Fleetwood Town 2 Doncaster Rovers 1: Joey Barton’s players return to winning ways at Highbury

Saturday, 1st February 2020, 4:30 pm
Fleetwood Town celebrate Ched Evans' goal

Joey Barton’s players fired themselves back into play-off contention as they ended a run of five consecutive draws at Highbury.

Town survived a couple of minor scares in the dying minutes but Rovers – who had won four of their previous six matches – were second-best on the day.

Barton had made three alterations to the side which drew in midweek against Coventry City.

Everton loanee Lewis Gibson stepped straight in for a full debut alongside Souttar and Callum Connolly in a three-man defence.

Further forward, Wes Burns and Josh Morris were both back, Paddy Madden was dropped to the bench, while Kyle Dempsey (back) and Harrison Biggins (cheek) were out altogether.

However, international clearance wasn’t received in time for Town’s two other deadline day captures – Barrie McKay and Isak Thorvaldsson – to feature.

Another blustery day at Highbury saw both sides struggle with the conditions in the early stages as passes went astray and hopeful balls forward drifted into touch.

It was the 13th minute before a chance was created as Danny Andrew’s pass was controlled by Evans, who turned and saw his effort blocked by Joe Wright.

Five minutes later, Town came close when Souttar’s header from Lewie Coyle’s cross was headed off the line by Tom Anderson.

Jack Sowerby’s 25-yarder was deflected just off target, and with the hosts on top, they needed to capitalise.

They did so in the 35th minute when Evans met Morris’ corner, and although his initial strike was saved by Seny Dieng, he lashed home the rebound to give Town a half-time lead.

A minute into the second half and they were on the attack again with Andrew’s acrobatic effort flying off target.

Souttar made no mistake three minutes later, poking home Town’s second goal after Rovers failed to clear Andrew’s free-kick.

Town looked good at that point but saw their lead halved on 55 minutes when Niall Ennis drilled home.

Ennis’ deflected strike went inches past the post midway through the half, though Madden went close to scoring a third for Town when he tested Dieng.

Two goals were sufficient, however, as Town picked up a welcome three points.

Fleetwood Town: Cairns, Coyle (Madden 71), Souttar, Gibson, Andrew, Whelan, Connolly, Sowerby, Burns, Evans (Saunders 90), Morris (Coutts 62). Subs not used: Crellin, Baggley, Hill, Garner.

Doncaster Rovers: Dieng, Halliday, Wright, Anderson, John, Whiteman, Sheaf (Coppinger 73), Taylor (Okenabirhie 81), Gomes, Sadlier (Cole 68), Ennis. Subs not used: Jones, James, Ramsey, Blair.

Referee: Ross Joyce.

Attendance: 3,008.