Goals from Harrison Biggins and Tom Clarke gave Fleetwood Town a welcome victory against Gillingham at Highbury.
Biggins had sent the Cod Army in a goal to the good at the break before Clarke headed in their second on 65 minutes.
The Gills pulled one back through Robbie McKenzie but Town held on to climb out of League One’s bottom four.
Caretaker boss Stephen Crainey made one change from Fleetwood’s midweek win against Bolton Wanderers, Cian Hayes dropping to the bench to make way for Shayden Morris.
Harrison Biggins scores Fleetwood Town’s first goal Picture: Sam Fielding/PRiME Media Images Limited
A determined charge forward by Callum Morton allowed Danny Andrew to tease a delightful ball into the box.
Though Ged Garner got a glancing touch on the ball to turn it goalwards, Chapman reacted quickly and dived to his left to save.
That effort aside, the opening half-hour at Highbury was virtually excitement-free, with a tricky shot from Mustapha Carayol on 28 minutes the first time Town keeper Alex Cairns was called upon to do anything of note.
With such incidents few and far between in the opening half, it appeared odds-on that the break would come with the two sides goalless.
Nobody, however, thought to mention that to Biggins, who scored his third goal in two games on 38 minutes.
Paddy Lane’s ball in from the right caught the Gills’ defence on its heels and Biggins timed his run in behind to perfection, finishing from close range with Chapman helpless.
Crainey’s men came close to a second just before half-time but Morton couldn’t turn home a wayward drive along the drenched turf from Andrew.
Andrew tried his luck again a minute into the second half, going for goal with Chapman stranded after a clearance close to the touchline.
Rhys Bennett managed to rescue the visitors at the expense of a corner, which ended with Lane sending a shot down Chapman’s throat.
Frustration mounted in the Gillingham dugout with manager Steve Evans’ histrionics earning him a yellow card from referee Stephen Martin.
His mood was soured further when another Lane cross, from a short corner, was met by Clarke whose thumping header gave Town their second goal.
The visitors set up a nervous ending when McKenzie’s shot into the corner of Cairns’ net halved the deficit 15 minutes from time.
Nevertheless, Fleetwood held on for a vital win – the first time they have won back-to-back games in the league this season – to climb out of the relegation zone.
Former Fleetwood manager Joey Barton has denied being “hostile and aggressive” towards rival manager Daniel Stendel minutes before the then-Barnsley boss was injured in the tunnel following a match.
Barton, 39, was giving evidence at his trial at Sheffield Crown Court on Thursday, where he denies assaulting ex-Tykes boss Mr Stendel following his Fleetwood team’s 4-2 defeat to the South Yorkshire club in April 2019.
A jury has been shown footage of the handshake between the two managers at the end of the League One match at Barnsley’s Oakwell stadium.
Barton agreed that he is captured saying “stop being such a c***” to Mr Stendel.
Former Fleetwood manager Joey Barton
Asked by Ian Goldsack, prosecuting, whether this was “hostile and aggressive”, the defendant said: “No”.
He told the jury that before the mobile phone footage starts, he had gone over to Mr Stendel to shake hands and congratulate him.
Barton said he told him that they needed to control their playing staff or they both might face fines from the league of up to £10,000.
He told the jury that the Barnsley manager told him that “he knows” and that is when he replied: “Stop being such a c***.”
Barton told the jury that “industrial language” was an “unfortunate” reality in football.
Asked by Mr Goldsack whether that meant he had to use it, the defendant said: “I swear in life more than should. My grandma tells me off for it all the time.”
Barton denied the handshake itself was extremely firm and aggressive.
He told the jury of six women and five men: “It was just a normal handshake.”
On Monday, Mr Stendel told the jury how he was walking down the tunnel after Barnsley’s victory when he was knocked over by a push from behind.
He said he was knocked to the floor and his face hit the tunnel structure, injuring his face.
Mr Stendel said he looked up to see Barton jogging away.
Barnsley performance analyst intern Nathan Kirby said he saw Barton run past him and shoulder barge Mr Stendel.
On Thursday, Barton was asked by his barrister Simon Csoka QC: “Were you aware of coming into contact with anyone as you passed through the tunnel?”
The defendant said: “No.”
Barton told the jury how his assistant manager was booked during the second half of the match following an incident between the coaching staff of the two sides around the dugouts.
He said he then went to speak to Mr Stendel in his technical area because the league had given managers a strong warning that they could face large fines if they did not control their coaching staff at pitchside.
But Barton denied there was any hostility between the two men during the match.
