By Gerry Prewett
With twelve points from their last six games Bristol Rovers are in a good run of form, but face a Fleetwood Town team this week who are undefeated in their last 12 games. During that spell the Cod Army has accumulated 18 points from their 8 League games.
Town were in Bristol last weekend as they took on our neighbours in an FA Cup tie at Ashton gate on the same day Rovers were thrashing Northampton 5-0. The Robins, 18th in the Championship, gave debuts to new signings Milan Djuric, Jens Hegeler and Bailey Wright.
City keeper Frank Fielding produced a fine save to deny David Ball early on, while Fleetwood's Alex Cairns saved from Korey Smith and Lee Tomlin.
Debutant Bosnia-Herzegovina striker Milan Djuric went closest after the break, hitting the side netting and heading wide late on. Lee Johnson will have a good indication of the task facing his team at Highbury Stadium, where Fleetwood have not lost in nine matches, after Rovers’ trip to the Fylde coast.
Fleetwood Boss Uwe Rosler said after the game, "Keeping our good record going against a Championship club who have just made three great signings was very pleasing.”
"They controlled the game in the second half, but it was credit to our defensive organisation and attitude that we restricted them mainly to shots from outside the box. It's fantastic for the club to be in the fourth-round draw for the first time. But what I embrace most is that my players stepped up to the tempo of facing opponents from a higher league.”
"Their new players gave Bristol City a lift and they played well, which makes our performance all the more satisfying. It was a fair result and a great one for us. We need the money more than Bristol City!"
Rovers have had two wins, a draw and two losses in their only five 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 in Lancashire 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.
Earlier this season Rovers won the game at the Mem, 2-1. Rovers trailed to a fourth-minute strike when Ashley Hunter's angled right-foot shot found the top left corner.
Rovers dominated possession but it wasn’t until the 61st minute that Matty Taylor headed home Daniel Leadbitter's cross to level. Leadbitter was again the supply line when Cristian Montano shot home right footed to win the game on 73 minutes.
Fleetwood's livewire strikers Hunter and Chris Long caused Rovers plenty of problems in the first half, both having efforts saved. At the other end, Taylor forced three saves from Chris Neal and had another effort deflected over.
The January Transfer window has been used by Town to secure the permanent signing of George Glendon, whose loan deal from Manchester City ended earlier this week. Glendon, a former captain of Man City’s elite development squad, has impressed this season having made 16 appearances from the centre of midfield for the Cod Army.
The Manchester-born midfielder joined City's academy at the age of five and has represented England at under-17 level, but until this season had yet to feature in a professional game.
Glendon has been one of the first names on Rosler’s teamsheet since Jimmy Ryan’s foot injury in November opened to door to league football. Rosler said, “There’s far more to come, there’s a lot of potential in him and that is our strategy, to sign players on loan, find out if they’re suiting us and we suit them, and going into partnership. I’m very, very happy and looking forward to working with Glenno."
“We are delighted to make the loan move permanent, it’s a big deal for Fleetwood Town. I think Glenno had been developed into a player who stood up to the challenge and rose to the challenge and showed what a good player he is. Our strategy is to sign players on loan, find out if they’re suiting us and we suit them, and going into partnership.”