Fleetwood Town safely avoided any banana skins in front of a crowd of 1696 at Highbury and advanced to the Second Round of the FA Cup at the expense of non-league Bromley.
By David Mitchell
Fleetwood Town safely avoided any banana skins in front of a crowd of 1696 at Highbury and advanced to the Second Round of the FA Cup with Budweiser at the expense of non-league Bromley.
Town had the game under control well before half time with three goals, one from David Ball and two penalties from Man of the Match Jon Parkin, before resisting a spirited revival from the visitors after the break.
Town returned to the FA Cup as Goliath rather than David. After a series of giant-killing acts over the last few seasons, Micky Mellon’s side came into the game as favourites. Sixty places separated them and their Blue Square South visitors. Mellon’s side showed four changes from the draw at Rochdale. The most notable saw the debut in midfield of Scotland international Barry Ferguson, signed on loan from Blackpool on Friday. There were also returns for top scorer Junior Brown, following suspension, and strikers Parkin and Ball who combined for the first time since Burton Albion. Bromley’s side included two well-travelled men up front, leading scorer Pierre Joseph-Dubois and Richard Pacquette.
There was momentary concern for Town in the second minute when Joseph-Dubois broke clear but he was well-marshalled by Rob Edwards. Town retaliated with a move down the right involving Parkin, Curtis Obeng and Conor McLaughlin. Bromley gave their enthusiastic fans plenty to shout about in the early stages as they matched their League opponents on a chilly afternoon. Parkin showed some good touches on his first start in nine games and Ferguson settled comfortably into centre midfield, always assured.
Town dented some of the non-league side’s early positivity with a tenth minute opening goal. Having increasingly threatened with some direct play, Ball struck from close range for his third goal of the season. There was further joy for the Cod Army six minutes later when Bromley keeper, Joe Welch, brought down Brown and Parkin converted with ease for his fourth goal for Town.
The majority of Town’s attacking play built down the right with Obeng getting time aplenty to impress on his home debut. Despite handing the home side control, Bromley’s Joseph-Dubois created a chance on 24 minutes but curled his shot comfortably over the crossbar from the left side of the penalty area. A Toby Finn shot from distance was comfortably pouched by Scott Davies.
On the half hour, Edwards left the field holding his hamstring, heralding the return after injury of club captain, Steve McNulty. There was more trouble for Welch moments later when he brought Obeng down on the edge of the area. The keeper saw yellow and fared little better with Parkin’s second penalty, the centre-forward this time driving the ball emphatically to his right. It was further reward for the striker after an industrious first half performance.
Bromley moved forward after the break with Joseph-Dubois failing to capitalise on good build-up from Elliott Buchanan and Danny Waldren. As the half developed, Town kept the ball and denied their opponents an early reply but this could so easily have been undermined in the 54th
minute. Davies presented Joseph-Dubois with a golden opportunity in the area but spread himself to stop the shot and saved his embarrassment. Bromley were suddenly energised and felt that a free kick on the edge of the area should have been a penalty. Town’s defence stood tall as several shots rained in. Fowler was booked for a challenge on Ali Fuseini and Bromley enjoyed their best spell. It could have been undone just after the hour when Parkin broke free but his shot hit the top of the Memorial Stand. Town’s second substitution saw Jamie McGuire replace Brown after 67 minutes.
Ali Chaaban, on for Joseph-Dubois, fired straight at Davies on 71 minutes, having exploited a McNulty error. Two minutes later, Parkin had the ball in the net following good work by Fowler and McGuire. It was a tasty strike off the left foot but his second hat-trick of the season was denied by a flag for offside. Town had resisted Bromley’s advances and started to build more pressure themselves. Obeng remained busy on the right, firing in a cross for Ball in the 78th minute. There was a flurry of substitutions soon after. Aaron Rhule and Michael Malcolm came on for Bromley and Jamie Milligan for Town, on for Ferguson who left to a standing ovation.
Parkin went close to his hat-trick, denied from close range by Welch, and he and his colleagues now look ahead to the arrival of Rotherham in League 2 on Tuesday.
TOWN: Davies, McLaughlin, Edwards (McNulty 30), Mawéné, Howell, Obeng, Ferguson (Milligan 81), Fowler, Brown (McGuire 67), Parkin, Ball