Struggling Swindon dented Fleetwood’s automatic promotion hopes with a 1-0 win at Highbury.
Fleetwood paid the price for missed opportunities as Swindon upped the ante in the final 30 minutes with the clinical Nicky Ajose stealing in to run one-on-one and grab all three points.
Uwe Rosler’s men have now not scored in their last three games having picked up goalless draws with AFC Wimbledon and Bury prior to today’s clash.
Fleetwood remain in third but the result saw Bradford climb level on 69 points after their 1-0 win over Walsall and Town are now seven points adrift of second-placed Bolton with six games to go.
Rosler made three changes to the side that drew 0-0 at Bury. With central midfielder Markus Schwabl injured George Glendon was recalled to the starting line-up with Conor McLaughlin returning from international duty to replace Godswill Ekpolo and Ash Hunter in for Cameron Brannagan as Rosler once again went for a 3-5-2 formation.
It was a strong start by Fleetwood but despite creating eight attempts in a half full of fast-flowing attacking football only one effort was actually on target.
Hunter was guilty of wasting Town’s best chances as he fired past either side of the post on numerous of occasions but Swindon did put up a fight and looked lively on the counter with Cairns forced into a good save to stop Conor Thomas’ strike from distance.
Hunter should have ended his three month goal drought just four minutes before the break when David Ball sent him through on goal but Hunter dragged the ball past the left post with the crowd waiting for the back of the net to ripple.
There was still time for another good Fleetwood chance as Ball was felled just outside the box with Glendon curling the subsequent set-piece towards the top corner but Lawrence Vigouroux was up to the challenge and just held onto the strike.
Fleetwood came straight out of the blocks in the second half with Swindon just surviving a goal mouth scramble as Bolger tried to divert the ball home despite being flat on his back.
The visitors had a huge shout for a penalty waved away by the referee as Jonathan Obika went down under pressure from Eastham in the box.
Grant blasted straight at Vigoroux from an angle and he collected easily from Ball after a great counter-attacking team move but despite Fleetwood’s dominance they still could not get that all important goal with Ajose a pest up the other end and causing Bolger problems.
Rosler switched things up in the 68th minute as he made a tactical substitution to put Joe Maguire on for Bell at left wing-back with Burns making his first appearance since the 0-0 draw with Rochdale in February as he returns from an ankle injury.
But it was Swindon who looked a threat as the clock ticked down with Fleetwood creaking at the back as Cairns fortunately spilled a shot to Davies rather than a blue shirt and Eastham was on hand to make a vital block as he got his body in the way of Thomas’ close range effort.
But Fleetwood did not head their warnings and relegation battling Swindon got their rewards as a ball over the top caused confusion between Eastham and Cairns with Ajose nipping in, out-pacing Eastham and rolling the ball past Cairns from a tight angle on the left after sprinting one-on-one.
Rosler threw Bolger up front for the final minutes as Fleetwood tried to rescue a point by pumping the ball up to the giant defender and playing off him but it was not to be and Fleetwood fell to just their second defeat in 23 games.
Fleetwood: Cairns, McLaughlin, Eastham, Bolger, Davies, Bell (Maguire, 68), Dempsey, Glendon, Grant, Hunter (Burns, 68), Ball (Brannagan, 78). Subs not used: Urwin, Pond, Nirennold, Woolford.
Swindon: Vigouroux, Thompson, Thomas, Obika, Goddard (Gladwin, 68), Ajose (Norris, 90), Colkett, Dabo, Ince, Conroy, Branco. Subs not used: Henry, Rodgers, Brophy, Iandolo, Starkey.
Referee: D Webb.
Attendance 3128. (323 away)