Izale’s the hero as Fleetwood fire blanks
CRAWLEY were indebted to Izale McLeod’s late goal, but defeat was ultimately cruel on a lively Fleetwood Town side who dominated possession but lacked the killer touch, according to boss Graham Alexander.
Top-scorer McLeod burst through in the 77th minute before finishing with a cute chip over Chris Maxwell for his third league goal of the season as Crawley stopped a run of four straight defeats.
Josh Wright, Keith Keane and Mat Sadler – returning to the club on a one-month loan – all made their debuts as John Gregory rung the changes following his side’s 4-0 hammering at home to Rochdale.
The Cod Army were not without chances of their own and boss Alexander was left to bemoan his luck after the defeat.
“We created loads of chances but didn’t take them and we got stung,” he said.
“We have to find that ruthless edge to ourselves as I can’t think of a save Maxwell had to make.
“There was also a definite handball with their goal but we should have been out of sight by then and it should have been a consolation goal for them.”
Meanwhile, Gregory admitted that he had left his team “isolated” following that defeat, but assistant coach Paul Groves praised his side’s work ethic.
He said:“In some of the games we felt that we had been the better team, had more possession and more of a cutting edge.
“But we rode our luck a little bit and that’s what matters.
“The fans appreciate and understand how hard the players work and they put a real shift in week in, week out. Last week it all accumulated in a very difficult day for us.
“But you have to dust yourselves down and we managed to do that during the week.We made one or two additions and we put last week to bed.”
The visitors were the more innovative of the two teams in the opening exchanges and Fleetwood were nearly rewarded in the second minute. Matty Blair’s cross found an unmarked Stephen Dobbie, who should have made more of his header.
On the half hour, Dobbie and Jamie Proctor combined on the edge of the box but the former lost his footing and shot tamely.
The game was still in the balance when Gregory replaced Gavin Tomlin with Lewis Young with 15 minutes left. It proved a game-changer as moments later Jimmy Smith’s flick sent McLeod through to dink over the keeper.
Fleetwood had a fine chance to snatch a point in injury time but Pond failed to pick out Ball.
STAR MAN IZALE McLEO