Fleetwood Town 2-0 Ipswich Town: Blues second best in every department as Cook's men slump to defeat
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Ipswich Town were second best throughout as they went down at Fleetwood.
Paul Cook’s side never got going at Highbury Stadium, struggling to put together meaningful passages of play, lacking ideas and being unable to create any real chances until the closing stages as they slumped to defeat.
Former Town loanee Callum Connolly gave the hosts the lead as he headed home on nine minutes, before Ged Garner doubled the advantage a little over 10 minutes into the second half.
From there, the game was up for Ipswich.
The Blues didn’t test Alex Cairns until the 71st minute, when they also forced their first corner of the game, but never really looked like scoring as they fell to defeat.
Fleetwood were much the better side throughout, keeping the ball better, dominating the physical battle and executing manager Simon Grayson’s gameplan significantly better than the Ipswich players managed Cook’s.
The loss sees Cook’s men drop out of the play-off places, to seventh, heading into Saturday’s game at managerless Portsmouth, who themselves dropped to 10th following their defeat at Peterborough.
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Cook made one change to the side which started the Blues’ victory over Plymouth on Saturday, with Cole Skuse coming into the side for his first start in more than a year, replacing Flynn Downes.
Downes, who has already had his season heavily impacted by a knee injury, faces between four and six weeks out with a hamstring strain, suffered during the first half of Saturday’s victory over the Pilgrims.
The game started in frenetic fashion, with the ball pinging around and neither side truly able to get the ball down and produce patterns of play. Town had a couple of dangerous moments, with Alan Judge nearly freeing Kayden Jackson on two occasions with dangerous balls, but the visitors soon fell behind.
Nine minutes were on the clock when James Hill wound up his long throw from the right sideline, with his delivery enticing an Ipswich defence which failed to attack the ball well enough, allowing Connolly to head home against his former club.
Town looked rattled, after falling behind early, with Wes Burns the next to try his luck for the hosts as he shot wide from the edge of the penalty area.
Still Town couldn’t settle, with their only real method of invention seeing hopeful balls put over the top for Jackson to chase, but time and again they bounced through to the goalkeeper.
One Town attack did see Edwards scuttle away from his man down the left flank and take the ball to the byline, where he pulled it back for Jackson who turned the ball into the side netting from the tightest of angles.
The Blues’ hosts were more measured in their play, with Sam Finley’s excellently-flighted ball nearly finding Hill in space at the far post and Ged Garner so nearly beating Tomas Holy, only for Town’s Czech keeper to bizarrely stop the Fleetwood man’s goal-bound effort between his feet.
The opening period ended with Gwion Edwards booked for a wild lunge on Fleetwood’s Jordan Rossiter, which could perhaps have merited a harsher punishment, though the Welshman was worse off following the tackle as he limped his way to the dressing room.
Cook had much to ponder at the interval, following the scrappiest of halves, while Josh Harrop replaced Edwards with the winger unable to continue.
The hosts had the first chance of the second period, with Isaac Vassell heading over the top before the striker so nearly profited from a Skuse slip in the centre-circle, only to fire over the top after being played in by Garner.
Andre Dozzell’s crooked clearance nearly looped into his own goal, before Fleetwood soon found their second. Dozzell was unwittingly involved again, with the ball flicking off the back of his head before Dozzell slid Garner in, for the striker to finish superbly into the far corner.
Vassell kept causing Ipswich problems, firing over again and forcing two good saves from Holy, with the Town keeper needing to bail out Kenlock with a good save after the full-back had presented the ball straight to Wes Burns.
That was enough for Cook, who withdrew Kenlock as one of three changes, which saw Stephen Ward, Jack Lankester and Aaron Drinan enter the game as Parrott and Jackson departed.
Ward got into the box soon after coming on, testing the goalkeeper following a good one-two with Alan Judge, before Toto Nsiala had a good downward header blocked away, as Ipswich desperately tried to get back into the contest.
The foothold never came as Cook’s side fell to a disappointing defeat. The Town boss will have learnt plenty about his players tonight.
Fleetwood: Cairns, Andrew, Connolly, Hill; Holgate, Batty, Finley (J Morris, 85), Rossiter (Biggins, 78), Burns; Vassell, Garner (Saunders, 90)
Subs: Coleman, Duffy, Rydel, M Morris
Ipswich Town: Holy; Chambers, Nsiala, Wilson, Kenlock (Ward, 66); Skuse (Bishop, 81), Dozzell; Judge, Edwards (Harrop, 46), Parrott (Lankester, 66); Jackson (Drinan, 66)
Subs: Cornell, Bennetts