Super Lambs show at league leaders
04 February 2012
With the cold and inevitably snowy weather causing decimation amongst much of the rest of the football fixture list there were no problems at Highbury Avenue whose pitch covering had worked an absolute treat as The Lambs travelled to face league leaders Fleetwood Town. The impressive stadium showed what could be done with concerted investment and that was starting to bear fruit on the pitch as the home side hoped to go four points clear of second placed Wrexham if they recorded their 16th unbeaten game.
Marcus Laws side though would be out to repeat their heroics from the previous Saturday at Cambridge and Law had added to his squad during the week bringing in Jean-Paul Marna and Charlie Reece on loan from Bristol Rovers and both started as the two changes from the XI that started at the Abbey Stadium with Green unable to play due to injury and Gudger taking a place on the bench.
To say that it is cold in Fleetwood is an understatement even with umpteen layers on and a nice cup of steaming coffee available, so when the two teams run out in shorts and shirts no one on the terraces is envying them so there's no surprise that everyone wants the game to start as soon as the formalities are out of the way.
The home side get the game underway, and with only a small amount of segregated area they do so with a lot of the crowd changing ends.
And with one minute and one second gone, it was one to the home side when Vardy crossed from the right byline and Mangan finished with a neat volley a few yards out and Hedge unable to to a thing about it. (0-1, 2 mins).
Then a penalty was awarded against Oji on 7, who bundled Vardy to the floor in the area and Vieira stepped to fire low to Hedge's left but he found the keeper able to claw the ball away and Mangan followed up but was unable to put the ball into the net from a tight angle.
No to be deterred from their quest after a shaky start Tamworth put pressure on the home goal and won a corner from which Patterson spun and fired home to the delight of the small band of travelling fans (1-1, 9 mins)
Francis was forced head behind for a Fleetwood corner on 12 and Macnutly tried to direct a far post header towards the target but overstretched and Hedge restarted play.
Hedge was forced out of his comfort zone on 14 as the ball travelled dangerously towards his box and Fleetwood tried to camp out in the Lambs half, but Macnulty's final ball was too strong for anyone to catch but they won possession back again and Oji conceded a corner which Vieira headed over the bar via a deflection for another flag kick which Tamworth did enough to clear.
Around the 20 minute mark, Courtney had to be on his mettle to deny a header from Vardy, and the same player tried a delicate chip into the near corner in the next move, but Hedge, hoping to play at the same ground for England C at the end of February, caught the dinked shot.
Courtney lost the ball to Mangan on the left on 22 and his resulting shot went out for a corner which Francis headed over his own bar for another which made it's way to Vardy and he tried a curling shot at goal from the left of the box but again Hedge was equal to the effort and the striker needed treatment before play restarted.
Some tricky play from the home side resulted in Cavanagh trying a dip from 20 yards with his right foot on 26, but he was off target from the right of the box and on 28 Town won another flag kick which was worked out by Mangan and Vardy and ended with Vieira heading over the target from 12 yards.
On 32 Davies tipped a cross come shot away from danger following some determined play from Marna on the right of the area and while this brought some noise from the Lambs fans it only made Fleetwood more determined.
So, they pushed to the other end and Pond forced Hedge to tip over his bar with a powerful header from close range.
A on field formation shuffle by the Lambs line up around 35 and Patterson moved to the left side of a five man midfield leaving Marna on his own just in front but the next action came down the other end as Fleetwood once again moved the ball around well but failed to escape the off side trap.
Then, on 40, Barrow made it 2-1 to The Lambs with a speculative long range low shot which Davies totally failed to get to with what appeared should have been an easy two handed stop. (2-1, 40 mins)
Once again the home side pushed forward and threatened, winning a corner on the right but nothing came from it and three minutes added time was shown, along with a yellow card for Oji.
Reece made headway into the home box shortly before the break and forced a last ditch clearance and Tamworth strove to ensure they ended the half on top, which they did.
Tamworth got the second half underway and Patterson made a good run into the box but Fleetwood soon came knocking on Hedge and Francis headed behind Vardy's cross for a corner on 47. Pond rose highest, but his header flashed over the cross bar and into the previously empty terracing behind the goal.
On 50, Goodall put an inviting ball into the box from the left but Rose was unable to divert it into the goal at the far post and before play could really get back underway again he was replaced by Brodie.
The home side won yet another corner on 54 and Vardy sent his right sided flag kick into the box only for Mangan to see Hedge to push it away and the follow up shot was missed by Brodie, but Vardy slammed home from the right of the box to level the tie. (2-2, 54 mins)
Marna was booked for a niggly tackle in the centre circle on Fowler on 58.
On 59 Pond received the ball on the edge of the Tamworth box but transpired to lift his shot over the bar and into the room of the stand behind the goal and on 62 Vardy tried to set up his teammates with a floated pass to the far post from the right wing, but it was too long and the chance was gone.
The Lambs continued to match their ‘illustrious' hosts for strength and obvious willingness to win but were forced to play the remaining 25 minutes man short when Oji tangled with Brodie and saw yellow for the second time in the game.
As the cold winter rain came down on Highbury Marna made way for Gudger and Brodie missed a sitter when the ball rebounded through the Lambs back four and the striker pushed his shot past the left hand upright from the right of the box.
Hedge was well protected by his defence on 74 after Goodall struck for goal on 74 and the ball ricocheted around the box before The Lambs won a freekick at the other end. McDonald struck for goal hoping for a repeat of his Alfreton freekick but curled it just past the near post.
On 78, Brodie's header at the near post came off McKoy and went out for a corner which was headed goalward and struck the post but the effort wouldn't have counted anyway as it was flicked on from an offside position.
Vardy cut into the box from the right wing and made space for himself to fire at goal on 81 only to miss the target with a rising right footed shot and Goodall then saw his right footed drive deflected behind for a corner by McKoy.
Fleetwood continued to press hard, but The Lambs continued to defend stronger and in a rare foray forward Cavanagh picked up a booking for upending Patterson as he advanced down the right wing.
Christie came on for Reece with five to go and on an increasingly slippy and tricky surface both sides did their best to play attractive football although the majority of the play was, as expected, in the Tamworth half of the field.
As the clock ticked towards the 90th minute Fleetwood won another corner and Hedge gathered the deep cross and Hedge prevented Vardy's left footed strike from the left of the box with his feet.
Five minutes added time was shown at the end of the game and Patterson launched a long high bouncing ball forwards for Christie to chase down but Davies was always going to get to it first.
Tensions were running high urging the seconds to pass as Vieira's header cannoned back off Courtney at the far post and Patterson hoofed the corner clear and brought Davies high up field to push the ball up field, but the whistle eventually blew on a fine Lambs performance.
Hedge, Courtney, Francis, Oji, Marna (Gudger 70), Reece (Christie 85), McDonald, Patterson, Isaac, Barrow, McKoy
Subs: Reynolds, Shariff, Headley
Yellow Cards: Oji 45 + 65, Marna 58
Red Cards: Oji 65
Fleetwood Town Team:
Davies, Beeley, Macnulty, Pond, Vieira, Goodall , Mangan, Cavanagh, Fowler, Rose (Brodie 51), Vardy
Subs: Maguire, Seddon, Atkinson, Stevenson
Yellow Cards: Cavanagh 82
Referee: Mr. K. Evans