Fleetwood 1 Bradford 2: Five things we learned

Amari'i Bell
Amari'i Bell

Fleetwood Town writer Rosie Swarbrick takes a look at the key talking points from Fleetwood’s narrow 2-1 defeat to Bradford City.

The Achilles Heel hobbles on into 2018 but don’t let that overshadow the best half of football to date this term

Town’s struggles with defending set-pieces in the second half have been no secret. It cost Fleetwood time and time again in the first half of the season but back-to-back wins over Oldham and Bury looked to have seen Town’s frailties on corners ironed out but it was to be short lived. They might have handled the physicality of Oldham and Bury in the box superbly but it was a deep corner to the back stick that caused chaos. Wyke nodded McMahon’s corner from the left back into the danger zone and Shay McCartan was the quickest to react as he curled the ball home. One thing is for certain Town need to make an improvement on defending set-pieces one of their New Year resolutions because in this game of fine margins that corner was to be the difference. It was a sparkling first half from Town but that switch off on a set-piece and losing the ball from their own attacking short corner lead to Bradford’s leveller too. Two mistakes that could have gone unpunished by many in the division but when you face a team of Bradford’s quality you cannot give them opportunities like that if you want a result. That first half though should fill Town with confidence going forward. It was the best performance since they last faced Bradford and won 3-0 in September. That time they built on a first goal to strike twice more as Bradford pushed on and it looked like history would have repeat itself.

Of course it was not meant to be but the Cod Army should be filled with hope this 2018 after a return to the slick, fast-flowing, attacking football they are used to seeing - cut out the errors and Town can start looking up the table.

Transfer speculation doesn’t hinder Bell or Cole?

The transfer window opened today and rumours have started circling about the future of Town defender Bell and 12-goal forward Cole.

Rosler was full of praise for the duo in his post match press for their commitment to the cause and for not letting the speculation impact their performances.

Bell has struggled against Bradford’s Gillead in the past but after coping with a late onslaught in the first half he came back stronger in the second 45. Cole linked up well with Hiwula in the first half and was at the forefront of Town’s good counter play before Bradford’s leveller. Both may or may not be here by the end of January but I have to agree with Rosler that the speculation did not impact them, at least against Bradford.

Sowerby the striker?

Jack Sowerby got the nod to start in the midfield three ahead of Markus Schwabl and certainly made his mark. The midfielder’s finish in the 21st minute was as cool as a cucumber and one a striker would have been proud of. It is no surprise then that the kid from Squires Gate admitted his striking pedigree in his post match presser. The midfielder used to be a forward and that certainly explains with his potency in front of goal as he added another one to the scrap bag to accompany his efforts in the Checkatrade and the FA Cup goal against Chorley.

McAleny needs time to get back to his Rotherham best

Conor McAleny made his big return to the pitch in Town’s 2-0 win at Bury and made another cameo against Bradford. The appearance against Bury was just a run out really given the game was already put to bed but this 20 minute appearance was a different matter with Fleetwood needing substitutes McAleny and Burns to get Town back on level terms. The duo both certainly made an impact though the leveller never materialised. McAleny’s potency in front of goal was shown to the Cod Army in pre-season and with those two goals in the opening day 2-0 win over Rotherham. But since then his Town career has been hampered by an ankle injury. This is now his third comeback but he is certainly not showing any fear in regards to that ankle as he has put his body on the line and gone in for tackles with no hesitation, a sight you wish too see. His positioning, awareness and impact on the side is clear to see, the one thing he is lacking is sharpness, evident as he smashed an 83rd minute chance at the back stick way wide.

But, that will come back with time, the positive thing is his lack of fear and the fact that he is still getting in those positions and creating opportunities because mark my words a man that talented will not stay off the scoresheet for long.

Writing on the wall for loan duo?

For the third game in a row two of Town’s loan stars Aiden O’Neill and Baily Cargill did not feature in the match day squad. Neither are known to have an injury and with the January window now re-open it will be interesting to see whether they are still at Highbury come February 1....