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Cobblers’ attack lacking bite in defeat to Fleetwood

Chris Hackett is tackled during the Cobblers' Sky Bet League Two clash at Fleetwood (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Chris Hackett is tackled during the Cobblers' Sky Bet League Two clash at Fleetwood (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

 

The Cobblers remain cut adrift at the bottom of Sky Bet League Two after a 2-0 defeat at promotion-chasing Fleetwood Town.

A goal in each half from Cod Army midfielder Gareth Evans proved to be enough for the home side, with the Cobblers enjoying plenty of possession but having very little bite in attack.

The result leaves Town as they were at the bottom of the table, with Torquay United losing and Wycombe’s match at Cheltenham being postponed.

Chris Wilder’s men remain five points from safety, but their game in hand over Wycombe has now disappeared.

The Cobblers made four changes to the team which won 2-1 at Torquay United on Tuesday night, with only one of them enforced.

Gregor Robertson missed out due a knee problem and was replaced at centre back by Ben Tozer, while also dropping out were the two-goal hero at Plainoor, Emile Sinclair, his strike partner Alan Connell and left midfielder Ben Dickenson.

Replacing them in the line up at Highbury Stadium were John Marquis for this full Cobblers debut, Antonio German and Gary Deegan.

Cobblers lined up in a 4-5-1 formation, with Marquis leading the line, Chris Hackett and German wide, and Deegan, Darren Carter and Ricky Ravenhill the central midfield three.

It was a surprising move by Wilder.

The game was also preceded by a minute’s applause for England footballing great, Tom Finney, who passed away on Friday.

The Cobblers started the game confidently, but it was the home side that created the first chance of note, with Matt Duke stopping Steven Schumacher’s 25-yard drive, although for a horrible moment it looked as though he would let the ball squirm through his legs.

On 11 minutes Duke was called into action again, parrying away a near post header from Mark Roberts from an inswinging corner.

The home side were clearly under instructions to be positive, and adopted something of a shoot on sight policy, with central defender Nathan Pond at one point even shooting from inside his own half, the ball going only a couple of feet over the bar.

The home side’s pressure told on 21 minutes when they went 1-0 ahead through left midfielder Gareth Evans, who made a diagonal run off his wing which wasn’t tracked, and latched on to a precision through ball from Schumacher.

He still had plenty to do as he was under pressure from Mathias Doumbe, but he kept his composure, took his time, and lifted the ball over the advancing Duke and into the net.

Cobblers enjoyed plenty of possession following the goal without threatening to score, and on 37 minutes Fleetwood wasted a gilt-edged chance to double their lead.

Jon Parkin showed a nice touch and piece of skill to beat Doumbe on the left of the penalty area, and clipped a perfect cross on to the head of Jamile Matt, but somehow contrived to head the ball high and wide from six yards out, with Duke nowhere.

The score stayed 1-0 until the half-time break.

Town came out for the second half unchanged, and again enjoyed some early possession with no end product.

Chances were at a premium for both sides for the opening 20 minutes of the half, but the Cobblers were slowly gaining some sort of momentum, with Leon McSweeney having a shot well blocked and Emile Sinclair, on for German, looping a header over the top.

On 68 minutes Town were again indebted to Duke as he made a sharp save from a close-range effort by Matt, who diverted a low cross by Scott Murdoch goalwards.

Alan Connell was introduced into the fray on 69 minutes in place of Ravenhill, with Cobblers throwing caution to the wind.

Marquis was joined up top by Sinclair and Hackett, with Connell operating in the hole behind them.

The move had the desired affect as the Cobblers started to dominate and create half-chances, with Marquis heading wide, and Connell clipping over the top from 18 yards.

But it was the home side who extended their lead on 80 minutes, with Evans scoring his second of the game.

Fleetwood broke down the right, and as Ben Tozer tussled with Matt, Parkin picked up the loose ball and drove into the box. He could have shot, but delayed and clipped a lovely cross on to the head of the unmarked Evans, who made no mistake.

The Cobblers continued to press, and their effort throughout the contest cannot be questioned, but they also continued to look powder-puff in the final third as the game petered out.

Fleetwood: Maxwell, Roberts, Pond, Evans, Scumacher (56m, Murdoch), Parkin (86m,, Brown), Matt (82m, Mandron), McLaughlin, Sarcevic, Taylor, Marrow. Subs not used: Davies, Hogan, Cresswell, Hughes

Cobblers: Duke, McSweeney, Widdowson, Carter, Marquis, Hackett, Tozer, Deegan, German (49m, Sinclair), Doumbe, Ravenhill (69m, Connell). Subs not used: Morris, Snedker, Moyo, Toney, Dickenson.

Referee: Richard Clark

Goals: 21 mins: 1-0 Evans, 80 mins: 2-0 Evans;

Attendance: 2,521

 

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