MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 1 Southend 1
A piece of individual brilliance from David Ball clinched a point for Fleetwood against play-off rivals Southend.
The Shrimpers out-played Town in the middle of the park in the first half and it was a midfield mistake that lead to the visitors opening the scoring.
Bobby Grant’s pass to George Glendon missed the former City loanee and fell to the dangerous Marc-Antoine Fortune who rolled the ball back to Anthony Wordsworth to curl the ball sweetly into the bottom corner with a little help from the right post.
Fleetwood stayed in the game in the second half and with Uwe Rosler switching to an ultra attacking 4-2-4 formation Town finally leveled in the 90th minute with Ball curling the ball into the top corner.
The result sees Town stay fourth in the League One table as they made it 12 unbeaten in the league.
Uwe Rosler made three changes from the side that won 2-0 at Sheffield United for Fleetwood’s clash with Southend.
The German rotated his strikers once again with Ash Hunter and David Ball coming in for Devante Cole and Wes Burns with George Glendon replacing Markus Schwabl up front.
Ball had an early chance as he pounced on a loose ball and curled the ball straight at Smith.
Glendon deflected chip dropped just wide of the left stick and then he played the subsequent set-piece short to Bell who’s first time effort was stopped in the six-yard box and eventually cleared away from Town’s nibbling forwards.
Southend looked a threat and nearly opened the scoring from a well-worked set-piece straight off the training ground with Timlin sliding the ball to the lively Nouble in acres of space but his effort was batted away by Smith.
But it was one mistake by Town in the middle of the park that lead to the opening goal.
Bobby Grant tried to pass the ball to Glendon deep in his own half but ended up misjudging the position of the midfielder and the ball rolled to Fortune in space on the left. He sprinted towards the box and pulled the ball back to Wordsworth and his curling effort rolled in to the corner off the right post.
Town started brightly in the second half and had some slick passing moves but only started to threaten as the clock with Ball whipping the ball over to the unmarked McLaughlin at the back stick but he nodded the ball straight at Smith.
When the timer did pass 60 Rosler threw Burns on for Glendon and switched up his 3-5-2 formation to a 3-4-3 with McLaughlin and Bell pushing up from wing-backs to wide midfield roles with Dempsey and Grant moving into central midfield roles and Burns joining Hunter and Ball up top.
Fortune’s low angled shot was just tipped away by Cairns but Phil Brown’s men looked to be settling for 1-0 as they sat back and allowed Fleetwood time on the ball.
With the end of the game nearing Rosler sent Cole on for Bell and shifted to a new 4-2-4 formation.
Fleetwood started surging forward more with Cole and Hunter enjoying space on both flanks. And they created two big chances through the duo. Firstly Hunter was released by McLaughlin on the right and he fizzed the ball across the six-yard box but a blue shirt poked it out of play before Cole could sweep home. Cole got in on the opposite wing after a neat ball by Ball but Cole’s cross in was diverted over the bar by Burns.
But Town’s mentality was strong as they stayed in the game and finally got their rewards with Schwabl floating a free-kick into the mix and Ball popping up on the edge of the box to curl the loose ball home.
And boosted by the leveler Rosler’s men kept Southend on the ropes.
Burns, Dempsey and Cole went close in the six minutes of added time and it looked like it would be a perfect end for Bolger against his old club as he rose high to meet Ball’s curling corner but his header just got a nick off a Southend player and out for a corner.
Fleetwood: Cairns, McLaughlin, Eastham, Bolger, Davies, Bell (Cole, 76), Dempsey, Glendon (Burns, 61), Grant (Schwabl, 69), Ball, Hunter. Subs not used: Davis, Nirennold, Maguire.
Southend: Smith, Coker, Wordsworth, Thompson, Timlin (Hines, 78), Cox (O’Neill, 88), Atkinson, Fortune (Nouble, 82), Leonard, Demetriou, White. Subs not used: Matsuzaka, Bexon, Amos, Hines, Bridge.
Referee: Eddie Ilderton.