Sarcevic 10, 37
UNITED went down to their first away defeat in League Two this season in a game that was very much controlled by Fleetwood.
The Cod Army made their possession count with two goals in each half, with Elliot Benyon scoring a late consolation for the Gulls.
Alan Knill made three changes from the frustrating loss on penalties to Portsmouth in midweek. Lee Mansell, Kevin Nicholson, and Karl Hawley replaced Tom Cruise, Damon Lathrope, and Elliot Benyon. Fleetwood made changes of their own by bringing in Jeff Hughes and Antoni Sarcevic for Stewart Murdoch and Matty Blair.
Fleetwood came into this fixture having beaten Tranmere on Tuesday and they certainly attacked the game like a team in confidence. In particular, it was Jamille Matt and Sarcevic who were the Cod Army’s attacking threats.
Martic Rice has taken his chance as No.1 goalkeeper well this season and he had plenty to do to restrict Fleetwood to just two goals in the first half.
He saved well from Matt, Steven Schumacher, and Hughes until Sarcevic opened the scoring with a header from a corner that Rice got something on but couldn’t stop going into the net.
United then rallied and had some good possession with Cameron causing problems down Fleetwood’s right hand side. It was a Cameron cross that prompted momentary panic in the Fleetwood penalty area with the ball eventually falling for Callum Ball but he shot wide.
Sarcevic then scored his second, taking advantage of a headed clearance from Aaron Downes that landed on the edge of United’s penalty area. The midfielder took a touch and then hit a low shot that left Rice with little chance.
United came out from the half-time break with something to prove but it was Martin Rice who, again, kept his side in the game with some smart saves. Then Fleetwood hit their third. Rice was unlucky when a corner spilled from his grasp and Matt was there to help the ball over the line.
Knill then chose to bring on Daniel Sullivan and Elliot Benyon. The game had evened a little by that point, United gaining more possession and forcing more corners. It was the substitutes that combined for Benyon to score his first goal of the season.
With just a minute left on the clock, Sullivan laid the ball off at the edge of the area and Benyon hit a shot that beat Fleetwood’s goalkeeper Scott Davies. It was a goal that United deserved, for the way that they pushed on, even though the game was lost at that point.
It wasn’t to be the last goal of the game, however, as Fleetwood replied almost immediately with Matty Blair scoring the Cod Army’s fourth and sending the Gulls home pointless.
Fleetwood Town:1 Davies, 3 Howell, 06 Pond, 15 McLaughlin, 16 Cresswell, 08 Schumacher, 11 Hughes, 18 Sarcevic [Murdoch 81’], 07 Evans [Blair 90’], 10 Matt [Ball 81’] 12 Brown. Substitutes [not used]: 33 Lucas, 05 Roberts, 14 Hogan, 09 Parkin
United[4-4-2]: 13 Martin Rice; 2 Dale Tonge, 5 Krystian Pearce, 4 Aaron Downes, 3 Kevin Nicholson; 11 Courtney Cameron [31 Sullivan 68], 7 Lee Mansell [capt], 8 Ben Harding, 12 Jordan Chapell; 9 Karl Hawley [26 Elliot Benyon 68], 16 Callum Ball. Substitutes [not used]: 6, Lathrope, 15 Niall Thompson, 20 Craig, 21 Thomas Cruise, 33 Conor Thompson[GK].
Booked:Harding 28’, Mansell 30’
Match report by Patrick Tinkler