He also denied an allegation from Mr Stendel that he shook hands with him aggressively at the previous fixture between the two sides, in Fleetwood in September 2018.
Mr Goldsack said to Barton: “Isn’t the truth of the matter you were quite angry and quite upset at the end of this game?”
The defendant said: “No.”
Finishing his cross-examination, the prosecutor said to the defendant: “You took the opportunity in that tunnel to barge your way through and knocked over Mr Stendel quite deliberately.”
Barton replied: “No.”
The prosecutor went on: “You knew full well at the time that that’s what you’d done.”
Barton again said: “No.”
The defendant, who is now Bristol Rovers manager, denies one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Sporting glasses and moustache, he gave evidence standing in the witness box, wearing a brown suit over black polo neck jumper.
The Bristol Rovers manager is accused of assaulting the then Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel while managing Fleetwood Town
A jury has been sworn in at the trial of former Fleetwood Town manager Joey Barton, who is accused of assaulting a rival manager.
The 39-year-old ex-England international appeared at Sheffield Crown Court today (November 26) for the start of his trial, which is expected to last a week.
He is accused of assaulting the then Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel in the tunnel at the South Yorkshire side’s Oakwell Stadium, on April 13 2019, when he was managing the visiting side Fleetwood Town.
A jury of seven women and five men was sworn in and sent home after being told the prosecution will open its case on Monday morning.
It was selected after each potential juror was asked a series of questions about football and the defendant.
These included “have you heard of Joey Barton” and “do you have any opinions about Joey Barton”.
Potential jurors were asked whether they were at the match, watched it on TV and whether they had read press reports of an “off-pitch incident at that game”.
They were also asked whether they supported either of the teams involved and whether they followed football closely.
Bespectacled Barton, who now manages Bristol Rovers, watched the jury selection process from the dock flanked by a security guard.
He was wearing a dark blue suit, a lighter blue shirt with matching handkerchief and a dark tie.
He denies one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, adjourned the trial until Monday and Barton was given unconditional bail.
Simon Grayson believes the time has come to “press the reset button” at Fleetwood Town and use their free week for a fresh start.
Some good results and nine defeats by a single goal this season had led Town’s head coach to believe they weren’t far from turning the corner.
However, last Tuesday’s 4-1 home humbling by Accrington Stanley has convinced him the time is right to start afresh.
The Town boss said: “I was speaking with Ian Miller and he said that, when you are losing by the odd goal, you keep thinking you are not too far away.
Fleetwood Town head coach Simon Grayson Picture: Sam Fielding/PRIME Media Images Limited
Fleetwood Town handed Papa John’s Trophy trip to Bolton Wanderers
“Then you get spanked like we were and you have to press the reset button and focus again on what you have to do better.
“We have a genuine bunch of lads. I like working with them and they have done reasonably well so far but now we have to knuckle down and show heart, desire and grit to get up the table.”
It’s the perfect opportunity to ‘reset’ as Fleetwood don’t return to action until Morecambe visit Highbury on Saturday.
Asked how the 10-day break between fixtures would be spent, Grayson said: “The players might not be getting as many days off as they first thought.
“We’ll get the balance right. We have a clear week to focus on what we need to be doing to get better individually and collectively as a team.
“We have played well this season and given some of the top teams a really good game, like Wigan and Wycombe, but Tuesday just wasn’t acceptable and we have to eradicate sloppy mistakes, sloppy play, and we’ll certainly be doing that.”
Last Tuesday’s match may have been between two clubs who had already qualified for the next round of the Papa John’s Trophy but Grayson insisted that was no excuse for Fleetwood’s lack of fighting spirit.
He added: “Football is played in the head and with that thing that’s inside your chest, your heart. You need to have hunger, desire and passion.
“It’s immaterial that it was a Papa John’s Trophy game. It was another football match that we needed to win and were desperate to win, but we didn’t show any of those qualities you need to in the second half.
“In the first half I thought we were all right and competed well but it was too easy for Accrington for their third goal. Once that goal went in, we just seemed to accept that it was the Papa John’s Trophy and we’d qualified already.”
A stunning second-half comeback saw Wigan recover from two goals down to go top of League One and deny Fleetwood a badly-needed and landmark win.
Danny Andrew’s sixth goal of the season fired Simon Grayson’s side into an early lead.
Alex Cairns produced two superb saves to keep the advantage intact.
Callum Morton puts Fleetwood two goals up from the penalty spot before the Wigan fightback at Highbury
So, when Callum Morton, converted a 52nd-minute penalty, Town were firm favourites to register a first ever league win over Leam Richardson’s promotion-chasers.
