MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 2 Rotherham 0
Fleetwood Town's old number 10 David Ball witnessed the birth of a new Highbury hero as his replacement Conor McAleny made the perfect start by sinking Rotherham.
It wasn’t a case of the Rotherham forward passing on the baton more a case of McAleny ripping it out of his grasp and making his own statement - he is here to score goals.
The look of displeasure after he was hauled off four minutes after his second said it all - I wanted a hat-trick.
If Town can keep the forward fit and as hungry as he was when he popped up with that brace against Rotherham then the future is certainly bright, and so to is the table as Town ended the opening day at the top of the league table.
Many were concerned about the exit of Ball but the hit-man had a quiet game on his return to the Fylde coast as his old team mates Nathan Pond, Cian Bolger and Ash Eastham kept him at bay.
The stage was set for a goal-den return for Ball but it was the man who has taken his shirt who stole the show and the headlines to fire Rosler’s men up to the top and send a statement to the rest of the league.
It was a quick-fire opening with both side’s charging on the counter so it was no surprise that both Rotherham and Fleetwood had the ball in the back of the net.
Jordy Hiwula drilled the ball home but was ruled offside after sprinting one-on-one with Richard O’Donnell with Rotherham soon following suit as Will Vaulks’s strike was squeezed under Cairns by Lee Frecklington but the Millers skipper was also flagged offside in the 13th minute.
And Town struck three minutes later. Dempsey intelligently whipped the ball over to Grant on the right flank, he pulled the ball back for McAleny who got ahead of his man at the near post to fire home.
The game settled down after the goal but Town should have taken a 2-0 lead in the 37th minute. This time the flag stayed down as Hiwula latched on to Bolger’s powerful header, he beat O’Donnell one-on-one but was thwarted by the woodwork as his low effort clattered into the right stick .
Town nearly doubled their lead just before the half-time whistle as McAleny fizzed the ball in towards Grant but he skied his first time effort over the bar.
After strong words from Warne at the break Rotherham started the second half strongly as they searched for a leveller but Town always looked a threat on the counter.
Rotherham pumped bodies forward but lacked bite and a cutting edge in the final third with former Town hit-man Ball tamely hoofing a trademark curler down Cairns’ throat.
It took a piece of individual brilliance from McAleny to seal the win as after an effort was just diverted away by the Millers he struck from the subsequent corner.
Bell threw the ball to the forward and he picked it up before dancing towards the corner of the box, spinning and fizzing the ball into the net.
That goal knocked the stuffing out of Rotherham as Town’s defence remained rock solid and last term’s clean sheet king Alex Cairns continued where he left off.
Fleetwood: Cairns, Bolger, Pond, Eastham, Coyle, Glendon (O’Neill, 67), Dempsey, Bell, Grant, Hiwula (Hunter, 86), McAleny (Cole, 71). Subs not used: Neal, Burns, Rodgers, Schwabl.
Rotherham: O’Donnell, Emmanuel, Mattock, Vaulks, Ajayi, Forde (Newell, 70), Frecklington, Proctor, Ball (Moore, 67), Taylor (Williams, 83), Ihiekwe. Subs not used: Bilboe, Potter, Purrington, Yates.
Referee: R Lewis.