Fleetwood Town writer Rosie Swarbrick takes a look at the key talking points from the 4-2 defeat to Bolton as the mammoth unbeaten run juddered to a halt.
Despite the defeat Uwe Rosler’s Fleetwood side retained their grip on second spot in the table as Scunthorpe let a two goal lead slip to lose 3-2 at Gillingham.
The defeat sees Bolton move within a point of Town with a game in hand as Fleetwood enter the final 10 games of the campaign in an automatic promotion spot.
1) Fleetwood are not unbeatable.
After an 18 match unbeaten league run the Cod Army could be forgiven for thinking this side did not know how to lose but like they say all good things have to come to an end.
It was a fantastic, record breaking and entertaining run that was built from the back with Town picking up 10 clean sheets in those 18 games.
But Town’s normally rock-solid defence struggled with the height, physicality and set-piece ability of Bolton.
It is a wake up call and Fleetwood will have to lick their wounds quickly, learn from the defeat and bounce back at Walsall.
2) A rare bad day at the office on set-pieces
During the 18-game unbeaten run Town have been strong on set-pieces but they were schooled by a physical Bolton side.
Fleetwood were not up to their usual high standards on defending and marking on set-pieces with Conor McLaughlin out-muscled at the back stick by Wheater for the second Bolton goal and Victor Nirennold losing his man Beevers for the third.
Filipe Morais’ delivery for both goals was Championship quality as he accurately whipped the ball into the danger zone at the back stick but the concerning thing about both set-piece goals was that they were shots rather than headers with the ball allowed to drop at the back post.
Town won a number of set-pieces and mixed up a standard delivery in towards Bolger up with some short corner routines due to Bolton’s superior height but unlike Morais’ they were not executed to perfection.
Town probably will not encounter delivery up to the standard of Morais’ or the height of Bolton’s side in the final 10 games and everyone is allowed an off day every once in a while.
3) Possible striker blow but Grant shows his striking pedigree.
Fleetwood started the season with six strikers, by January it was four now Town only have two fully fit strikers in David Ball and Ash Hunter with Devante Cole joining Wes Burns in the treatment room.
Cole was an enforced substitution on Saturday as he went down holding his foot and limped off in the 43rd minute and it is not known how long or if it will put him out of action on Tuesday at Walsall with Rosler as guarded as ever about injuries in his post match press conference.
If it does rule him out it leaves Rosler short on options up front but as he showed on Saturday he still has more cards up his sleeve.
With no strikers left on the bench after Hunter’s earlier introduction Rosler sent Cameron Brannagan on in a midfield role and pushed Bobby Grant back up into a forward role.
Grant has played in a midfield role this season but showed his striking pedigree with a late consolation goal as he netted for the third consecutive match.
Brannagan too was deployed in a number 10 role for the 1-0 win at MK Dons so despite another possible forward blow there are options.
4) Selection surprise
It was a surprise to most in the press box to see Victor Nirennold’s name in the starting line-up given that his last league start prior to Saturday was in the 1-0 win at Shrewsbury at the start of January
Nirennold was chosen to play at right wing-back because of his height with Northern Ireland international Conor McLaughlin moved into a central midfield role.
Nirennold lost his man for Bolton’s third goal as Beevers raced on to Morais’ set-piece and he was brought off just five minutes into the second half.
Central midfielder George Glendon came on in his place with McLaughlin shifting back to right back and Town looked a lot more solid with that set-up.
5) Kyle Dempsey can chip in with goals.
Man-of-the-match Dempsey coped with the physicality of Bolton’s side well and finally scored his first goal for Town.
He scored 11 times for Carlisle in the 2014-15 season when he was deployed in a number 10 role but it was his first strike since he scored for parent club Huddersfield in a 4-2 defeat at Brentford in December 2015.
The Town loanee has impressed with his box-to-box performances throughout the season but finding an eye for goal too can only aid Town in their final 10 games.