Instead, Fleetwood conceded three times in 10 minutes and were unable to produce a comeback of their own as they had done against Wycombe four days earlier.
Goals from Callum Lang, Will Keane and Curtis Tilt sealed Wigan’s win and kept Town in the bottom three.
Wigan’s visit was the second of four successive home fixtures for Fleetwood in three separate competitions.
But a four-game winless run ensures the upcoming FA Cup and Papa John’s Trophy games against Burton Albion and Accrington Stanley have become much secondary in importance to climbing clear of relegation.
However, there was great expectation when Andrew fired Fleetwood into a seventh-minute lead.
Tendayi Darikwa’s foul on Paddy Lane was belatedly punished after referee Ross Joyce took instruction from linesman Paul Newhouse.
Latics’ management team protested in vain and Andrew curled in a left-foot free-kick from 18 yards. Dead-ball specialist Andrew has scored in four of his last five home games in League One, though his celebrations in front of the away end did not go down well with the travelling Latics supporters
Joe Garner’s 19th-minute header from Lane’s cross wasn’t far off doubling the home advantage. In between, Wigan showed their threat with Charlie Wyke heading wide from a Tom Bayliss centre.
Cairns was alert to punch away James McClean’s in swinging corner before another inviting delivery almost yielded an equaliser.
The Irishman’s raking left foot centre was headed goalwards by Wyke only for Cairns’ leg to deny the ex-Sunderland striker. Will Keane’s follow-up header was poor and wide.
Cairns rescued Town again after 33 minutes, tipping away Darikwa’s blistering 25-yard drive before the Latics’ skipper was booked for scything down Morton.
Andrew’s similar challenge on Bayliss soon after resulted in the same yellow outcome.
But despite incessant Wigan pressure through to half-time, Fleetwood kept their lead intact.
That stout defending was rewarded when Morton drilled in his spot-kick after he had been upended by keeper Ben Amos chasing down McClean’s ill-advised back-pass.
But 2-0 became 2-1 10 minutes later as Callum Lang squeezed in a low shot from the tightest of angles when Cairns appeared to misread the weight of Bayliss’ through-ball.
And Latics had already hit the post, via a Fleetwood boot, when Keane headed in from Wyke and McClean’s build-up.
Roared on by their 1,000 strong following, Wigan claimed the win when Tilt rose unmarked to convert Max Power’s corner.
Town’s Under-18s host Tranmere Rovers in the FA Youth Cup first round on Wednesday Kick-off at Highbury is 7pm.
Fleetwood: Cairns, Hill, Clarke, Andrew, Johnson, Matete (G Garner 78), Camps, Batty, Lane (Morris 73), J Garner, Morton; Subs not used: Crellin, McLaughlin, Clark, Biggins, Pilkington
Fleetwood Town owner Andy Pilley has made his first appearance in Crown Court to strongly deny allegations of fraud and money laundering charges involving his energy business.
Mr Pilley, 51, of Thornton, is accused of mis-selling energy supply contracts through his firm, Business Energy Solutions (BES), and posting fake customer comments online.
His sister, Michelle Davidson, 48, who also works for BES, faces similar charges following an eight-year investigation by Trading Standards.
This morning at Preston Crown Court, a lawyer indicated that the Fleetwood Town chairman, whose energy business is the club’s main sponsor, would plead not guilty to four charges, should the case not be dismissed in due course.
Fleetwood Town boss Andy Pilley
He stands accused of two counts of running a business with the intention of defrauding creditors or others by allowing the fraudulent mis-selling of energy supply contracts.
He also stands accused of allowing fraudulent mis-selling by sales representatives, and being concerned with the retention of criminal property – specifically the proceeds from the mis-sold contracts.
His trial, which will begin on a date to be announced, with the earliest possible date being October 2022, is expected to last three months.
Ms Davidson, of Holmefield Avenue, Cleveleys, will also stand trial, facing one charge of running a company with the intent to defraud.
Lee Qualter, 51, also of Holmefield Avenue, faces the same charge.
Joel Chapman, 37, of Kingston Road, Willerby, Yorkshire, faces two charges of aiding false representation, and intending a customer to cause a loss or be at risk of loss.
All four defendants will remain on while awaiting trial.
Mr Laidlaw, defending Pilley, Davidson and Chapman, called on Judge Knowles to fix a date for the hearing at the earliest possible opportunity.
