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ROVERS DEFEATED AT HIGHBURY

14 January 2017

Fleetwood Town 3-1 Bristol Rovers

Attendance: 3,728 (769 away)

Fleetwood stormed to a two-goal lead at Highbury through first-half goals from Ashley Hunter and Cian Bolger, but Billy Bodin's second half volley looked to have given Rovers a way back into the contest, before a late David Ball goal sealed the three points for Fleetwood. 

Heading into the encounter at Highbury, Rovers boss Darrell Clarke made one change to the side that defeated Northampton Town, introducing winger Byron Moore to the starting line-up, with Cristian Montano dropping to the bench.

New signing Joe Partington started the fixture on the bench, alongside academy graduate shot-stopper, Kieran Hodges.

Fleetwood boss Uwe Rosler also made just the single change in the hosts starting XI, with Ashley Hunter starting in place of Devante Cole.

It was the hosts that created the opening opportunity of the game when forward Ashley Hunter was able to make ground down the right-wing before producing a dangerous low cross into the Rovers area that narrowly missed both David Ball and Bobby Grant, with Rovers hurrying the ball clear of danger through Ollie Clarke.

Rovers responded with chances of their own, with Matty Taylor moving intelligently inside the box to connect with a Chris Lines delivery into the Fleetwood area. The striker did well to turn to evade the challenge of Nathan Pond, but after shifting his body to open up a clear shot on goal Taylor sent his effort straight into the hands of Fleetwood 'keeper Alex Cairns. 

Fleetwood were in front in 13th minute, when a David Ball delivery into the box was controlled by Ashley Hunter, who took the ball down and produced a right-footed finish that lifted the ball into the corner of the net and out of reach of the outstretched Will Puddy.

Billy Bodin took advantage of a loose ball breaking to him twenty yards from goal and produced a first-time shot that required Cairns dive to his right to palm the winger's effort wide of goal. 

Fleetwood carried on creating attacking chances during the first-half, with Amari'i Bell delivering a threatening ball into the area that had to be touched behind for a corner by defender Lee Brown. From the resulting set-piece, George Glendon swung a deep corner into the mix that was headed through a crowd of players and into the net by Cian Bolger.

Before the break Rovers created a chance to reduce Fleetwood's two-goal lead, when James Clarke delivered a cross into the area that was met by Ellis Harrison. The forward was able to steer the ball the ball to Matty Taylor with a header, with Taylor then denied by a good reaction save from Cairns. 

Within minutes of the restart, Ashley Hunter was again causing Rovers problems down the right-hand side, with the striker getting to the touchline before cutting a cross back into the area that was intercepted by Ellis Harrison heading the ball behind for a corner.

Rovers made a double change, with Mark McChrystal and Lee Brown making way for Jermaine Easter and Joe Partington, with the substitutions leading to Rovers changing their setup, as Partington slotted into a back three alongside James Clarke and Tom Lockyer. 

Rovers reduced Fleetwood's advantage ten minutes into the second half, when Ellis Harrison cushioned a cross from the right into the path of the advancing Billy Bodin, after timing a leap well to win a header inside the area. Fleetwood's Nathan Pond attempted to intercept Ellis' header, but collided with his teammate Conor McLaughlin, allowing Billy Bodin the opportunity to fire a volley unchallenged past Alex Cairns. 

The goal was followed by an increase in urgency for Rovers, who enjoyed a spell of possession inside the Fleetwood half but were unable to convert that possession into concreate chances. Matty Taylor provided a neat piece of play which saw the striker draw a number of Fleetwood defenders out position, but his final ball into the area was just behind Ellis Harrison.

With under ten minutes left in the game Fleetwood were able to add a third goal, which sealed the victory for the hosts, with David Ball able to get in behind the Rovers defence before angling a finish past Will Puddy.

Luke James came close to scoring right at the death when his deflected shot from the fringes of the area almost crept under the crossbar, but Alex Cairns was alert to tip his effort over the bar.

Next up for Rovers is a trip to face Walsall next Saturday in SkyBetLeague One.

Fleetwood Town: Alex Cairns (G), Conor McLaughlin, Amari'i Bell, Nathan Pond (C) (56' Ashley Eastham), David Ball, Bobby Grant, Cian Bolger, George Glendon (61' Victor Nirenhold), Ashley Hunter (76' Devante Cole), Kyle Dempsey, Ben Davies.

Subs: Chris Neal (G), Eggert Jonsson, Chris Long, Jack Sowberry, 

Rovers: Will Puddy (G), Lee Brown (54' Jermaine Easter), Tom Lockyer (C), Mark McChrystal (54' Joe Partington), James Clarke, Chris Lines, Ollie Clarke, Byron Moore, Billy Bodin, Ellis Harrison, Matty Taylor (71' Luke James)

Subs: Kieran Hodges (G), Liam Lawrence, Stuart Sinclair, Cristian Montaño, Luke James 


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