Late Nsiala goal gives Town a 1-0 win
Town: Dean Henderson, Ben Godfrey, Mat Sadler, Shaun Whalley, Abu Ogogo ©, Carlton Morris, Junior Brown (Omar Beckles 75), James Bolton, Jon Nolan, Aristote Nsiala, Alex Rodman
Subs: Craig MacGillivray, Omar Beckles, Louis Dodds, Arthur Gnahoua, Lenell John-Lewis, Bryn Morris, Stefan Payne
Fleetwood Town: Alex Cairns, Lewie Coyle, Amari’I Bell, Aiden O’Neill (Bobby Grant 63), Ashley Eastham, Nathan Pond, Kyle Dempsey, Conor McAleny (Jordy Hiwula 63), Markus Schwabl (Ashley Hunter 75), Baily Cargill, Devante Cole
Subs: Chris Neal, Jordy Hiwula, Wes Burns, Bobby Grant, Harvey Rodgers, Ashley Hunter, Jack Sowerby
Referee: Nicholas Kinseley
Assistants John Farries and Nicholas Barnard
Fourth Official: Ravel Cheosiaua
Attendance: 5989 (171)
Toto Nsiala scored an 88th minute winner as Town extended their unbeaten run to 15 games to remain top of League One. The first-half was a quiet affair as both sides struggled with the wind, but Town improved after the break and Whalley, Rodman and Ogogo all went close. However, the game appeared to be heading for a stalemate until Toto Nsiala rose highest from Shaun Whalley’s corner to give Town the win. There was one sour note for Town as Junior Brown was forced off with injury.
Unsurprisingly, Paul Hurst sticks with the same team which blew Bristol Rovers away in the first-half on Tuesday night. Carlton Morris leads the line with Whalley and Rodman providing support from the wings. The bench also remains the same with Joe Riley and Ebou Adams the two names to miss out on the 18. Fleetwood go with their preferred 3-5-2 formation and Conor McAleny is back from injury to partner Devante Cole upfront. Former Town man Bobby Grant is on the bench.
It was apparent from the first 30 seconds that they weather would play a factor in this afternoon’s game. The wind was sweeping in from the South end of the ground and it was making it very difficult for Fleetwood, who were shooting into the wind in the first-half, to get the ball away out of their own half. It meant that Town dominated the early proceedings, forcing a couple of early corners, but Fleetwood managed to scramble them away to safety.
10 minutes into the game Alex Cairns was forced into his first save of the day. Shaun Whalley and Carlton Morris played a neat one-two on the right hand side, which allowed Whalley to continue his run towards the box. He cut inside onto his left foot and shot, but he didn’t get any real power behind the effort and Cairns comfortably held onto it.
That turned out to be the only shot either side would have on target in the opening half-an-hour, with most of the play concentrating on the central third. Both sides has spells of possession in and around the centre circle, but when it came to creating a clear-cut chance, moves broke down.
Fleetwood created very little going forward, but Conor McAleny looked their most dangerous player and seven minutes before the break he almost wriggled his way through. He managed to take the ball past Nsiala and Sadler, but Dean Henderson was quick to react and he slid out to take the ball off the strikers toe.
Just before the break Junior Brown tested Alex Cairns on a couple of occasions. The first saw Brown take a pot shot from 25 yards after decent Town passing move, which started with a 50 yards run from James Bolton, but it was straight down Cairns’ throat. The second came from a Shaun Whalley corner as Brown found himself unmarked 10 yards out, but his header was once again straight into the hands of the Fleetwood ‘keeper.
Fleetwood were probably the happier side at half-time as they had dealt with the wind in the first 45 minutes and would now have it in their favour. They certainly came out with more energy and created a chance with the opening minute – Kyle Dempsey shooting wide after some good work form Bell down the left.
Town then responded with an effort of their own as Shaun Whalley got into full flight down the right hand side. He slid through Carlton Morris, who took a touch before shooting from the angle, but Cairns made a comfortable save at his front post.
The same two players connected again a few minutes later, with Whalley this time being the recipient of Morris’ pass. Whalley tried to curl one into the far corner with his left-foot, but it was too close to Alex Cairns, who didn’t even have to dive.
The best chance of the game came in the 60th minute. Shaun Whalley’s corner was only half-cleared and Whalley was given a second chance to deliver. This time his ball was far more dangerous and Cairns didn’t get the punch he had hoped for. The ball dropped to Alex Rodman who had two shots in quick succession, but Fleetwood threw bodies in front of them and eventually cleared it away.
Town were starting to play some really decent stuff now - moving the ball far quicker than they had done in the first-half. One really nice flowing move saw Rodman, Ogogo and Nolan all get involved, but Ogogo’s shot from the edge of the box went inches wide of the post.
Town made their first substitution of the afternoon with just less than 20 minutes of play and it led to change of formation as Stefan Payne replaced James Bolton. Ben Godfrey moved to right back and Payne joined Carlton Morris upfront as Town went to a 4-4-2.
However, less than a minute after making the substitution Town were forced into making a second as Junior Brown went down with injury. Brown fell awkwardly as he looked to take on his man and he stayed down. Chris Skitt came onto the pitch straight away, but after a lengthy delay Brown hobbled off and was replaced by Omar Beckles.
The enforced change could easily have taken the sting out of Town’s play, but they continued to attack in numbers with both Alex Rodman and Shaun Whalley trying their luck from distance, but they couldn’t find the target.
With just over five minutes remaining Town made their third and final change as Lenell John-Lewis replaced Carlton Morris.
The game felt like it was heading for a draw, but Town just don’t know when to give up this season and with two minutes left on the clock Toto Nsiala headed Town in front. The big men came up from the back for Shaun Whalley’s corner and Nsiala rose above his marker to head into the top corner of the net, out of the reach of Lewie Coyle who had been placed on the post.
The referee added five minutes of injury time, but Town kept the ball brilliantly in the corner to see out the victory.