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Match Reports

📝 Match Report: City 1 Fleetwood Town 1

City claim a point as Fleetwood come from behind

24 February 2024

Match Reports

📝 Match Report: City 1 Fleetwood Town 1

City claim a point as Fleetwood come from behind

24 February 2024

Exeter City were left frustrated as a dominant Fleetwood Town performance in the second half almost cost the Grecians a point SJP.

It was a game of two halves as City looked comfortable going into the break 1-0 up, courtesy of Vincent Harper. Fleetwood came out a different side in the second half, having made four changes at the break, and clawed back a leveller through Promise Omochere

City’s competition were deep in the relegation battle, sitting 23rd in the League One table. Although City were nine places above the Cods, they shared a similar form going into this match as both teams had won two in their five prior games. 

Manager Gary Caldwell named five changes as Harper, Ilmari Niskanen, Mo Eisa, Reece Cole, and Ryan Woods entered the starting XI, with the latter making his first start for the Grecians. Notable Fleetwood players include Jayden Stockley, who returns to St James Park for the first time since leaving City in 2019. 

Cole kicked City off, playing towards the St James Road Stand. City quickly formed an attack with intricate passing between Cole and Tom Carroll, sending Niskanen to the by-line to win a corner. The subsequent corner was played short, a one-two between Carroll and Sweeney which eventually found Carroll in an offside position. An unfruitful attack but a strong statement of intent from the Grecians. 

City continued to create some decent chances over the next twenty minutes, dominating possession in the middle third of the pitch, with Eisa getting a couple of shots off from range.  

The Grecians’ efforts were rewarded midway through the first half as Harper scored his first competitive goal for City. Cole delivered the ball towards Eisa from just inside the area. Rather than take it on himself, Eisa let the ball run to Harper who was bounding towards the six-yard box. Harper smashed home from close range and wheeled away in celebration, capitalising on the damp surface to perform an impressive knee slide in front of the Adam Stansfield Stand. 

Fleetwood slowly grew into the game as the first half went on, creating two shooting opportunities, both of which resulted in the ball going off-target. The first was smashed over the bar and the second went notably wayward, courtesy of a miscued shot from Ronan Coughlan, leaving the score at 1-0 as the teams returned to the tunnel for the break. 

Fleetwood came out flying in the second half as their manager, Charlie Adam made four changes. Carl Johnston fired from close range, denied by a diving save from Vil Sinisalo to win a corner. A sloppy pass from the Fleetwood defence found Cole with the ball at his feet and the Fleetwood keeper off his line. Cole tried his luck, shooting from inside the centre circle, although he was unable to beat the keeper. Cole’s shot was on target but never looked like going in as he failed to lift the ball off the ground and over Jay Lynch. 

The Big Bank, who might have been looking forward to seeing some chances at their end in a continuation of the first half, instead had to endure a prolonged period of squinting and wincing as the ball ricocheted around Sinisalo’s box.

City were undoubtedly on the backfoot as Fleetwood peppered their defence from close range. A Fleetwood goal was coming, but thankfully it was ruled out for a foul on Sinisalo. The linesmans flag waved but this did not stop the Cods from creating chance after chance as City’s defenders threw their bodies at the oncoming barrage. 

Despite being under the cosh, Caldwell’s first change of the game was a positive one as Sonny Cox replaced Cole. The substitute almost paid off straight away as Carroll released Eisa on the wing who crossed the ball low, just out of reach of Cox. The ball trickled through to the other side of the box, meaning Niskanen could try his hand at finding Cox in the box, but the Finn’s cross ended up in Lynch’s clutch. 

Fleetwood had another opportunity shortly after as Sinisalo punched the ball, looking for safety, but finding the feet of Boson Lawal who fired the ball well over the bar. Fleetwood’s luck would soon change as Omochere was played through on goal, creating a 2-on-1 as he had Coughlan to his left.

Omochere could not pass to Coughlan as he had strayed into an offside position, leaving Omochere to go for goal himself. Sinisalo got a touch on the ball but not enough to stop it from heading towards the goal mouth. A controversial moment occurred as Coughlan, who was in an offside position, bounded towards the ball to tap it in. The ball must have crossed the line before Coughlan got his touch as the goal was awarded and Fleetwood levelled. Sinisalo received a yellow for dissent as he questioned the referee’s decision. 

City had the ball in the net at the other end shortly after, courtesy of Will Aimson, but somewhere in the 6-yard box skirmish the referee’s assistant flagged for a misdemeanour, signifying the ball had gone out from the cross. The goal was disallowed, and the Grecian celebrations were short-lived. The disallowed goal sparked belief in the City ranks as they started to launch attacks towards a rapturous Big Bank.  

The fourth official indicated five added minutes as suddenly City were pushing for a winner in a game that could have been sealed in the first half. Despite the ball sitting in the six-yard box on a couple of occasions, there were no City men to smash it home. The game ended 1-1 as the teams shared the points. 

City’s next match is at Peterborough away on March 2nd. 

Exeter City: Sinisalo, Sweeney (C), Diabate (Aimson 75’), Jules, Harper, Niskanen, Carroll, Cole (Cox 64’), Woods (Purrington 75’), Harris, Eisa (Wildschut 75’). 

Unused Subs: MacDonald, Watts, Rankine. 

Fleetwood Town: Lynch, Johnston, Boyes, Wiredu, Lawal, Campbell, Kilkenny, Stockley, Heneghan, Graydon, Coughlan. 

Subs: McMullan, Mayor, Broom, Samuels, Omochere, Rooney, Patterson. 

Referee: Sam Purkiss. 

Attendance: 6,547 (99 away)


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