MATCH REPORT: Peterborough 1 Fleetwood Town 0
If the Cod Army wanted a reaction after a lacklustre performance against Portsmouth at the weekend he certainly got one.
The result may have not been forthcoming but this was a world away from that tepid display at Fratton Park against league leaders Pompey.Set pieces were again the downfall, with Rhys Bennett popping up to settle the game with a header in the 53rd minute.The same result at one of the top two but what a difference a couple of days can make.Peterborough were impressive with their attacking mentality, but were not content with 1-0 and went for the jugular.But in doing so left themselves open to waves of attacks from a Fleetwood side determined to get a result.The end-to-end nature of the second half is the sort of football you want to watch at League One level and while the secret to unlocking Town was a simple set-piece, Peterborough showed a flair that should see them maintain their chase of promotion long after this night.Fleetwood just need to find that end product they had in abundance in their start to the season.But there were more reasons to be cheerful.Lady luck shone on Fleetwood in the first half; Craig Morgan’s clearance on the right flank ricocheted off a Peterborough man and sent Ivan Toney clean through.But the forward was in an offside position and the flag was soon up to thwart his run.Barton had made three changes from the poor showing at Pompey with Nathan Sheron serving his suspension and Jason Holt and Paddy Madden moving out of the starting line-up.Ross Wallace was moved to left-back, Ched Evans back in a 4-2-3-1 and Kyle Dempsey handed a rare start. Wallace’s set-piece just missed the head of Morgan, who somehow missed the ball and failed to connect.A chance he should have gobbled up and given Fleetwood an early stranglehold of the game.It was the slick passing and waves of attacks we had seen in that first half against Shrewsbury, the problem just that final touch as Peteborough tried to blunt Ash Hunter and company.Shades of Town’s previous away form but they could not find that killer touch in the final third.Fleetwood’s possession in the first half angered patches of the home faithful with occasional rumblings of discontent.Siriki Dembele should have put the hosts ahead, the striker capitalising on confusion at the back and sprinting clear but he fired wide when he should have put the Posh on the front foot.Hunter curled the ball over from a short corner but Town were rocked by injury once again as the half drew to a close.Dean Marney could not make it to the break, Harrison Biggins on in his place.Rather than frustrating one of the early title contenders by parking the bus instead their passing play and work in the Posh half showed a side that could mix it with the top of the table.They limited their opposition to chances but showed that one-touch football and bravery to play and ask questions that was lacking at Pompey.But the downfall of Fleetwood was simple once again.Just like at Portsmouth it was a standard set-piece, andwhile Fleetwood tried the fanciful and short corners, it was the basics that saw them undone.A perfectly weighted corner in from the right by Louis Reed was met with a thunderous header by Bennett.Simple and effective, the goal galvanised the home side; Toney, inspired, attempted a lob over Alex Cairns that the keeper just kept hold of. Wes Burns got through on the right and whipped the ball back to Evans but his shot was blockedPeterborough countered with Dembele making mincemeat of Town on the left, pulling the ball back for Toney but Ash Eastham made a heroic block.Barton sent on Jason Holt and Chris Long for Dempsey and Taylor and switched to 4-4-2.Holt wasthe catalyst of a great counter by Fleetwood.Evans, Long and then Burns was released on the right flank, the forward picking the wrong option and going for goal, his strike flying way over. Fleetwood had a similar break moments later but with the same result, Burns’ first time effort flying wide.With Peterborough searching for a second that would put the game to bed that created gaps for Town to sting on the counter.Hunter’s strike was tipped away by Aaron Chapman and Long fird just past the post.Toney had a goal chalked off for offside as he nodded home a set-piece and the striker was in the thick of the action at one end.He got in again and could have settled it for the hosts, instead lifting the ball way wide.But up the other end Town continued to press for a leveller, Hunter sending an Eastham knockdown bobbling over the bar.Evans only saw his efforts blocked with Toney once again testing Cairns in and end-to-end affair at the death.Only some desperate defending by the Posh secured their 1-0 win, Long firing wide once more but Town could not find their way through.And though once again Fleetwood found themselves unable to fight back after going a goal behind there was hope from this performance as they left second in the table having shown their true colours.It is just unfortunate they did not pack their shooting boots or find a set-piece solution capable of testing the Posh.But there was more than enough evidence on this display to show another day will yield a different result.
Peterborough: Chapman, Daniel, Woodyard, Tafazolli, Walker, Dembele (Cooper, 88), Reed, Ward, Toney, Bennett, Maddison (Naismith, 78). Subs: Tyler, Naismith, O'Hara, Godden, Cooper, Denton, Cummings.
Fleetwood: Cairns, Coyle, Eastham, Morgan, R Wallace, Marney (Biggins, 42), Taylor (Holt, 62), Dempsey (Long, 62), Evans, Burns, Hunter. Subs: P Jones, Bolger, G Jones, Rydel.
Referee: O Yates.