Bolger strikes as battling Cobblers claim crucial win over high-flying Fleetwood

Cian Bolger rises highest to head home the Cobblers' winning goal (Picture: Pete Norton)Cian Bolger rises highest to head home the Cobblers' winning goal (Picture: Pete Norton)
Cian Bolger rises highest to head home the Cobblers' winning goal (Picture: Pete Norton)
Cian Bolger scored his first goal for the club as Cobblers ground out a tense but excellent 1-0 victory over in-form Fleetwood Town at the PTS Academy Stadium on Tuesday night.

Bolger powered in a header just after half-time as Town made it three games unbeaten and leaped to a season-high 14th place in Sky Bet League One.

Not for the first time this season, Cobblers were happy to cede possession and put the onus on Fleetwood to force the issue, which made for a sterile and inevitably goalless first-half.

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Bolger then struck the decisive blow and for all Fleetwood's possession thereafter, they failed to carve out a single clear opportunity against Town's stout and stubborn defending. It's now nearly 400 minutes since Cobblers conceded a league goal from open play - going all the way back to the second minute against Accrington Stanley.

Cobblers goalkeeper Steve Arnold claims a crossCobblers goalkeeper Steve Arnold claims a cross
Cobblers goalkeeper Steve Arnold claims a cross

Keith Curle had been critical of Jonathan Mitchell after Town's two most recent games and he dropped his goalkeeper on Tuesday, with Steve Arnold coming in. Nicky Adams and Benny Ashley-Seal also returned to the side.

But the biggest surprise came at kick-off when Cobblers lined up with four in defence for only the second time this season.

Michael Harriman was at right-back, just behind Adams in midfield, while Alan Sheehan and Sam Hoskins played on the other side of the pitch.

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The home side made a decent start in their new formation but did not trouble visiting goalkeeper Jayson Luetwiler with Ashley-Seal flicking a header well wide and Fraser Horsfall's penalty shout being waved away by referee Trevor Kettle.

Fleetwood began to assert themselves and went close with a couple of efforts on the edge of the box, but neither Callum Camps nor Sam Finley hit the target and then Ched Evans' effort deflected into the side-netting.

Cobblers, whilst toothless in attack, defended their penalty area stoutly and did not give up any clear chances with Fleetwood's only other effort in the first-half coming via Evans' free-kick on 39 minutes, which was well saved by Arnold.

Town barely had a chance to speak of in the first-half but they needed just three minutes of the second to break the deadlock. Adams whipped in an excellent corner and Bolger timed his run to perfection to power a head into the back of the net.

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Fleetwood initially struggled to muster a response to that setback and they were comfortably contained for the next 15 minutes or so, but gradually Town were pushed onto the back foot.

The away side's pressure built and built as time ticked away and they were so nearly level with 10 minutes to go, but Finley dragged just wide of the far post.

Substitute Danny Rose forced Luetwiler into a routine stop with his first touch but all the action was coming at the other end and it was just a question of whether Cobblers would buckle.

They didn't, defending with plenty of heart and resolve to survive five minutes of stoppage-time and clinch a terrific victory over a team with promotion ambitions.


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Cobblers: Arnold, Bolger (c), Sheehan, Horsfall, McWilliams, Sowerby, Harriman, Adams (Missilou 76), Hoskins, Ashley-Seal (Marshall 67), Smith (Rose 82)

Subs not used: Mitchell, Watson, Lines, Holmes

Fleetwood: Luetwiler, Edwards (Burns 75), Andrew, Connolly (Rossiter 85), Whelan, Coutts (c) (McKay 68), Madden, Finley (MOrris 84), Camps (Duffy 75), Mulgrew, Evans

Subs not used: Cairns, Hill

Referee: Trevor Kettle

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