VERDICT: Doncaster Rovers 0 Fleetwood Town 4

What a difference a win makes.

Monday, 8th October 2018, 10:45 am
Updated Monday, 8th October 2018, 10:53 am
The Fleetwood Town players celebrate scoring at Doncaster

Is this the point where I metaphorically eat my words after questioning whether James Wallace should be in the starting line-up.

In a week that saw drama over the omission of former key players Bobby Grant, Cian Bolger and Kyle Dempsey, I called for Biggins or Dempsey to return to the midfield fold after the 1-1 draw with Wycombe.

On a run of five games without a win, we are entitled to question selection policy.

We’ve asked tough questions this week and they have been answered in the best arena possible: on the pitch.

And now we can wax lyrical about how right head coach Joaey Barton was to stick with James Wallace and turn our attention to how Fleetwood masterminded a 4-0 thumping of Doncaster, who started the day third in the league.

Perhaps it was the old manager of the month curse rearing its head as Grant McCann and his September player of the month John Marquis were outfoxed by Barton and company.

The key was simple: Do not make mistakes at the back, punish the opposition for theirs and take your chances.

The return to 4-4-2 and that renewed front two partnership of Ched Evans and Paddy Madden was a vital component in this victory.

While Madden might not have got on the scoresheet, his work on and off the ball is still key.

Evans won the penalty after a trip by keeper Marko Marosi.

James Wallace was the man with the looping ball up that led to that situation, justifying his selection on just his second league start.

Consistency is key too. Barton made just one change, rather than the flurry of four or more we saw in recent weeks.

Again injuries rocked the side, but with the inclusion of Ryan Taylor Town showed their versatility and adaptability.

It was just 10 minutes in that Wilks was fouled by James Husband on the edge of the area. The Town man injured himself in the process and Jason Holt was sent on.

That saw yet another shake-up at the back as Taylor moved to right-back as Holt took his spot in the middle, with Lewie Coyle swapping to left-back.

Doncaster should have taken advantage of that readjustment, but fortunately for Town Marquis’ radar was off as he nodded way off-target with Town at his mercy.

Wilks and Wright were also guilty of wasting chances and the stage was set for Wallace.

Fleetwood had spotted a way to undo Doncaster on set-pieces and it was that man Ash Hunter who whipped in a corner from the right for James Wallace to nod home.

His first goal and Hunter’s ninth assist of the season – a vital second goal. They learned the lessons of the Barnsley defeat and Wycombe draw, ensuring that after taking the lead they crucially scored next.

James Wallace’s fire alarm celebration was a nod to the telling-off he got from the chairman the previous day, having triggered the alarm during an evacuation at Poolfoot Farm.

Hunter has gone from strength to strength under Barton. Nine assists in 12 league games tells its own tale.

You can no longer call him selfish but it seems a selfless Hunter is taking his form to another stratosphere. The eyes of higher divisions will no doubt turn his way come January if this form continues.

The beauty was that Town kept going. And after Marquis wasted a golden opportunity to change the half-time talk as he blasted James Coppinger’s ball over from six-yards, the jubilant Town fans knew it was going to be their day.

Ash Eastham was the man to clinch the game just before the break.

The defender is not famed for his goals but he nodded home Ross Wallace’s corner from the left and celebrated in a way Alan Shearer would have been proud of on the stroke of half-time.

Town have wasted set-pieces in recent weeks but they proved in that first half they can be deadly on dead balls.

But after that Husband blow another injury was to disrupt Town.

James Wallace felt a tightness in his thigh and was removed at the break, skipper Craig Morgan making his big comeback as Sheron shifted over to right-back.

Town had struggled in the first half on crosses, Marquis and company getting perhaps too many chances.

But that was ironed out with Morgan back at the helm and Sheron impressing on the flank.

Coyle was man of the match out of position -n that left-back role. Leeds should be taking a closer look at him when January nears. Like Hunter, he has been a standout player.

Taylor now moved into a defensive midfield role. And after Hunter pounced on a Joe Wright slip to steam through on goal and sweep the ball home in the 48th minute, the game was done.

Town had to battle for that clean sheet but they did so. Like the win at Scunthorpe it was not perfect but perhaps that is where the beauty lies.

After the rumblings of discontent of recent weeks, it was a delight to witness Town silence the Keepmoat, the travelling Cod Army chanting “Easy, easy’ and banging the drum for this Barton side.

The key was the return of the Evans and Madden partnership, the 4-4-2 formation and the versatility of this Barton side.

With three different takes on a back four they kept a clean sheet.

Two more injury worries are a concern, especially that for Husband, but with Coyle in this team the Cod Army can sleep easy.