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28 Feb

Fleetwood Town maintain their grip at the top of the Blue Square North


Match Report

Fleetwood Town maintained their grip at the top of the Blue Square North despite recording a first home defeat of the campaign. Northwich Victoria took a convincing three point’s home from Highbury as Town slumped to back-to-back defeats following last weekend’s reversal at lowly Gainsborough Trinity.

Town fell short of Championship form as Andy Preece’s resurgent Northwich recorded their third consecutive win with nine goals to the good and just one against.

The troubled Cheshire club were much improved from the side defeated at Highbury in the FA Trophy last November and who succumbed a month later to a Sean Clancy hat trick at Victoria Park in the league.

Micky Mellon made two changes form last Saturday with Nick Rogan starting in place of the unwell Adam Warlow and Jamie Mullan taking over from substitute Nathan Pond. Steven Connors was a welcome return to the bench on his return from injury after being sidelined since mid-January.

The 1,267 supporters had to wait until the 20th minute before the game sprang to life through a Sean Clancy effort on goal following neat work from Rogan. The eventual man of the match looked set to put the home side in front but Curtis Aspden tipped over his 30 yard strike. Rogan could only fire the resulting corner straight at Aspden.

Vic’s Wayne Riley responded when he clipped Craig Dootson’s bar. Northwich kept the ball in the Town defensive third but Alan Wright showed composure to rob away striker Mark Danks at a crucial point of the build-up.

Then former Northwich winger Jamie Mullan, after a good run down the right, setup Gareth Seddon but Junior Brown saved the exposed Aspden. Mullan was then brought down by former team mate Michael Connor who was lucky to see yellow, and not red, for his rash challenge.

The home side were creating goal-scoring situations but poor finishing didn’t match the build-up play. Clancy first fed Anthony Barry on the half hour and then supplied Seddon, both shots going wide.

The game was heading level into the break when Danks capitalised on a free-kick delivery, and found enough time to turn in the box to blast Northwich home on 45 minutes.

Town started the second period looking to draw level. Barry’s long ball on to McNulty’s head saw Rogan unable to capitalise and Mullan could only head clear of goal.

Barry worked hard to inspire Fleetwood’s forward work and Connor continued to impose himself on Mullan. The hour mark saw Mellon make a double switch with Mullan and McGuire withdrawn in favour of Jamie Milligan and Nathan Pond. Michael Wilde was then brought on in place of the off-key Rogan.

The change of personnel proved ineffective as Fleetwood were guilty of providing Brian Dutton a relatively soft goal on 69 minutes. A cross to the back post allowed Dutton to out jump right-back Ashley Wooliscroft to head home his side’s second of the afternoon.

Town couldn’t break through a tight Vics defence as the home side again pushed to square the score line inside the last twenty minutes. A string of chances were either off target or held by the in-form Aspden. Wilde, Seddon, Barry, Milligan and Michael Taylor all seeing chances go begging.

Goal scorer Dutton was involved in the winner with twelve minutes remaining. The home side were caught on the counter when Danks broke with Dutton and substitute Lee Elam was provided with a tap in from six yards.

Fleetwood’s afternoon was summed up in the closing minutes when substitute Pond rattled Aspden’s bar and fellow replacement Wilde couldn’t latch on the loose rebound.

Southport reduced the gap on the leaders to five points with a draw at Corby Town. Fleetwood are next in action on Saturday when they visit third spot Hinckley United.

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