He said: “From the perspective of the defendants, this investigation now enters its eighth year. We have people of good character and their reputations are at stake. With one exception, they provide work within the towns where they are employed. A good deal turns upon the decisions that we would hope be made by a judge at some point early next year, and to hear that this case would simply fall to the wayside would be a deeply distressing message to hear.”
Judge Knowles told the defendants: “I’m sorry that I’m not giving you a date for your trial today, or arranged for the applications that you wish to make to stay proceedings or have charges dismissed to be heard. I do understand the distress and anxiety that you feel and no doubt you will have had today fixed in your mind. But me overarching concern is that we get a trial date which will hold at the earliest possible date, and that’s why I’m not giving a trial date today.”
The future of Fleetwood Town Football Club is safe and secure despite the ongoing fuel crisis, its energy entrepreneur owner told fans.
Andy Pilley, whose gas and electricity firm BES employs hundreds of people on the Fylde coast and is the main sponsor at Highbury, said his tactic of buying energy in advance has made the company immune to the rocketing prices, which have soared by 250 per cent this year.
The 51-year-old, who has overseen a rapid rise through the leagues in recent years, said: “From a personal point of view it does not affect us at all because we hedge [a financial strategy aimed at reducing the risk of loss caused by fluctuating prices, in this case buying enough gas to cover each contract when it is taken out] in advance the entirely of our contracts so it makes no difference to us whatsoever.
“We have no requirement to buy so we are on the sidelines looking on and we can see these incredibly high prices but, thankfully, we are not getting involved at all.
SITTING PRETTY: BES boss Andy Pilley said buying ahead means his firm won’t be dragged into the ongoing price ‘crisis’
“But that’s not the same for many, many suppliers out there. I think there’s lots – possibly the majority of domestic suppliers – that will be bleeding very, very heavily right now.”
Mr Pilley said some energy firms “will roll the dice” on the wholesale cost of gas and electricity and “they hope it will be favourable” and expect, at worst, marginal fluctuations.
He said: “What’s happened here is, anyone who has not purchased the full cover that is required for their customers’ contracts, is going to find themselves in a situation whereby their ins are nowhere near what their outs are.
“That’s causing people to be in an insolvent situation and subsequently they are going to have to close their businesses, and I fear that many people will lose their jobs.”
Many energy companies in the UK have already folded amid the ongoing price chaos, with fears as many as 60 could collapse by the end of the year.
While Mr Pilley, who lives in Thornton, said Fleetwood Town’s growth has been “in no small way due to the success” of his companies, including BES, overseas calls centres, and merchant services firm Card Saver, he insists it isn’t “anywhere near as reliant on my utilities business as what it used to be”.
He added: “We are running on a much smaller wages bill and we have a lot more asset value in the football club than we used to have.
“My message [to fans] would be, ‘Fleetwood will not be affected at all by this because BES is absolutely fine. The way we run our business has made us absolutely safe and we are not affected by these ridiculous prices. We have already purchased ahead.’
“What I would say is I feel for anyone who is going to lose their job – who is at an energy brokerage or maybe at a supplier who has been gambling on their wholesale cost – but it won’t affect Fleetwood and it won’t affect BES.”
Mr Pilley, who lamented the “terrible state of affairs” was on an industry round-table call with Kwasi Kwarteng on Wednesday afternoon and agreed the situation is currently a “crisis”.
Ahead of the call, he said: “Really, my grievance with the way the Government deals with the energy sector is that the cost of any failed supplier is passed on to successful suppliers and … that’s the message I will be putting onto the Secretary of State – that’s it’s totally unfair that if somebody runs their business in a casino-style, betting on the wholesale price, if and when that business fails, it shouldn’t be passed on to successful businesses who don’t deserve to be saddled with that cost.”
Mr Pilley said BES “wouldn’t want any customers from the failed suppliers right now” because “there’s credit balances that you have to service and there’s contract prices which are simply uncommercial so I think they will go to the Big Six [British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON UK, Npower, Scottish Power, and SSE]”.
He continued: “The problem for the Big Six is that they are going to be hit with huge costs and I think that’s where the Government is going to have to intervene and spend the taxpayers’ hard-earned money in making that right for the person who has to inherit these failed businesses.”
Mr Pilley said there “is going to be a lot of implications here for an awful lot of people”, including businesses and households, as well as those working in the industry who face losing their jobs.
It comes as the head of the regulator Ofgem warned that “well above” hundreds of thousands of customers may be left in limbo as their energy supplier goes bust in coming months.
Jonathan Brearley declined to give an estimate when in front of MPs on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee.
