Fleetwood Town 1 Rochdale 0: Back-to-back wins for Simon Grayson's players
It may come too late for them to make a charge for the League One play-offs but Fleetwood Town grafted to edge out bottom team Rochdale at Highbury.
They were aided by the unfortunate Dale captain Eoghan O’Connell, who turned in Wes Burns’ cross early in the second half for the deciding goal.
Rochdale came to Town having won just one of their previous 13 games, leaving them propping up the rest of the division.
Fleetwood had chances to stamp their authority on a game in which they enjoyed all the early possession.
Callum Connolly sent his first-minute header wide from Dan Batty’s corner, while Burns failed to take two identical opportunities.
Both came from crosses from the left flank, Burns handing Dale keeper Jay Lynch a simple save with his first and sending the second wide of the near post.
While Dale will have been pleased to see out the first 20 minutes without conceding, they offered little in attack.
Their cause wasn’t helped by a head injury to striker Matty Done, who was far from happy at being replaced after a clattering from James Hill.
Done’s replacement, Kwadwo Baah, had Rochdale’s best chance of the half but sliced it so far wide that right wing-back Ryan McLaughlin prevented it from going out of play.
He kept the ball alive to create a chance for Olly Rathbone to let fly, his shot beating Alex Cairns but not the gathering of defenders on the line.
In fact, the Cod Army’s best chance of the first half fell to their leading scorer, Callum Camps.
The former Dale man made the most of Burns’ cross coming to him at an awkward height, and though he managed to twist his body in the air, his acrobatic effort sailed beyond the post.
Fleetwood were given a huge boost seven minutes into the second half, however.
Janoi Donacien and Burns combined to send the latter racing down the right wing, and when he fired a low ball across the face of goal, O’Connell couldn’t react in time with the ball ricocheting off his shins and rolling into his own net.
The visitors almost hit back immediately through Conor Grant, who spotted an opportunity to catch the Fleetwood defence napping at a free-kick.
The most alert man on the field, though, was Cairns, who backtracked superbly to tip the ball over the bar.
While Town held just a one-goal lead, Dale remained in contention.
A shot into the side netting from Dale substitute Aaron Morley aside, there were few scares for Fleetwood in the closing stages.
Burns had the chance to seal Town’s victory with 10 minutes remaining when he pounced on McLaughlin’s wayward crossfield pass.
Though he couldn’t make the most of it, Simon Grayson’s men had done enough to secure the three points.
Fleetwood Town: Cairns, Donacien, Hill, Connolly, Andrew, Camps, Rossiter, Batty (Biggins 79), Burns (Saunders 90), Vassell (Garner 79), McKay (Rydel 90). Subs not used: Coleman, Duffy, Baggley.
Rochdale: Lynch, Osho, O’Connell, Roberts (Vale 69), McLaughlin, Shaughnessy (Morley 57), Rathbone, Grant (Dooley 57), Keohane, Beesley, Done (Baah 13). Subs not used: Bazunu, McNulty, McShane.
Referee: Robert Madley.
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