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League 1 Spotlight: Fleetwood Town

Tom Hancock profiles Joey Barton's side.

19 July 2018

After reaching the play-off semi-finals in 2016/17 under the management of Uwe Rösler, Fleetwood looked destined for relegation around the midway point of last season. John Sheridan took over and succeeded in steering them clear of the drop, but it’s a certain Joey Barton who will lead the Cod Army into the new campaign.

Following an inconsistent yet hardly poor first half 2017/18, Fleetwood fell apart just after the New Year, losing six league games in a row and eight in all competitions. They had to wait until late March to taste victory again, by which time Sheridan had come in and begun to stop the rot. A late surge of six wins in their last ten ensured survival by seven points in the end.

The Lancashire side have experienced a series of highs and lows since their promotion to League One in 2014, finishing a very respectable 10th in their maiden campaign in the third tier, before dropping to 19th the following season. Their fourth-placed finish a year later had them dreaming of the Championship, though, and they’ll be hoping to bounce back in similar fashion in 2018/19.

Last season: 14th in League One

In charge: Joey Barton
Fleetwood’s new boss needs little introduction. A well known figure in the game for all sorts of reasons, it seemed only a matter of time before Barton stepped into management. The second youngest manager in the top four divisions at 35, the former midfielder spent the first five years of his playing career with Manchester City, before spells with Newcastle, QPR, Marseille, Burnley and Rangers. He won one England cap, coming on as a late substitute for Frank Lampard in a 2007 friendly against Spain.

Star player: Ashley Eastham
Named Fans Player of the Year for 2017/18, the 27-year-old has become an integral member of the backline since signing from Rochdale two years ago. Last season may not have been particularly memorable for Fleetwood on the whole, but Eastham’s consistency and solidity in the centre of defence contributed significantly to their revival and survival. He also chipped in with three goals.

Key ins: Former Wales centre-back Craig Morgan has joined on a free from Wigan and been named captain. Central midfielder Jason Holt and experienced left-back Tommy Spurr have arrived on season-long loans from Rangers and Preston respectively.

Key outs: Stalwart centre-half Nathan Pond’s 15-year stay with the club has come to an end, with the skipper departing for newly promoted National League side Salford City. Defensive midfielder George Glendon has signed for Carlisle after being released.

EFL head-to-head:
Meetings: 4
Wycombe wins: 2
Fleetwood wins: 1
Draws: 1

First meeting: 13/10/2012 (League Two): Fleetwood 0-1 Wycombe (scorer: Bruno Andrade)

Last meeting: 21/04/2014 (League Two): Fleetwood 1-0 Wycombe

Last Wycombe win: 02/03/2013 (League Two): Wycombe 1-0 Fleetwood (scorer: Anthony Stewart)

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