Fleetwood Town 0-2 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 5th Mar 2022 17:00
Sam Morsy and Kayden Jackson scored second-half goals as the Blues gave their play-off hopes a boost by beating Fleetwood 2-0 at Highbury. After a dominant but frustrating first half, Morsy stroked home his first goal for Town in the 72nd minute, then Jackson added the second nine minutes later to secure a vital three points for the Blues.
Town boss Kieran McKenna made four changes with Jackson, Bersant Celina, Conor Chaplin and Joe Pigott coming into the team.
Pigott started as the central striker with Jackson and Chaplin behind him to the left and right respectively and Celina alongside skipper Morsy.
James Norwood, Macauley Bonne, Tyreeq Bakinson and Sone Aluko all dropped to the bench.
For Fleetwood, former Blues Toto Nsiala and Ellis Harrison both started, while Joe Garner was suspended having been sent off in midweek.
After a minute’s applause in support of the people of Ukraine and the players taking a knee, the Blues, with manager Kieran McKenna’s former Manchester United colleague Michael Carrick watching from the stand, began strongly on a patchy and boggy pitch, although less bumpy than the surface at Morecambe last week.
In the sixth minute, George Edmundson rose highest at a corner played to the near post but headed wide.
Three minutes later, Pigott sent Chaplin away on the right following a swift interchange of passes and the former Barnsley man cut in and shot low to home keeper Alex Cairns.
On 14 Celina played a clever pass through to Jackson on the edge of the box but the ball skidded off the pitch away from the striker.
Three minutes later, Morsy chipped a ball to the far post but Wes Burns, facing his old club, was just unable to get anything on it and in any case the linesman flagged that the Welshman was offside.
Soon after, Burns hit a low effort out of the mud from the edge of the area which Cairns grabbed at the second attempt.
Keeper Cairns made an injudicious rush off his line to clear a long ball forward in the 28th minute, his headed clearance finding Pigott midway inside the Fleetwood half. The former AFC Wimbledon man’s chip towards the empty goal under pressure floated over the bar.
In the 34th minute Pigott curled a shot wide off a defender after the Blues had worked their way to the edge of the area. From the resultant corner, Janoi Donacien was just unable to get a touch as the ball flashed across the edge of the six-yard box.
Four minutes later, Luke Woolfenden brought the ball to the edge of the area before it was taken away from him to Jackson, who was again thwarted as he sought to get in a shot and Cairns pounced on the loose ball.
As the fourth official raised his board, Pigott seized on some hesitant defending on the right of the box and hit a shot across Cairns which hit the outside of the post and bounced away for a throw.
There was a feeling of déjà vu for Town fans as their team made their way off at the break. As at Morecambe a week ago and at home to Cheltenham a few days earlier, the Blues had dominated but without being able to find a goal.
Pigott’s late effort off the post was the best opportunity, while Cairns probably hadn’t been tested enough from earlier efforts.
Fleetwood had rarely threatened with their most dangerous moments having come in the wake of Town players being caught out by the deteriorating pitch.
The second half got off to a slow start but on 52 the Cod Army forced Christian Walton into his first save of the afternoon. Tom Clarke curled a shot towards the corner of the net from the edge of the area but Walton got across superbly to tip wide, although the ball may well have been going just wide in any case.
Just before the hour, the game was halted after Edmundson and Burns were both caught by late tackles, the challenge on the centre-half breaking his shin pad. Referee Andrew Kitchen, who had been very lenient with both sides all afternoon, felt neither tackle warranted a free-kick let alone a caution.
However, in the 63rd minute Anthony Pilkington, a Town target in Paul Lambert’s time in charge, was booked for his protests having fouled Donacien.
Two minutes later, Jackson just overhit a through ball for Chaplin as the Blues broke forward at pace. Soon after, Bakinson replaced Pigott, the on-loan Bristol City man joining Morsy in the centre of midfield with Celina moving to the left and Jackson into the centre. Fleetwood swapped Pilkington for Cian Hayes.
Town’s second half display had been flat and lacking in tempo with Fleetwood more involved from an attacking perspective than they had been before the break.
Woolfenden was yellow-carded for a foul on former team-mate Harrison in the 69th minute and three minutes later the Blues finally found the net.
Chaplin injected the previously lacking tempo by quickly taking a free-kick he had won just inside the Fleetwood half to Celina, who brought it forward and played it to Burns to the right. The Welshman flashed a ball across the area and captain Morsy stroked home his first goal for the club and a very important one in the Blues’ play-off push.
Having scored his goal and put his side in front, the Egyptian international was booked a minute later for a foul on Zak Jules in the centre circle.
There was a scare for the Blues on 80 when Harrison and Dan Butterworth, who had just replaced Lane, burst way towards goal but the sub was crowded out on the left of the box.
A minute later, Town’s nerves and the game were settled when the Blues scored their second. Morsy played a simple ball to Celina, who played in Jackson on the left of the box from where the striker confidently slipped the ball past the advancing Cairns.
Two minutes after scoring his fourth goal of the season - his second in the league - Jackson was replaced by Bonne.
As the match moved into five minutes of additional time in which the Blues saw the game out confidently, Celina was replaced by Norwood.
Having dominated the first half but without finding the net, the Blues laboured in the early stages of the second half until Chaplin and Celina injected a bit more pace to the game from the free-kick which led to Morsy’s goal. The second goal made the result certain and the Blues were worthy winners.
The three points sees Town stay ninth, five points from the top six, one nearer than they were at kick-off, ahead of Tuesday’s home game against Lincoln, who beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 today.
Fleetwood: Cairns, Andrew (c), Jules, Clarke, Harrison (Morris 88), Camps, Pilkington (Hayes 67), Johnson, Lane (Butterworth 80), Nsiala, Johnston. Unused: O’Hara, G Garner, Biggins, Boyle.
Town: Walton, Donacien, Woolfenden, Edmundson, Thompson, Morsy (c), Celina ( Norwood 90), Burns, Chaplin, Jackson (Bonne 83), Pigott (Bakinson 66). Unused: Hladky, Penney, Aluko, Burgess. Referee: Andrew Kitchen (Durham).
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