his crossed proved just a hard to high for the onrushing Keano Deacon.

Moments later though, it was the home side who almost broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion when Okan Kurt tried his luck from inside his own half, only for keeper Chris Neal to save at full stretch.

As expected Fortuna were a strong side who liked to move the ball, and a lovely spell of possession ended on 20 minutes with giant striker Junior Torunarigha heading over from ten yards.

The pace of the game was resembling anything but a pre-season friendly, and on 23 minutes Fleetwood almost took the lead.

Nick Haughton found space 30 yards from goal and fired a superb effort goalwards, only for keeper Paul van der Helm to tip wide.

The home side thought they’d taken the lead just after the half-hour mark, when Roald van Hout turned in a cross at the near post, only for the linesman’s flag to be raised.

All week Pressley’s men have worked on shape and the way they defended as a unit in the opening stages was a prime example of that.

But it was a lovely bit of movement at the other end which almost gave Town the lead.

Ash Hunter raced onto a Cian Bolger pass before being denied by the keeper.

As half-time approached Fleetwood’s threat grew, and with a minute left a superb move down the right involving Kip and Haughton found Hunter in space to test the keeper yet again.

After a tight start to the second half a host of changes were made by Pressley, with McLaughlin, Bobby Grant and Thomas Grant, Nathan Pond and keeper Alex Cairns were all thrown into the action.

The changes gave a tiring side a real boost, with Bobby Grant and McLaughlin catching the eye.

And Grant was again involved as Fleetwood conjured up the game’s best chance with eight remaining, he found space before finding David Ball who cut the ball back into the path of Thomas Grant, sadly he couldn’t keep his effort down.

As the game drew to a close Fleetwood were denied what looked to be a clear penalty when appeared to be pulled back in the box as he tried to meet a Grant free-kick.

In the end Town had to settle for a draw, but it will be one which will no doubt delight boss Pressley.

Town showed plenty of promise.

Town: Neal, Wright, Bolger, Eastham, Sowerby, Kip, Jonsson, Nirennold, Deacon, Hunter, Haughton.

Subs: Cairns, McLaughlin, Pond, Davis, B. Grant, T.Grant, Ball.