MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 0 Doncaster 0

Fleetwood Town's manager Uwe Rosler with assistant head coach Rob Kelly
Fleetwood Town's manager Uwe Rosler with assistant head coach Rob Kelly

Rewind a year and shot-stopper Alex Cairns was an unknown quantity as, after years in the shadows, he finally got the nod to make his first league start.

That 2-1 win over Chesterfield was just the start and, 12 months on, Cairns celebrated that anniversary with a starring role to thwart his home town club, Doncaster Rovers.

It was a double milestone for the 24-year-old as he also made his 50th EFL appearance for the club and pulled off two fine fingertip saves to stop Rovers’ striker John Marquis from breaking the deadlock.

It was a game to forget but despite Cairns’ show-stopping saves there was one name on the Cod Army’s lips as they poured out of Highbury; Wes Burns.

It is perhaps like history repeating itself, though Burns’ wait for action was not as epic as Cairns’ as the forward’s patience and desire is finally being rewarded with minutes, albeit in a role unfamiliar to the Highbury faithful.

The striker has been reborn as a right wing-back due to the suspension of Lewie Coyle.

The first half, especially, was all about Burns as he lit up the right wing, though as was the story of the game, Town just could not find that spark to bundle the ball home.

Though the form of Cairns and the comeback of Burns cannot paper over the fact that Town did look vulnerable on the counter and – yet again – set-pieces but the big worry is they are struggling to fire in the final third.

In a week where the BBC price of football survey revealed Town fans pay just £6.18 per goal, the next one seemed at times a million miles away as Town toiled and failed to break down Doncaster.

Though that was not for the lack of trying and credit must go to the visitors for a solid and sturdy display as Darren Ferguson’s men became the first side to stop from Fleetwood scoring at home in the league this season.

It was a familiar display from the showing at MK Dons the previous weekend when Town lost 1-0 and Uwe Rosler stuck with that same team.

He attributes the lack of goals in the last two games to his depleted strike force.

With both Bobby Grant (knee) and Conor McAleny (ankle) on the sidelines and Burns starting at right wing-back once again due to Coyle serving the second of his three match ban for his red card at Chorley, Town’s big strength has been somewhat dented.

With a game locked at 0-0 earlier in the season Rosler would have turned to his bench and finished the game with three strikers on the pitch.

And though young development squad forward Ashley Nadesan took his place on the bench after rifling in four for the development squad Rosler was unable to give him a shot because of an injury to midfielder George Glendon.

Normally Ash Hunter would have been able to enjoy more freedom to terrorise tired defences in the dying embers but, because of Town’s restrictions, that shift to a three could not occur.

It was man of the match Burns who stole the show on the right flank in the opening 20 minutes as Town targeted Doncaster’s Norwich loanee left wing-back Harry Toffolo.

Town just failed to get on the end of a number of the forward turned wing-back’s dangerous balls into the box but that did not stop his persistence.

The first big chance of the game was born from a Burns run as his low cross pinged back to the lively Kyle Dempsey, who, as ever, was at the forefront of Town’s engine room and surging forward but his deflected effort rolled straight to Ian Lawlor.

Fleetwood finally got on the end of one of Burns’ crosses but Cole’s looping header was again easily collected by the keeper.

Cole has been clinical at the start of this season but, after strolling through one-on-one with Lawlor, he could only send the ball wide of the right post.

The forward was also ruled to have been offside by the assistant referee after Aiden O’Neill cut through Doncaster’s back line and Hiwula slid him in.

However it turned out not to be the case as Hiwula’s ball had taken a deflection, though he would have been thankful for the flag.

The forward was nearly rewarded for his pressing as he latched on to an error by Lawlor though he could not punish the keeper and you could tell that it was just going to be one of those days for Fleetwood.

Although it was not all Town as the visitors still asked questions, especially with the scores locked at 0-0.

Jordan Houghton had a shot blocked by Cian Bolger and James Coppinger, who had caused chaos earlier in the half as he tried to exploit Town’s nerves on set-pieces with a dangerous corner that was just cleared, shot straight at Cairns just before the break.

It was Doncaster who had the first effort in the second half with Rodney Kongolo blasting the ball wide after Amari’i Bell had failed to deal with a right wing attack.

Fleetwood should have then taken the lead from one of Rosler’s classic counter-attacking moves.

Hiwula stormed out of his own half with Dempsey and Cole for company.

Hiwula raced towards the right with Cole drifting over to the left; Hiwula’s precision pass found his fellow Manchester City academy graduate but Lawlor was on hand to bat away his first effort and then gobble up the rebound with Dempsey looming.

There was a moment of panic for the Cod Army when Dempsey went down holding his right leg though fortunately he managed to shake off the knock and play on.

Town showed they are still susceptible to crosses despite the return to form of Bolger with Marquis glancing a header straight at Cairns.

Cairns then kept Town in the game with a fine fingertip save to tip Marquis’ effort over the bar.

A late Bolger tackle led to a ruckus in front of the dug-outs as his sliding challenge on Kongolo sparked anger from the visitors.

Their animated calls for a red card went unanswered by referee John Busby who brandished a yellow to the Town defender and to Mathieu Baudry for his protestations.

Rosler admitted he thought the defender had been lucky but that he had taken one for the team in stopping a potentially dangerous counter.

Fleetwood could be rocked by another injury blow as Glendon limped off and went straight down the tunnel.

Fleetwood: Cairns, Eastham, Bolger, Cargill, Burns, Dempsey, Glendon (Schwabl, 82), O’Neill (Sowerby, 62), Bell, Hiwula (Hunter, 67), Cole. Subs: Neal, Pond, Ekpolo, Nadesan.

Doncaster: Lawlor, Baudry, Butler, Kongolo, Marquis, Rowe, Wright, Houghton, Blair, Toffolo, Coppinger (Whiteman, 82). Subs not used: Marosi, Mason, Williams, Mandeville, Garratt, Ben Khemis.

Referee: J Busby