MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 1 Bradford 2
Fleetwood Town were the architects of their own downfall as they let a 1-0 lead slip to lose 2-1 to Bradford City.
Town were a team reborn in the opening 45 with a storming display that saw Jack Sowerby give them a 21st minute lead, it was a sparkling opening but they were to pay the price for not entering the break with more than a two goal lead.
Set-pieces were once again their undoing with Alex Gilliead levelling after Town lost possession from an attacking corner and then Shay McCartan swept home the winner in the 64th minute to clinch the points.
Fleetwood boss Uwe Rosler made two changes from the side that beat Bury 2-0 on Saturday.
He stuck with the 4-3-3 formation and refreshed the midfield and attack with Jordy Hiwula in for forward Wes Burns and Jack Sowerby replacing midfielder Schwabl.
It was an electric start by Town with Hunter carving out an early chance and Sowerby curling the ball over the bar as Town pushed forward in their numbers.
They created a third just six minutes into the game and it was the best of the lot as Cole fizzed the ball in from the left to Dempsey who drove forward before teeing-up former Bradford man Hiwula but his effort was tame as he curled it well wide of the right stick.
It was all Fleetwood with Dempsey also smashing an effort straight at the keeper though despite Town's dominance and some slick, passing football they could not get that all important breakthrough with Bradford on the ropes.
The quietness from the travelling Bantams in the opening 20 told its own story though McCall's men did have some joy on the right flank as Gilliead targeted Town's in demand left-back Bell.
And Fleetwood finally got the goal their start deserved as Hiwula tore through Bradford after picking the ball up on the half way line, he stormed forward and as they had done all half, the midfield also bombed up in support with Sowerby finding himself unmarked on the right. Hiwula had options galore and opted to fizz the ball into the path of the former Squires Gate man who marked his return to the starting line-up by coolly drilling the ball home in the 21st minute.
That goal woke the Bantams up with Dieng having their first effort of the game minutes later though it was ably dealt with by Neal.
Law flashed the ball across the face of goal as Bradford's Gilliead once again outfoxed Bell on the right flank.
The Bantams were growing in confidence with Taylor getting the better of Coyle to fizz the ball into Wyke though his first time effort was way off target at the near post.
But as the half drew to a close Town showed their attacking bite once again with Hunter steaming in on the right flank and thundering the ball in towards Hiwula and Cole though the Bradford keeper was alert and he batted it away.
The half was a late Christmas present for the Cod Army, the best 45 minutes at Highbury for some time, especially after the disappointing showings against Gillingham and Peterborough. New year but the same old Fleetwood of yesteryear with their crisp fast-flowing, counter-attacking football undoing the Bantams, the only blemish was that the scoreline was just 1-0 with McCall expected to send his lads out fired up.
As expected Bradford came out fighting with Shay McCartan firing the ball straight at Neal but as McCall's men pushed up in search of an equaliser it played into Fleetwood's hands as they looked to break on the counter.
Hunter blasted an effort wide of the right stick and then whipped in a delightful cross from the right that just missed the toe of Cole.
It was just nudged out of play by a Bradford man but Town were to be the architects of their own downfall from that subsequent set-piece as they lost possession with Glendon and Hunter messing up on a short corner routine and Bradford broke with Gilliead eventually blasting the ball past Neal in the 56th minute.
That goal gave Bradford the momentum and after Taylor had lofted the ball just over the ball the Bantams took the lead. Town had defended set-pieces resolutely in their last two games at Oldham and Bury but the Achilles heal that hampered the second half of 2017 continued to haunt them this New Year. Tony McMahon's corner from the right looped over to Wyke at the back stick and his knock-down fell to McCartan who calmly drilled the ball into the bottom corner in the 63rd minute.
Rosler responded by freshening up the forward line sending both Burns and McAleny on for Hunter and Hiwula with 20 minutes to go.
Town did their best to break Bradford down but McCall's men had put many bodies behind the ball though a big chance did come in the 83rd minute as the two substitutes linked up. Burns's strike from the edge of the error took a deflection and fell sweetly to McAleny at the back stick but he blasted the ball way wide of the right stick.
And the ball looked to drop sweetly to McAleny once again late on but it was not to be as Town slipped to third third successive league home defeat.
Fleetwood: Neal, Coyle, Bolger, Eastham, Bell, Dempsey, Glendon, Sowerby, Hunter (McAleny, 69), Hiwula (Burns, 69), Cole. Subs not used: Cairns, Pond, Maguire, Roidgers, Schwabl.
Bradford: Sattelmaier, Vincelot, Law, Dieng, Wyke, Taylor, McCartan (Field, 74), Gilliead, Hendrie, Knight-Percival, McMahon. Subs not used: Raeder, Thompson, Hanson, Devine, Gibson, Patrick.
Referee: A Haines.