Fleetwood 2 Scunthorpe 3: Five things we learned

Ash Eastham is sent off
Ash Eastham is sent off

Fleetwood Town writer Rosie Swarbrick takes a look at the key talking points from the controversial 3-2 defeat to Scunthorpe.

The referee got it wrong

Now I'm not one to bash referees but for once at a football ground the boos that peppered the ears of Mark Heywood as he trudged off for a post match brew were thoroughly deserved.

They have one of the hardest jobs in the game but on Saturday Heywood got one of the key moments in the game wrong.

Scunthorpe were a goal to the good at the time after Josh Morris' back post effort and when Ivan Toney's header clattered into Ash Eastham's arm Heywood was called into action.

He pointed to the spot and awarded the penalty before later brandishing a straight red card at Eastham.

It served as a double dose of punishment for Fleetwood with Morris sliding home his second and Town forced to play the remainder of the game with 10-men.

Fleetwood boss Uwe Rosler revealed his intent to appeal the red and his post-match analysis was spot on.

Yes it was a penalty but there is no way it was a deliberate handball.

Eastham could simply not move his arm out of the way and given the close proximity to Toney it was a case of ball to hand not hand to ball.

Also having watched Toney several times over the past year or so I would not back that header to have been flying on target, replays suggest it would have missed.

Thus for me Heywood got it wrong and hopefully justice will be done and Eastham will be free to face Rochdale next weekend.

Oliver is one to watch

What that did pave the way for was a baptism of fire for Charlie Oliver.

He arrived on deadline day on-loan from Manchester City as a replacement for Accrington bound Harvey Rodgers.

And in just days of arriving at Highbury he did what Rodgers could not in his six month stint, feature for Town in the League.

Oliver was thrown in at the deep end and in what was his first ever football league game did more than just keep his head above the water but swam comfortably with the rest of Town's defence.

It was a steep learning curve for him and though he had to adapt to the physicality of League One he did so admirably.

He followed in the footsteps of George Glendon who had a similar start to life at Town and if that 50 minute cameo is anything to go by then like Glendon Oliver is certain to make a splash at Town after a calm and composed performance beyond his 20 years.

Fleetwood forward Conor McAleny was certainly not happy about being sacrificed for Oliver with a reaction to being substituted that was reminiscent of Bobby Grant in the 2015/16 season.

I personally like to see that fiery response, it shows passion and desire to play for Fleetwood Town but hopefully he has simmered down to do his talking on the pitch on Tuesday night at Yeovil.

No end to the home woes but still a performance to be proud of

When Fleetwood found themselves 10-men down to Southend back in the first half of the campaign after Aiden O'Neill's red card they wilted at the prospect of an uphill battle.

This time the injustice of Eastham's straight red rallied Town and they battled their way back to 2-2 thanks to goals from Ash Hunter and Grant.

That fighting spirit and battling mentality was great to witness for all of the Cod Army.

The wait for a home league win might now be over three months but all at Highbury witnessed a 10-men Town side that were willing to put their bodies on the line and shed every ounce of blood, sweat and tears to give their all for the cause.

It is just such a shame that the fine margins and one mistake from that famed Achilles Heel, set-pieces, was the undoing once again.

Twelve minutes on the clock and with the score locked at 2-2 Heywood made another controversial call, ruling that Toney had been fouled by Pond just outside the box, it was a soft set-piece to give and a softer goal to give away by Town.

Toney bullied former Town man Morris off set-piece duties and skimmed the ball past the head of Hunter and into the net. Could Hunter have done better? Replies suggest he could have stood firmer and perhaps blocked the effort with Chris Neal wrong-footed before seeing the ball fly home.

It was hard to stomach but through no lack of effort which despite Town's league position of four points off the drop, proves that this side will be in no trouble come May.

Town once again looked vulnerable, especially in the first half, from their own attacking set-pieces as Scunthorpe created numerous counter-attacking opportunities with the defence out of position.

It was clear that Town had been working on their attacking set-piece during the week and Kevin O'Connor's set-piece delivery was a delight to watch.

Though they really should have punished the Iron from one of their nine corners as that Achilles Heel on both defensive and attacking set-pieces continue to hinder Town's season.

Improved defending from the front will be key going forward

In this 4-3-3 formation Town's forwards are asked to do a lot.

Not only is their task to score the goals, press and lead the counter-attacks they are also asked to defend from the front.

For many, like Hunter, his mind is not a defensive one and the two goals prove just how intuitive and intelligent his attacking nature is.

He got Town back into the game with some great link play with Paddy Madden and then a rare left footed strike right into the corner.

He made Grant's second with a trademark probing right-wing sprint and fierce ball into the mix that Gilks could only parry to the Town attacker.

But despite his impact in the attacking half of the pitch he needs to improve in Town's half to ensure his hard work in the opposition third is rewarded with points and wins.

It is a similar case to Wes Burns at Gillingham last week, he impressed in attack but a defensive lapse lead to a penalty, however soft it was, at the Priestfield.

Town's young forwards need to learn from those mistakes and improve if they want to climb the table.

I remember interviewing PNE forward Joe Garner when he scored a hat-trick against Fleetwood in a 3-2 win. In his post-match press he was still livid at himself for his role in the defending of one of Town's goals. That was his focus rather than the three goals and it is a mentality that Fleetwood's youngsters should take on board if they want to achieve their goals.

Bobs is back!

You just cannot help but love Bobby Grant can you?

After ruling himself in contention for a start he had to settle for a spot on the bench but after George Glendon limped off with what looked like a hamstring injury the Town man seized his chance to return to the fray.

Grant added a renewed balance to the middle of the park and his attacking mindset allowed Dempsey and Diagouraga to sit back and play more defensive roles.

Grant's enthusiasm is infectious and he drove Fleetwood on in that second half.
His will to get into the box and finish off Hunter's parried cross sums the man up, he will do anything to win for Fleetwood.
He certainly enjoyed netting in front of his boo boys the Scunthorpe fans as he wheeled away to silence the away support before greeting his home faithful with a triumphant fist pump in the air.

Bobby is back and it seems just in time to help re-ignite Town's season.