Fleetwood Town suffered a penalty shootout defeat against Leicester City Under 21s, after they conceded a 95th minute goal to draw 2-2 in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night.
Town took a 2-0 lead through Chris Long and Conor McAleny, but Leicester were then let back into the game as defender Cian Bolger was shown a red card having being judged to have fouled Foxes striker Ryan Loft, who through on goal. Loft missed the resulting spot kick, but scored two late goals to send the game to penalties.
With the scores tied at 6-6, Town midfielder Kyle Dempsey saw his penalty sail over the crossbar, and it was Loft who smashed the ball into the top corner to claim the win for the Foxes. Town claim a point, with Leicester taking two are winning the shoot-out in the opening Group D fixture.
Head coach Joey Barton made ten changes to the side that draw 1-1 against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, with McAleny the only player to have featured in the starting line-up from the weekend. Academy trio James Hill, Dylan Boyle and Ryan Rydel were all on the bench.
Harrison Biggins had the Cod Army’s first chance of the match in the 7th minute. McAleny nicked the ball off Darnell Johnson near the corner flag, and pulled the ball back to Biggins on the edge of the box, and his shot drew a good low save from Leicester goalkeeper Viktor Johannson.
Just minutes later, McAleny was causing problems for the Leicester back four again when he used his pace to get ahead of Josh Knight. McAleny was closing in on goal, but he dragged his effort wide of the post.
Town continued to push for the opener when Bobby Grant whipped in a corner towards the back post, and Tommy Spurr headed the ball back across the box, but it was cleared for a corner. McAleny then struck one from distance, but his shot was straight at Johansson.
Leicester were inches away from breaking the deadlock in the 23rd minute when a well worked free-kick routine that started with Hamza Choudhury led to Danny Simpson delivering a deep cross into the box. Keirnan Dewsbury-Hall skipped past Gethin Jones and his strike from close range crashed off the underside of the crossbar, with Town goalkeeper Paul Jones well beaten.
The Foxes had another opportunity minutes later when Fuse Diabate, who looked threatening throughout the first half, latched onto a loose ball in the box, only for a brilliant block by Spurr to deny him an almost certain goal.
Town took the lead in the 33rd minute after a brilliant attacking move. Eddie Clarke played a wonderful ball forward to Long, he gave it to Grant, who squared it to the oncoming Jones, and his driven cross into the box was converted by Long from close range.
The referee blew for half time as Town went into the break with a 1-0 lead, and just minutes into the second half they doubled their advantage. Long was the provider this time as he teed up McAleny in the box, and his low strike was perfectly placed, hitting the inside of the post and into the net to make it 2-0.
Long then had a chance to double his tally in the 53rd minute as he was played through and hit a powerful low strike towards goal, but it was well saved by Johannson.
Leicester were then given a glorious opportunity to get back into the game when Loft was clean through on goal, and Bolger fouled the striker to concede a penalty. The referee deemed the challenge worthy of a red card for the defender, to the dismay of the home crowd.
The home supporters' jeers were soon turned to cheers when Loft stepped up himself to take the penalty, and it went horribly wrong as his effort sailed well wide of Jones’ left post.
Leicester brought on Calvin Ughelumba and Liandro Martis as they searched for ways to get back into the game. The Foxes enjoyed the majority of possession, and came close through Johnson. The ball fell to the defender in the box, but his effort was high and wide.
Leicester’s pressure paid off when full-back Ughelumba whipped in an inviting cross behind the Town back four, and Loft guided the ball into the bottom corner to get a goal back for the away side.
It was the other substitute Martis who delivered the ball that almost led to a Leicester equaliser. He swung in a wonderful cross from the right, and Dewsbury-Hall’s header was destined for the top corner, but Jones denied him with a stunning save.
The home crowd were exasperated at the announcement of five added minutes, and it proved costly as Leicester scored an equaliser in the 96th minute of the match. Dewsbury-Hall’s header flew over Jones, bounced back off the post, and Loft smashed the ball in from a yard out to send the game to penalties.
McAleny stepped up first for Town and converted into the bottom right corner, then Diamante leveled up for Leicester. Gethin Jones then placed his effort right in the corner, and Foxes captain Choudhury responded to make it 2-2. Town substitute Gerard Garner then converted, but Foxes substitute Callum Wright made it 3-3.
Harrison Biggins and Dewsbury-Hall both scored, but Clarke saw his effort crash back off the post for Fleetwood. Knight had a chance to win it for the Foxes, but his strike flew over the bar.
Spurr smashed his penalty off the underside of the bar and in, then Johnson scored to make it 5-5. Town substitute Nathan Sheron slotted his spot kick into the left corner, but Martis kept his cool to level it at 6-6.
Dempsey saw his effort fly over the bar, the Loft made amends for his earlier miss to expertly finished into the top corner, securing a 7-6 shootout win for Leicester.
Town still claim a point from the match in the competition, while Leicester go away with an extra point after the penalty shoot-out victory. It was defeat in the most frustrating of circumstances for Town, and having been just seconds away from the win, they came out second best on the night.
Town XI: Jones (GK), Clarke, Spurr, Bolger, Jones, Wallace © (Sheron 69’), Biggins, Dempsey, Grant (Garner 79’), McAleny. Long (Boyle 79’).
Subs not used: Cairns, Hunter, Hill, Rydel.
Leicester City Under 21s XI: Johannson (GK), Simpson, Johnson, Knight, Ramsey (Ughelumba 65’), Choudhury ©, Kaba Sherif (Martis 65’), Dewsbury-Hall, Diabate, Loft, Uche Rubio (Wright 72’).
Subs not used: Davies, Shade, Tee, Leshambela.