MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood Town 0 Rochdale 2
Is there a point to the Checkatrade Trophy?
Kind of. If we rip up the regulations and shift the focus to what this competition should be about: the promotion of youth at every level.
While there was not the drama of the Leicester Under-23s clash in the first group game, this chance to introduce Fleetwood and Rochdale’s youth to real men’s football is just as important as giving a bunch of Premier League kids the chance to do the same.
A forgettable game, a 2-0 defeat with mistakes in abundance but it did the job.
It gave youngsters a chance and gave vital minutes to those who need them .
What really matters is backing up Saturday’s three points at Doncaster with another result against Shrewsbury at Highbury this weekend.
The kids are all right and the first teamers finished with more minutes and match fitness.
Though you feel that if we are to see the true benefit of this competition the rules need to be ripped up.
Joey Barton should be able to see how his youngsters adapt with no restrictions on how many can play.
Fleetwood handed a debut to Dan Mooney and got Ged Garner and Ryan Rydel on the pitch with fellow youngsters Harrison Biggins, Eddie Clarke, Billy Crellin and Nathan Sheron
They will have learned from this game but clubs like Fleetwood and Rochdale should be given more allowance to blood their youth.
Let’s make this a competition to be proud of and rip up the regulations.
Barton made 10 changes from the side that beat Doncaster 4-0 on Saturday, Sheron the only survivor from that win.
It was a big chance for Kyle Dempsey, Jason Holt, Chris Long, Wes Burns, Biggins and Clarke to force their way into contention for Saturday’s clash with Shrewsbury, though you felt only Burns pushed his cause for a return on a lacklustre night for Fleetwood.
There was a first start of the season for England Under-20s keeper Billy Crellin but it was Rochdale’s youngsters who shone brighter.
As another new-look Town defence settled in, the visitors should have taken a healthy lead into the break.
Dale asked questions but could not capitalise on a poor clearance from Town’s young keeper Crellin as Jordan Williams latched on to the ball in the Fleetwood box, but Sheron was on hand to rescue Town.
Sam Hart had the first real attempt for Dale as he fired a set-piece wide.
But it was Williams who opened the scoring, a slick one-two with Matt Done slicing through Fleetwood, his strike bobbling past the diving Crellin in the 16th minute.
Burns nearly created an instant reply but his good work on the right could not be finished by Mooney, who just failed to connect.
Williams again asked question but his angled effort flew wide of the left stick.
Rochdale were on top but could not increase their lead. Williams failed to punish Town once again, sweeping the ball over the bar.
Fleetwood found their feet as the half wore on, Mooney firing wide from an angle on the left with Burns the brightest spark.
The Town winger stung the palms of Brendan Moore from distance but then needed medical attention after an aerial collision.
Town should have levelled just before the break as keeper Moore passed the ball straight to Long, but the Town man’s effort cleared off the line by Kgosi Ntlhe.
Barton made a change at the break, managing Craig Morgan’s recovery from a hamstring injury by sending Ash Eastham on.
But Town’s hopes of a fightback were dented just three minutes after the restart, when Holt was caught in possession on the edge of his own box and Andrew Cannon doubled the lead.
Mooney’s intelligent cross from the right found Eastham at the back stick but the centre-half nodded off target.
Rochdale’s Zach Clough swept a set-piece wide and Joe Rafferty fired way over.
Fleetwood: Crellin, Clarke, Holt, Burns (Rydel, 75), Dempsey, Long, Jones, Morgan (Eastham, 46), Biggins, Sheron, Mooney (Garner, 58). Subs: Jones, Madden, Hunter, Holgate.
Rochdale: Moore, Ntlhe, McGahey, Dooley, Williams, Done, Hart (Clough, 55), Adshead, Cannon, Morley, Matheson. Subs: Lillis, Rafferty, Williams, Rathbom