After dominating Saturday’s game against Peterborough and coming out pointless Bristol Rovers fans were left asking, “How did that happen?”This evening they have the perfect opportunity to put that mishap behind them when they entertain 10th placed Fleetwood Town.
The Fylde coast team are just one point behind the Gas having got off to a solid start to the season with just one defeat in their opening eight games before losing three in a row. Things have steadied again with three wins and a single defeat in their last four games. The latest of those was a 2-1 victory over Gillingham on Saturday.
In a dull first half the Cod Army took the lead on 19 minutes when on loan midfielder Kyle Dempsey rifled in a shot that David Bell deflected over the line from within the area.
The Gills contrived an equaliser just seven minutes into the second half as the home team failed to successfully clear a corner and the Kent team’s Jake Hessenthaler struck a goal from the edge of the area.
With time running out Conor McLaughlin provided a near post ball to Ash Hunter who put it away on the volley for his fifth goal of the season.
Fleetwood Boss Uwe Rosler was well pleased with his team after the game he commented, “We had some great opportunities where we missed the last ball and then we got sucked into their game. I’m delighted with our performance though and we started the game very well and got the early goal again.”
“We found it difficult to deal with their wide players because we couldn’t get around them. Our pressing against some teams was difficult to hold them away because they just lobbed the ball into their body, it was very difficult.”
“Mentally, we were strong dealing with the long balls and the balls into the box and like I always said, in Fleetwood Town, nobody is more important than the team. Our substitutions helped us today with energising us again and winning us the game.”
Rovers have had a win, a draw and two losses in their only four games against the seaside club. In 2012/13 the first season that the teams met the game at the Mem saw a steely 0-0 draw and Rovers came out on top in Lancashire as they returned victorious from Highbury Stadium with a 3-0 win, with goals by Danny Woodards, Eliot Richards and John-Joe O’Toole.
In the game in Bristol the following season it was 0-0 until the 64th minute when Jamille Matt netted from close range to give the visitors the lead. That lead was short lived, as Rovers equalised just two minutes later. John-Joe O’Toole headed into the top of the net following a good cross whipped in from the left from Bond.
As Rovers pushed for the winner Fleetwood re-took the lead on 87 minutes, Matt scoring his second of the game from the edge of the box after good interplay with Antoni Sarcevic who opened up Rovers defence.
In time added on the Cod Army got their third to seal the three points. Substitute Jon Parkin, scored an impressive volley from a tight angle.
The last time the teams clashed was in Lancashire and the home team ran out 3-1 winners. Fleetwood took a 21st minute lead when Rovers’ Skipper Tom Parkes tried to cut out a through ball some 30 yards from goal, but failed to control it and it fell to Sarcevic whose shot beat Steve Mildenhall with the aid of an apparent deflection off of Mark McChrystal.
With five minutes of the half remaining. Michael Smith blocked a shot from David Ball at the expense of a corner and when Morris swung the ball in from the left, the home skipper rose unchallenged to direct a header past Mildenhall.
Within six minutes of the second half the game was over as a contest, a cross from the left found Ball in space and his header beat Mildenhall who got a hand to the ball but couldn’t prevent it crossing the line.
Ellis Harrison pulled a goal back in the 79th minute from Lee Brown’s corner as he headed in his first goal of the season from close range.
Cod Army striker Ball heaped praise on substitute Ash Hunter for the impact he made on Saturday, “He is talented. Ash has shown over the past couple of seasons what he can do, he certainly got a lot to learn but if he can do certain things right he can be a really good player.”
“We got three points out of the two away games and we knew that playing at home we had to get back to winning ways. Fair play to the lads we’ve done that today.”
“It was tough. I think from the middle part of the first half we played some good stuff and caused them problems when we got it down and played. We didn’t play as well as we have done but we got the win so that’s good.”
“When you’re playing against big centre halves I’m probably the one that has to challenge for the long kicks so I’ve got to put my body on the line for the team. It’s probably the first time really I’ve played when I haven’t been scoring but I feel like I’ve contributed to the team in different ways. I’ve been staying in my own position for a run of games and it’s allowed me to be confident in that sense because I know I’ll get another go in the next game.”
Before the Gillingham game Rosler had thrown down a challenge to his team to show more aggression, “I think we have a squad of players who, on the day, can beat anyone in our league. In League One I see a lot of talented players, but I also see inconsistency and mistakes. And with that we have to focus on us how to beat Gillingham this week.”
“We have to minimise our mistakes all over the pitch, not only in defence but also in midfield and up front.”