He said: “We do expect a large number of customers to be affected, we’ve already seen hundreds of thousands of customers affected, that may well go well above that.
“It’s very hard for me to put a figure on it.”
It emerged this week that the Government and Ofgem was warned as early as two years ago the energy sector is fragile, according to the chief executive of supplier trade body Energy UK.
Emma Pinchbeck said: “I took this job a year ago. When I was hired, the chairman of Energy UK said that your biggest challenge is going to be the vulnerability of the retail market.
“I know that for a year or more before that my team have been making the case to the regulator and the Government that the sector is fragile.”
Mr Kwarteng said preparations were being made for gas prices to remain high for some time, despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson describing the problem as “temporary”.
He told the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee: “I think ‘temporary’ means that it’s a position where the price has spiked considerably… I think it has quadrupled in the last six months, seven months.
“You would expect normally that the price would revert to the mean, it’s not something that we think is going to be sustainable.
“But, of course, we have to prepare for longer-term high prices.”
Fleetwood Town’s owner and chairman Andy Pilley appeared before Blackpool Magistrates’ Court this morning after being charged with fraud and money laundering offences allegedly involving his energy firm.
The 51-year-old’s sister, who also works for Business Energy Solutions (BES), faces similar charges, which followed an eight-year investigation by Trading Standards.
Prosecutor Denise Breen-Lawton told the court the “victims” of his alleged “multi-million pound fraud” were “small businesses”.
Mr Pilley, of Thornton, who has guided Fleetwood from obscurity into League One, runs BES, which is the club’s main sponsor.
Fleetwood Town’s owner and chairman Andy Pilley arrives at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court on the morning of Wednesday, September 22, 2021. He is charged with fraud and money laundering offences linked to his energy firm (Picture: Kelvin Stuttard for JPIMedia)
He is accused of running a business with the intention of defrauding creditors or others by allowing the fraudulent mis-selling of energy supply contracts.
He is further charged with money laundering, allowing fraudulent mis-selling by sales representatives, and being concerned with the retention of criminal property – specifically the proceeds from the mis-sold contracts.
Mr Pilley, who strongly denied any wrongdoing, faces a final charge of fraud relating to allegations he fabricated content about his own company’s successes on websites like MoneySavingExpert.com, Inspired Energy, and EnergiSave.
Lee Qualter, 51, of Holmefield Avenue, Cleveleys, faces one allegation of running a company with the intent to defraud.
Mr Pilley’s sister Michelle Davidson, 48, also of Holmefield Avenue, faces the same charge.
A fourth defendant, Joel Chapman, 37, of Kingston Road, Willerby, Yorkshire, is accused of aiding false representation by coercing staff to dupe customers.
He is also charged with intending a customer to cause a loss or be at risk of loss.
Prosecutors successfully applied for the case, which is expected to last for three months, to be heard at Preston Crown Court.
Mr Pilley, Mr Chapman, and Ms Davidson gave no indication of a plea.
Mr Qualter pleaded not guilty.
All were bailed to appear at the higher court on Wednesday, October 20.
Anthony Pilkington can give a youthful Fleetwood Town side the benefits of his experience this season.
That’s the view of assistant boss Barry Nicholson, who singled out the winger for praise after Tuesday’s 4-1 win over Leicester City Under-21s in Town’s opening Papa John’s Trophy group game.
A summer signing following a season in India, Pilkington has featured in all seven Fleetwood games so far this season but has started only one of their five League One fixtures.
Anthony Pilkington’s cool-headed play was a positive influence for Fleetwood’s youngsters
But the 33-year-old former Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town star can be a steadying influence in Fleetwood Town’s youthful side, and he certainly was playing from the start against the young Foxes.
Nicholson said: “He was chomping at the bit to get in the team and his performance was one of the better ones on the night.
“He showed some lovely touches. He always brings a calmness to our play and brings other people into play.
“His performance was excellent and I am sure he will be in the manager’s thoughts for the next game against Rotherham.”
But Nicholson believes Pilkington will be far from the only player to have given head coach Simon Grayson food for thought in Tuesday’s comprehensive Highbury win.
“All parts of the performances we are pleased about,” he added: “The start was important. We showed in the first five minutes that we were in control of the game and we went on from there.
“We probably would have liked to have played again off the back of this result,” added Nicholson, referring to the fact Town don’t return to action until a week on Saturday after Wigan Athletic called off this weekend’s scheduled fixture due to their international call-ups.
“But we have had a lot of games since the start of the season. It is a crazy schedule, so I am sure a few of us will be ready for a little break before we get back in to prepare for Rotherham.”