Preview: Fleetwood Town

One of these days supporting Coventry City will provide some sort of cardiac failure for me. For about three minutes after Frank Nouble put us 3-1 up against Chesterfield that cloud of anxiety that usually comes with supporting this club had assuaged. Yet as soon as I remembered that it was Coventry City that I supported and nothing is ever safe, Chesterfield pulled a goal back and it was back to usual, familiar, anxiety that we are all so accustomed to.

The job was eventually seen through and it proved to be a valuable win after Leyton Orient smashed Yeovil Town to threaten us with the bottom four. Orient look set to vacate the relegation zone in an upwards fashion in the next few weeks, that win on Saturday goes a long way to ensuring that their resurgence won’t be at the expense of our League One status.

A no from Tony to setting points targets.
A no from Tony to setting points targets.

I sincerely doubt that Tony Mowbray is someone who looks at points targets, but if we are to assume that 52 points will keep us up, we ideally need four wins from the final 10 games. Not winning on Saturday would have meant that we could have needed to win exactly half of our remaining games to stay up. Still, a win against Fleetwood in this forthcoming game will reduce that minimum target of wins to just three in nine. As bad as our situation has looked for the past month or so, putting together a couple of wins will make a massive difference.

The Wolves captain Sam Ricketts seems set to sign at the time of writing but this game may come too soon for him to be involved despite reports that he travelled with the squad to Saturday’s game. His signing on loan makes Chris Stokes position at left-back seem precarious although Ricketts can play anywhere across the back and it seems likely that we could turn Stokes into a permanent signing should Mowbray so wish.

The return of Jim O’Brien presents Mowbray’s biggest selection headache after Spurs loanee Grant Ward put in a solid debut as a holding midfielder which freed up John Fleck to get forward more and after Adam Barton impressed as a right-sided midfielder. Captain O’Brien has been in really mixed form over the past few months and at times his performances have seemed detrimental to the team as a whole. O’Brien definitely has a role to play for the rest of the season, it would just be harsh to drop anyone from midfield after Saturday’s win.

Possible Line-Up: (4-2-3-1) Burge; Willis, Pennington, Martin, Stokes;Ward, Fleck; Barton, Tudgay, Odelusi, Nouble

Last Time We Met

One of the strangest moments of the season came during our last, and only previous, meeting against Fleetwood Town. It was a fairly drab game in which Fleetwood took the lead slightly against the run of play. Only, you wouldn’t have known that Fleetwood had actually scored judging from the decibel level at the Ricoh Arena, I can’t have been the only one who thought that the goal had either hit the side-netting or been disallowed.

The Sky Blues blustered through the rest of the game, trying mainly to play long balls towards Gary Madine and seeing what happened after that. Just as it looked like we were going to lose another dismal game at the Ricoh Arena without really putting pressure on the opposition, James Maddison’s introduction actually led to us threatening our opponents. Although Maddison was not directly involved in the goal, yet another long ball towards Madine from which Simeon Jackson pounced on the flick-on, the youngster gave us some much-needed impetus in the final third to earn us the point.

How Are They Doing?

Fleetwood have managed to stick around the top half of this division for most of the season, based on having a remarkably stingy defence and some strong form at home. Graham Alexander’s side are not necessarily defensive in their approach but are set up in a way that’s hard for opponents to break down. The main thing that’s been holding Fleetwood back has been the lack of an out-and-out goalscoring centre-forward, although sitting just two points off the play-offs shows that it’s not hurting them that badly.

Remarkably for a team chasing the play-offs, their top-scorer is a midfielder with only seven goals.
Remarkably for a team chasing the play-offs, their top-scorer is a midfielder with only seven goals.

Their current top-scorer is Blackburn loanee midfielder Josh Morris who has seven goals this season. A tidy box-to-box midfielder, the left-footed Morris’ work-rate makes him an important player in Graham Alexander’s side. The manager’s style of play seems to suit hard-working players with the more creative Antoni Sarcevic and Stephen Dobbie having struggled for form over the course of the season.

Marshalling the defence is former Stevenage captain Mark Roberts who has been ever-present since joining at the start of last season, playing a major role in their promotion from League Two and now in their push for the play-offs. A commanding centre-back, who may not be the quickest on the ground but the way Fleetwood pack the midfield has meant that he has been rarely exposed in that manner. Also in defence, right-back Conor McLaughlin has impressed over the past few years, drawing glances from the richer League One clubs and a few Championship sides.

Goalkeeper Chris Maxwell has also been an important player in keeping Fleetwood’s defensive record so tight. The former Wrexham stopper has made the position his own since returning from a loan spell in the Conference 12 months ago and is now developing a reputation as one of the better keepers in the division.

Possible Line-Up: (4-4-1-1) Maxwell; McLaughlin, Roberts, Pond, Chicksen; Evans, Schumacher, Murdoch, Morris; Sarcevic; Proctor.


As vital as Saturday’s win was, it would be all for nought if we were unable to get any kind of result here with Orient starting to pick up form. If we are going to save ourselves, we will need to pick up some momentum and these Saturday-Tuesday weeks can transform the short-term outlook of your season very quickly. Fleetwood is a tough place to go and get a result, they are one of those teams that can be hard to break-down once they take the lead. They will also be looking at this game as a chance to go into the play-off spots and their recent experiences of promotion will mean that they are used to grinding out results at this time of the season.

The goals are starting to come again under Tony Mowbray, so I would back us to score in this game. Given that Fleetwood can struggle in front of goal at times, I can see this finishing as a 1-1 draw.

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