MATCH REPORT: Morecambe 1 Fleetwood 3
Joey Barton's unbeaten reign as Fleetwood Town boss continued with a 3-1 win over League Two side Morecambe.
It was the slowest start by Fleetwood this pre-season, the defence for the first time under this new Joey Barton era looking vulnerable and shaky when asked questions by League Two side Morecambe.
One thing Barton has been working on since he took the reins has been making a side that struggled to defend set-pieces and crosses into the box in last term's 14th-placed finish tough to break down.
But in a rare break from the current heatwave at the Globe Arena Town were not braced for Morecambe's strong start.
Town will need to tighten up when the new League One campaign kicks off against AFC Wimbledon next Saturday, as they were put on the back foot by Jim Bentley's League Two side in the opening exchanges.
Bentley's men smelt blood early doors as Barton gave Tommy Spurr the nod to partner skipper Craig Morgan in central defence with youngster Joe Maguire at left back and Lewie Coyle on the right.
Morecambe exploited some slack defending on a corner as Fleming found himself with time and space in the box, though his effort failed to test Town's new number one Cairns.
Though Barton's favoured 4-3-3 formation leads to chances for Town on the counter and with a front line packed with pace and goals they soon showed their teeth.
Two of that front three of Wes Burns, Ched Evans and Conor McAleny nearly gave Town an early lead. Central forward Evans had found space on the right and slipped the ball over to left winger McAleny. The rest was all McAleny, the forward dancing past a host of Shrimps players though the finish could not match the quality he had shown to carve out the chance, curling the ball wide of the right stick.
That attack woke Fleetwood up and they nearly took the lead in unorthodox fashion, Coyle whipped his cross in from the edge of the box up towards Roche and Evans. His ball was too close too Roche but also too hot for the Morecambe stopper to handle as he fumbled and gave Evans a sight of goal. Though the Sheffield United loanee was not as sharp as he was last time out at Tranmere, with Roche recovering and snuffing out the danger.
Fleetwood continued to have the stronger chances, Jack Sowerby stinging Roche's palms with a first time effort after bright work from Burns on the right wing.
Morecambe fought back and were left to rue the cat-like reflexes of Town keeper Cairns. Sheron, continuing in his new number four role, was caught out deep in his own half with the Shrimps taking advantage as Zak Mills' cross from the right caught them napping. It was Aaron Wildig who rose above the pack to nod the ball down towards the bottom right corner but Cairns scrambled across to tip the ball away.
And that scare reignited Fleetwood, they stormed up the other end of the pitch, the hosts failing to deal with a Grant cross and McAleny did the rest, sliding the ball home with the aid of a Morecambe boot in the 22nd minute.
That settled Town's nerves and Burns continued to impress on the right flank, testing Roche as the half progressed.
And the forward soon got his name on the scoresheet, though it was not his electric pace that did the damage but his aerial presences that gave Town a two goal cushion as he directed Grant's corner home three minutes before the break.
It was a slow start as Town stuck with the same XI, Morecambe once again putting the pressure on at the start of the half.
Thought this time history would not repeat itself as Town could not keep the Shrimps at bay.
Fleming pounced on the edge of the area and he became the first player this pre-season to beat Town keeper Cairns, his deflected effort making it 2-1 in the 53rd minute. Barton
Though despite conceding Fleetwood's heads did not drop, Grant seeing an effort deflected wide and Evans nodding the ball at Roche as Town looked to restore their two goal cushion.
The introduction of Dempsey initially on the left of midfield sparked Fleetwood's attack once more, Town looking a rejuvanated force once the midfielder and his new attacking ethos entered the fray.
Though it was Grant who put his case forward for a starting spot in that left midfield role come August 4, the Morecambe fans were not happy after the referee appeared to miss a foul on Alex Kenyon in the build up but Grant's strike was the best of the bunch, his first time effort giving Roche no chance to make it 3-1.
As pre-season friendlies go it was a bad tempered affair, a Kenyon challenge on Dempsey causing a heated exchange between most men in yellow and red on the pitch.
But the game came to an end with Morecambe finishing their pre-season campaign with defeat as Barton's unbeaten start rolls on.
Morecambe: Roche, Mills, Conlan, Kenyon, Old, Fleming, Oliver, Campbell, Ellison, Wildig, Oates. Subs: Oswell, Mandeville, Mendes-Gomes, Jagne, Halstead, Sinclair, Brownsword, Hedley, Cranston.
Fleetwood: Cairns, Coyle, Maguire, Sheron, Morgan, Spurr, Burns, Sowerby, Evans, McAleny, Grant. Subs: Irwin, Bolger, Jones, Clarke, Eastham, Madden, Holt, Biggins, Dempsey.