VERDICT: Burton Albion 0 Fleetwood Town 1

Harry Souttar
Harry Souttar

I wrote in the Burton Albion programme that the top six now was too tough of an ask for Fleetwood Town...

But after this victory and on the evidence of the last month or so is it really?
Could Fleetwood Town be the team that shocks the division?
They certainly have found a formula to win.
Bar losing 2-1 to the best team in the division, Luton Town, the last four games have seen three 1-0 wins.
The scorelines have been the same but the contests completely different.
A toothless Charlton, a battling Bradford and now a Burton Albion side that just lacked the key ingredient Fleetwood Town have in abundance: firepower.
Though the forwards often hog the headlines, Town have kept three clean sheets out of four – and it is no surprise that all four games have featured Harry Souttar.
I’ve already waxed lyrical about him in previous reports but it is no coincidence that Fleetwood have racked up the clean sheets and barely given teams a sniff at goal since Souttar arrived at Highbury on loan from Stoke City.
At the Pirelli Stadium, he was straight out of the blocks and heading everything in sight.
The Cod Army have warmed to their new centre- half too and the chants of ‘Harry Souttar’ at the final whistle show that his no-nonsense, full-blooded approach has gone down well.
His heroic block at the end ensured Fleetwood Town took all three points.
Marcus Harness found space at the death, when Town defender Ash Eastham lost his man, but Souttar was determined to keep that clean sheet and popped up from nowhere to block, though Harness should have taken the chance early.
Harness and Lucas Akins probed Town’s left flank all day.
James Husband had a tough afternoon but the hosts could not find an end product, with Akins wasteful and keeper Alex Cairns and his defence determined to keep that blank slate.
Credit to Cairns. He was criticised for his error in the 2-1 defeat to Luton seven days earlier, but he showed that blip was a one-off with another commanding performance.
He did his talking on the pitch and a fingertip save from Akins in the second half showed that thankfully the blunder had not damaged his confidence.
The sign of a winner is that he has brushed it off.
But this was mainly a day to remember for Ashley Nadesan, whose first goal for the club brought the points back to Fleetwood.
The game was far from an epic for the neutral.
Town’s new 4-3-3 system subdued Burton, and although the Brewers asked questions on their right side the end product was lacking.
Fleetwood absorbed and stung on the counter. And it was a masterclass.
Nadesan was brought back into the starting line-up due to Ross Wallace’s two-match suspension, after picking up his 10th booking in the last game.
That saw Burns move to right-back and Lewie Coyle sit on the right of the middle three.
Both did themselves justice, with Coyle making vital interceptions, though he still has to work on his attacking mindset. Burns again impressed at full-back.
And Nadesan made his mark. Though guilty of not passing to Madden on the counter and taking too many touches in the first half, he made no mistake in the second.
Burns’ sublime crossfield ball from the right found Maddenand he whipped the ball in for Nadesan to divert home at the back stick in the 57th minute.
It was worth the wait for Nadesan. The 24-year-old arrived from non-league Horley Town in the summer of 2016 but had to wait for Joey Barton’s arrival to get his shot at first-team action.
With just one substitute appearance before this season, the forward has had to bide his time.
He returned last month after a second loan spell at Carlisle to battle it out for a role in the front three.
Since then he has been keeping Ash Hunter out of the starting line-up and he has now been rewarded for his hard work.
Hunter gave a reminder of his talents late in the game – a thunderous effort that nearly broke the bar saying, ‘Don’t forget about me’.
The Brewers fought back but again end product was lacking until the dying embers, when Souttar made the last of many heroic blocks.
The top six remains a long shot, but with a 46-goal attack and Souttar’s introduction to help Eastham and Cairns rack up the clean sheets their earlier form deserved, it seems Barton’s side is finally finding some consistency.
There are still questions in the middle of the park, but that back four and a front three that can call on Madden, Hunter, Evans and Nadesan with a goal to his name, the rest of the division will not want to face this side.
Now they just need to back it up against Gillingham.
Until their play-off hopes are mathematically dead, would you bet against this Fleetwood side upsetting the applecart?