Full time report as United lose out
United were beaten 3-0 at Fleetwood this afternoon as two defensive errors cost them dear. An unfortunate rebound and a mistimed clearance gave the Cod Army the advantage and a killer third goal from Jon Parkin sealed a home win in the first ever meeting between the two clubs.
The first effort of the afternoon came from the home side’s Jamie Allen whose 25 yard effort was stopped by Wayne Brown, but the early pressure was all at that end and U’s were behind on ten minutes in unfortunate circumstances. A long ball set up a duel between Michael Raynes and Jamille Matt. Raynes did brilliantly to get there first and win the ball but was horrified to see his powerful clearance blocked by Matt’s outstretched boot. It was at least 20 yards from goal but Brown had no chance as the ricochet flew past him and into the net for the former Kidderminster Harrier’s first goal for the Cod Army.
For the second away game in a row United were behind early in the action without the home side having to work too hard for their goal. Could they recover as they had done at Bradford? Well a 12th minute move which almost set up Sean Rigg inside the Fleetwood box was a good sign, and they started to come back into the game and settle on the ball as the half wore on. However they were grateful to Brown for a good save on 22 as debutant Paul McKenna fired in a sharp effort, and then even more grateful for a flag as Atkinson nodded a corner home at the far post while fouling Damian Batt.
There was another let off on 32 as Raynes again cleared but it smashed into the retreating Brown and was only smuggled away on the line by Jake Wright’s superb covering and there was then a tactical change to try and add some steel in the middle of the park. Raynes stepped into midfield to change the shape from 3-4-3 to 4-3-3 and United instantly started to play much more in Fleetwood’s half. A flurry of corners caused problems for the home side and only a brave header from captain Rob Atkinson denied Justin Richards in the last minute as he homed in on a Sean Rigg cross.
Having changed the shape United then replaced Raynes with Adam Chapman at half time and continued to pick up the pace as they started the second half strongly. However on 58 they were 2-0 down and once again the engineers of their own downfall. Wright won a header, Batt went to clear but the ball splodged on the damp pitch rather than bounce up and the usually ultra-reliable right back miskicked horribly. Sub Ryan Crowther gratefully stole the ball beyond the United back line and slid the ball confidently beyond Brown to double Fleetwood’s advantage.
Brown saved well from the lively Matt and there was the encouraging sight of Deane Smalley making his return after injury as United tried to salvage something. The game grew tetchy as sly kicks and nudges went unpunished, an appeal for a penalty as Potter span in the box was waved away and shots from Rigg and Craddock which went close.
In truth United probably had the lion's share of possession in the second half but hadn't tested home keeper Scott Davies enough and on 86 they had had their chips as the Cod Army secured the win. A ball across was controlled at the back post and crossed low for the experienced Parkin to tap the ball home from six yards out to make it 3-0 and game over.
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Darrell Fisher, stats by PA