Notts County 3-2 Town
Fleetwood Town were knocked out of the Capital One Cup after a 3-2 defeat at the hands of League One Notts County, in what was a brave effort by the Cod Army.
David Ball’s 89th minute strike set up a dramatic ending to the game, as Manny Smith was sent off for the home side.
Three changes were made to the team from the convincing 3-1 victory over Dag & Red, with Stewart Murdoch, Matty Blair and Gareth Evans all earning starts, whilst Ryan Crowther, Junior Brown and Steven Schumacer sat out.
Notts County controlled the game from the early stages and enjoyed large spells of possession, trying to break through the Town defence. After around 10 minutes, they began to succeed and Enock Showumni became more dangerous as the seconds ticked by, using his strength to win headers around the Town box and seeing a left footed shot go wide on the turn.
But it was Fleetwood who took the lead on 16 minutes after Gareth Evans chipped a beautiful ball over the head of Bartosz Bialkowski in the County goal to put Fleetwood Town 1-0 up, despite it being their first chance of the game. David Ball‘s through ball was missed by Manny Smith in the home side’s defence, which allowed Evans the time and space to create his superb finish from a difficult position.
The Cod Army then continued to attack with a positive spell, in which they were awarded four corners- one effort was deflected wide from a driving shot by Matty Blair outside the box and another almost fell to Mark Roberts.
The ever-present Showumni up front for the home side looked dangerous throughout, and it wasn’t long before the big striker levelled the scores as he put the ball past a helpless Scott Davies. This was followed by a header from Manny Smith, which sailed wide from an Alan Sheehan corner.
This spurred County on and triggered a wave of attacks as they continued to look dangerous and pass the ball with Mustapha Dumbuya putting balls into the mix from right back – and it was not long before the home side put themselves ahead eight minutes before the break, when Danny Haynes smashed a shot into the roof of the net after reacting to a rebounded header off Davies’ right hand post from the left back Sheehan.
Fleetwood started the second half slightly better, creating more chances with Antoni Sarcevic shooting wide, but were still on the back foot as County controlled the game. Junior Brown dashed down the left wing to try and get the ball into an attacking position, and it almost paid off on 54 minutes when his low cross was almost met by David Ball, but the striker just couldn’t reach it, rolling out for a goal kick.
Sarcevic began to grow more in the game second half, as he then won Town a free kick on the edge of the box, but the former Chester man’s effort was blocked by the wall.
The Cod Army soon settled mid-way through the second half though, as the game began to appear more evenly matched. Brown continued to make runs down the left hand side, opening up space in the middle, whilst the amount of chances created by County became less.
Crowther was brought on for Blair on 68 minutes in a bid to boost the attacking options. David Ball was helpless as he received little service from midfield, with most of the play coming down the wings, but the big County defence with Smith and Leacock in the centre, were experienced enough to deal with those type of threats.
The match went quiet until 73 minutes when County’s new signing, who put pen to paper earlier in the day, curled a left footed shot into the top left hand corner of the goal, gaining a deflection from Cresswell on the way in. It was a cruel blow, as the visitors looked to get back into the game.
Alexander made another effort to spice up the attack, as Murdoch made way for Jamille Matt with 15 minutes remaining on the clock. Ball was brought down after some neat footwork on the edge of the box, which saw defender Manny Smith get his second yellow card of the night. Sarcevic’s resulting free kick hit the wall, before a Brown bullet went over the Magpies’ crossbar.
Town then pulled a goal back after the sending off- Ball’s shot went into the net after Matt created some room on the edge of the box. Fleetwood gained some urgency and determination as they forced a corner, but it came to nothing as the Fourth Official indicated three minutes of added time.
Crowther then had a shot saved low by Bialkowski as the Cod Army piled on the pressure in a dramatic ending to the game at Meadow Lane.