Witton Albion 0 Fleetwood Town 3
WITTON were outclassed by the title rivals on Monday.
Before the biggest UniBond League gate of the season they turned in their worst performance of the campaign.
They have time left and a big enough points advantage to erase the memory, but what a chance they missed.
Victory would have made Fleetwood’s season long chase all but over. A draw would have done nicely.
But they did not stand up to their robust visitors and were not sharp enough all round. Their moves were in slow motion and easily rebuffed, if they did fall apart of their own accord.
With Rod Thornley on international physio duty, manager Jim Vince opted for an unfamiliar five-man midfield. They did not look comfortable with the plan, which manager Jim Vince acknowledged by switching Steve Brodie to play alongside Adam Warlow.
By then the damage was done. Fleetwood were quicker to every 50-50 ball and too many Albion passes rated no better than that.
They were alert. In footballer’s parlance, they were up for it.
Witton seemed to have the attitude that all would come good because it always has before.
They paid for it dearly. In the 10th minute Kieran Walmsley cut in off the right, benefited from Brian Pritchard’s lapse in concentration and belted a bottom corner beauty.
Albion offered nothing in response and when Jon Kennedy fumbled Jamie Milligan’s long ranger and was not quick enough in his recovery Andy Bell pounced for the second goal, in the 35th minute.
Kevin Rapley replaced Dave MacPherson at half-time and Witton’s midfield was weakened without much being added to the attack.
They might have got back into contention in the 68th minute when Mark Peers’ free kick looked locked on the top corner of the net only veer away at the last second.
Otherwise Fleetwood kept things tight and waited. Phil Denney brought a good save from Kennedy, but the goalkeeper and defenders were all bypassed by Milligan’s 77th minute effort and he was credited with the goal, though the last touch was from Alex Brown’s despairing header on the line.
Walmsley cracked a 25 yarder against a post, with Peers close to a consolation with a rasping shot that Danny Hurst turned over the bar.
Albion now have eight point leader, but Fleetwood have three games in hand.
WITTON: Kennedy; Coo (Kearney 43), Barras, Pritchard, Brownhill; Peers, Brown, MacPherson (Rapley 45), Lloyd (Evans 78), Brodie; Warlow.