MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 2 Bristol Rovers 0

How apt that the Shez-urection at Fleetwood Town was completed on Easter Monday as John Sheridan orchestrated another victory to slay 10-man Bristol Rovers 2-0.

Monday, 2nd April 2018, 4:01 pm
Updated Monday, 2nd April 2018, 7:16 pm
John Sheridan

John Sheridan has staged another Houdinin act at Fleetwood with his side unbeaten in the seven games of his reign as they made it four wins in a row and picked up their fifth clean sheet on the spin to move on to 51 points.

That figure all but guarantees Town their League One status as Sheridan engineered another great escape as he builds on his exploits at Oldham and Plymouth here at Highbury.

The sending off of Bristol's Chris Lines for two needless yellow cards was the catalyst.

Lines seeing red when referee Ross Joyce failed to award a set-piece to his team but after being booked for back chatting in the 55th minute he kept nagging away with Joyce claiming the midfielder swore at him leading to second just two minutes later.

That paved the way for substitute Bobby Grant to tee-up Ash Hunter for a sublime 78th minute finish with fellow sub Jordy Hiwula completing the job with a minute to spare as Sheridan steers Town up the table.

Fleetwood boss Sheridan named an unchanged team for the fourth time in a row for this Easter Monday clash.

Fleetwood carved out the first chance of the game as McAleny was released by Sowerby in the box but he curled the ball way wide but it was a fairly open start with Rovers testing Town as Kyle Bennett lofted the ball over Cairns' bar.

Sheridan has given Fleetwood more attacking freedom and that forward thinking showed in the early stages, Diagouraga picked up the loose ball in the middle and expertly found McAleny in the pocket between the defence and the midfield, he lofted the ball over to strike partner Madden and his chip was just tipped over by ex-Blackpool man Sam Slocombe.

Fleetwood sensed blood but Slocombe was up to the challenge as Hunter responded to the shouts of 'hit the target' from boss Sheridan to fizz a set-piece from just outside the box towards the bottom corner but the Rovers keeper was on hand to pull off a fine diving stop.

But despite Fleetwood's dominance Bristol were still a threat on the counter as just seconds after Hunter had curled an effort way wide as Byron Moore sent a similar chance sailing over Cairns' bar.

Bristol continued to ask questions as the half drew to a close but Fleetwood, who had Bolger bandaged up after a clash of heads earlier in the game, contained the visitors to a handful of wayward efforts from distance.

Harrison tested Cairns with a spinning strike but the shot-stopper was up to the task with Lines fizzing the ball through Pond's legs but way wide as the visitors got their eye in.

Clarke got a step nearer as his long range effort was just tipped away by Cairns with Pond screaming at McAleny for what he felt was some poor defending from the front.

Both sides played some pretty football in the half but both failed to find that clinical touch in goal though it was evident how confident Town have become under Sheridan as they pushed to get forward in search of another vital three points.

It was a bright start by Fleetwood at the start of the second half but they just could not quite execute that final pass.

Town had managed to ask questions of the visitors but failed to find a way through with Coyle eventually getting the ball out from the right flank to Sowerby who made a first time sweep that Jonny Wilkinson would have been proud of as he whipped the ball on to the top of the Memorial Stand.

Once again though it was an even affair with wing back Coyle too easily outfoxed by Lee Brown who whipped the ball up towards Telford who agonisingly missed that final touch with the goal at his mercy.

But then Rovers were dismissed to 10-men as Lines was shown two quick yellows for disputing referee Ross Joyce's decisions.

The Bristol man was livid by Joyce's refusal to award a set-piece after Ellis Harrison and Cian Bolger tangled in Town's half and received a yellow for his protestations in the 55th minute but just two minutes later, even after Joyce had told skipper Tom Lockyer to calm his man down Lines still persisted with his complaints and Joyce sent him for an early bath.

That red card galvanised Fleetwood and they pushed bodies forward with a golden opportunity to get three points now on the table.

But Bristol defended in their numbers though a Coyle right wing cross was nodded just wide with McAleny and missed the trailing boot of Madden at the back stick.

Sheridan freshened up his forward line sending on Hiwula for McAleny with Madden nodding a Coyle cross from the right towards the bottom corner though Slocombe was on hand once again to collect the tame effort.

It was a case for the midfield for Town with Dempsy, Diagouraga and Sowerby instrumental in picking up second balls and initiating attacks though they still could not find that crucial touch to break down Rovers.

Sheridan threw another attack minded player in Bobbyb Grant on for the tiring Sowerby as the clock ticked down for Town to score.

Dempsey's strike was tipped towards the unmarked Coyle on the right of the box but the full back was caught in two minds as his cross/shot fizzed past the left stick and just missed the run of Madden.

But his opposite number Hunter showed him how it is done as he pounced on the loose ball on the edge of the box and effortlessly swept the ball past Slocombe with a sublime first time effort in the 78th minute.

But it was not all Town as the woodwork saved Fleetwood as Harrison's rasping effort from distance clattered back off the bar and just missed the run of an oncoming Bristol man.

That chance made Fleetwood wary and they went on the hunt for a second to put the game to bed with Dempsey wriggling his way into the box before stinging the palms of Slocombe.

And Fleetwood finished the game with another clean sheet as Sheridan continues to work miracles.

Fleetwood: Cairns, Eastham, Pond, Bolger, Coyle, Dempsey, Sowerby (Grant, 75), Diagouraga, Hunter, McAleny (Hiwula, 68), Madden (Burns, 84). Subs not used: Neal, Burns, Glendon, Jones, Biggins.

Bristol Rovers: Slocombe, Brown, Lockyer, Clarke, Harrison, Telford, Lines, Moore (Gaffney, 69), Partington (Sweeney, 30), Craig, Bennett. Subs: Smith, Sweeney, Mensah, Gaffney, Russe, Hargreaves.

Referee: R Joyce.

Attendance: 2890 (548)