MATCH REPORT: Sheffield United 0 Fleetwood 2
Devante Cole's delightful chip sealed a fine victory for Fleetwood at league leaders Sheffield United.
Town made it 11 unbeaten in the league as a solid defensive performance blunted the high-flying Blades and saw Town move within a point of third-placed Bolton.
Uwe Rosler’s men are now withing breathing distance of the Wanderers thanks to wing-back Conor McLaughlin’s fourth of the season and Cole’s second league effort of the campaign as Fleetwood pulled off a massive victory at Bramall Lane and left portions of the crowd booing their top of the table side at full-time as Town strolled to victory in the closing stages.
Rosler made three changes from the side that beat Coventry 1-0 on Saturday.
New central midfielder Marcus Schwabl, Wes Burns and Devante Cole started in place of George Glendon, David Ball and Ash Hunter.
Sheffield United started brightly on their home turf with Billy Sharp nodding the ball straight at Cairns and Mark Duffy curling a speculative effort way wide of the right post.
Only a fine save from Blades keeper Moore thwarted former Town loanee Burns from re-opening his his Fleetwood goal account as he pounced on Cole’s neat pass forward and twisted and turned in the box before firing the ball towards goal from an angle.
But Moore had no chance moments later as Grant looked to be eyeing up a shot on goal but instead his long range effort from the left turned into a peach of a pass that fell to McLaughlin in acres of space on the right and the full-back coolly hammered the ball home in the 21st minute.
The Blades gave the ball away to Cole but after the forward raced towards goal with Burns for company he smashed the ball wide of the right stick.
Burns nearly made it 2-0 after Dempsey intercepted a Blades pass and launched a counter but after the on-loan Huddersfield man had sent Burns in on the left Moore was out quickly and made himself big to just do enough to stop the forward scoring.
The Blades started brightly once again but Town continued to blunt them and even their normally clinical forward Sharp saw an effort from close range deflected out for a corner and Cairns just hold onto Sharp’s fierce effort from outside the box.
But it was Town who were clinical as good work from Dempsey in the middle lead to a defensive mix-up at the back for the Blades with Cole nipping in just outside the box to delicately chip the ball over Moore.
United had dominated possession but good defensive work by Town and especially wing-backs McLaughlin and Bell who stopped Chris Wilder’s side getting any width and absorbed most of their attacks with the Blades only on the ball in safe positions but even then they were constantly pressed by Rosler’s men in blue.
But when the Blades did get in on the wings and whip a cross in Town’s defenders, wing-backs and Cairns were on hand to deal with everything they could muster with grumbles from the home crowd ringing round the stands.
But the closest United came to a goal in the dying embers was a hopeful ball that was pumped up and bounced menacingly off Bolger’s knee towards his own goal before a back-tracking Cairns just managed to collect and keep the clean sheet.
Fleetwood: Cairns, McLaughlin, Eastham, Bolger, Davies, Bell, Dempsey, Schwabl (Glendon, 75), Grant, Burns (Hunter, 62), Cole (Ball, 70). Subs not used: Neal, Davis, Long, Maguire.
Sheffield United: Moore, Fleck, O’Connell, Basham Scougall, 46), McNulty (Lavery, 46), Sharp, Coutts, Freeman, Ebanks-Landell, Duffy, Lafferty (Done, 89). Subs not used: Ramsdale, Wright, Riley, Wilson.
Referee: Robert Jones.
Attendance: 19,012 (133 Fleetwood)