Fleetwood Score First and Hang on for Proact Win

It was another close game for the Spireites but another one-goal defeat as Conor McLaughlin’s first half goal gave Fleetwood a 1-0 win and all three points at the Proact.

After Gboly Ariyibi had struck the post for the hosts, McLaughlin opened the scoring just prior to the break with a low shot after the right-back had countered into the Spireites’ box.

Second-half substitute Ched Evans hit the crossbar for the hosts, but the Spireites were unable to score and get themselves back level in the contest.

It was the away side who tested the water first, former Spireite Jimmy Ryan striking from 25 yards with his first touch of ball, the effort didn’t trouble Ryan Fulton and sailed wide.
A lofted crossfield ball from Dion Donohue fell to the feet of Ariyibi, who with his second touch curled a cross into Reece Mitchell. The young winger knocked it down to Kristian Dennis who struck it against the ‘keeper but out for a corner.
The corner caused its own issues as a goal-line scrap resulted in several Spireites attempting to get their foot onto the ball, Ariyibi came closest but Fleetwood cleared.
The home side were looking the most dangerous as further panic occurred in the Cod Army box, this time Jon Nolan was able poke it into the net, but the referee pulled play back for a foul on Fleetwood ‘keeper Chris Neal by Gary Liddle, with the ‘keeper soon replaced by former Spireites man Alex Cairns.
Ariyibi received the ball on the left and with the flick of one foot cut inside and floated the ball towards the top right corner, but it rattled the wrong side of the post and went wide.
Neither side were able to get a grip on possession as the half grew older and the rain began to take its toll on the pitch. The downpour showed as David Ball flew what looked to be a dangerous freekick over everyone except Liam O’Neil, who thumped clear.
In search of his first goal for the club, Anderson looked to have gotten his head to Jay O’Shea’s corner, but appeared to be dragged down and could only watch as the ball flew over his head and out for a throw in.
It was Fleetwood who broke the deadlock, McLaughlin picked the ball up inside the penalty area, took a touch and sliced it into the bottom left. The full-back had been fed the ball after some smart play on the right wing and marauded into the box unchallenged to score from the away side’s first shot on target.
The goal spurred the Cod Army on as they began to push further forward, Ashley Hunter found space in the box and attempted an almost identical strike to that of McLaughlin’s, but his effort went the opposite side of the post.
In the second half the slippery surface was causing problems for both sides as Liddle gifted the ball to Hunter. The forward charged into the box and hit it low towards Jack Sowerby who looked unable to miss, but somehow Fulton blocked the attempt.
The home side were struggling for possession as Fleetwood continued to push for the safety that comes with a second goal, Kyle Dempsey was the latest to try his luck from range, again though the shot sailed over the bar.
The return of Evans from the bench brought a surge of support from the home fans, the Welsh forward soon battled off three defenders to set up Donohue, but without Dennis to knock it in, his goalward strike was blocked by the Fleetwood defence.
O’Shea’s resulting corner provoked a pinball effect in the box, Anderson rose with the attack ready to pounce, but it was Cairns who collected the loose ball.
With his back to goal, Evans took possession on the edge of the box, he swivelled and struck but his shot was deflected and ended up at the feet of Ariyibi. The American winger lifted it back into the box but Cairns latched onto the ball first.
Attempting to regain control of the match, Ball charged at Sam Hird, feigned to his right and struck with his left at Fulton, the ‘keeper somehow saving once more low with his legs.
With their attention now turning to defending their slender lead, Fleetwood filled the penalty area with all 11 men, O’Shea’s free kick curled in and looked to have struck a Fleetwood hand, but the referee waved play on.
Desperate for that equalising goal, Donohue whipped in an inviting cross, Ariyibi leapt for the spectacular but his bicycle kick was in vein and struck a Fleetwood back.
Once again crowded by three defenders, Evans battled off the trio and fired it at Cairns, but his shot was blocked again by the away defence.
It fell at the feet of Evans once more and the Welsh forward’s attempt this time caught a Fleetwood foot and lobbed the ‘keeper, but instead struck the bar.
Edging closer to an equaliser, but also closer to full time, another penalty-box scramble resulted in a strike from Evans, but his shot is saved by Cairns.
With just minutes left on the clock, Liddle was the latest to see his shot blocked by Fleetwood’s ten-man strong defence, who cleared up-field before running down the clock in the far corner.

 

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