Aldershot 2-0 Fleetwood
By Liz Owen
Fleetwood Town finished the game with nine men after both Jamie McGuire and Alan Goodall were sent off in a fiery encounter at the EBB Stadium watched by 2,032 supporters, made up of 73 members of the travelling Cod Army.
McGuire was dismissed after 63 minutes for a push on Oliver Risser while Goodall met his fate only 13 minutes later after a tackle on Danny Hylton in the box, a challenge which at first glance seemed to have resulted in the left-back getting a touch on the ball.
Referee Robert Whitton pointed to the spot but Fleetwood ‘keeper David Lucas, making his first start for the club, dived to his right to save from substitute Craig Reid.
The heroic Lucas had came to Town’s rescue on numerous occasions but could not keep out either of Hylton’s goals, the first of which came eight minutes before the interval.
After a Terrell Forbes header from Kieron Cadogan’s corner was blocked, the Shots retained possession and forced their way back into the penalty area, Goodall trying in vain to win the ball back.
A scramble in the box ensued and the ball fell to Hylton’s feet, the striker making no mistake from close range.
And the Shots striker sealed a brace seven minutes from time as a stretched Fleetwood side failed to prevent him charging down on goal and tucking a low angled strike into the bottom left corner.
Manager Graham Alexander made four changes ahead of the game, Lucas starting in the absence of Scott Davies while new signing Ryan Edwards made his debut in place of Kieran Charnock. Ryan Crowther returned to the left wing in place of Dean Howell and Anthony Barry started on the opposite flank, with Barry Nicholson making way.
New Shots boss Andy Scott also altered his side, starting Peter Vincenti with on-loan midfielder Danny Rose unable to play against his parent club. Jeff Goulding and Troy Brown also made way for Hylton and Forbes.
The home side had enjoyed the brighter start with the first shot of the game after seven minutes as Risser’s angled strike from outside the area soared narrowly over the top corner, while Cadogan’s low effort thudded just wide shortly afterwards.
Hylton should have taken the lead in the 11th minute but fired over on the volley in plenty of space following Asa Hall’s knock-on in the box.
The closest Fleetwood came to threatening inside the opening 20 minutes was an Anthony Barry corner, promptly cleared for Hall and Adam Mekki to break quickly, while a Ryan Edwards header was caught comfortably by Shots ‘keeper Jamie Young.
After missing last week’s defeat against Burton Albion with concussion, Crowther picked up where he left off as he looked sharp down the left flank for Town and shot off-target from inside the area after 26 minutes.
Almost immediately afterwards, good work from right-back Conor McLaughlin set up McGuire in the centre just a few yards from goal, but the midfielder missed the chance to score his first goal since November and blasted the ball over the bar in Fleetwood’s best chance of the half.
Goodall picked up his third yellow card of the season after a heavy challenge on Mekki shortly before the half-hour mark but Aldershot’s free-kick was cleared by Fleetwood’s back-line, who had looked solid in front of a capable Lucas.
The ‘keeper prevented the home side from doubling their advantage on the stroke of half-time, reacting quickly to a deflected Ben Herd free-kick to reach the ball from the ground and push it out of play.
Alexander’s side went straight onto the offensive after the break and David Ball shot a floated effort over the crossbar following an impressive Fontaine knock-down after Crowther’s cross.
Another ball in from the winger two minutes later was hit just too hard for Barry to reach, while Fontaine struck the scoreboard with an ambitious long-range effort.
At the other end, Hylton was allowed to slip in behind Rob Atkinson but Lucas was ready to pounce for possession on the edge of the area, receiving a kick for his efforts.
Fleetwood appeared hungrier and livelier during the second half.
Crowther had a glorious chance to equalise after 53 minutes, the product of a flowing attacking move. Ball broke for Town and fed Barry to his right, the midfielder then showing composure and vision to pick out Crowther storming into space down the left.
The former Liverpool man fired a low shot which snuck past Young but struck the post, the rebound rolling straight into the ‘keeper’s arms.
Lucas saved Town once more shortly before the hour mark, as a swift Vincenti pass across goal was backheeled by Mekki into the path of the ever-dangerous Cadogan, whose attempted tap-in was scooped off the line by the ‘keeper.
Jon Parkin was introduced after 59 minutes in place of Ball but was booked only a few minutes later for his role in the aftermath of McGuire’s sending-off, with Vincenti also shown a yellow card after the pair squared up.
Alexander replaced Fontaine with Steven Gillespie after 70 minutes but after Goodall’s dismissal it was damage limitation for Town, who performed well defensively under difficult circumstances as a host of Shots chances rained down on them.
Forbes struck the crossbar late on while Gillespie’s long-range effort was saved comfortably, as Fleetwood fought until the end but could not find a consolation.
Fleetwood Town: Lucas; McLaughlin, Edwards, Atkinson (c), Goodall; Barry, McGuire, McKenna, Crowther; Ball (Parkin 60), Fontaine (Gillespie 70). Unused substitutes: Martin, Matt, Milligan, Howell, Nicholson.
Aldershot Town: Young; Herd (c), Forbes, Bradley, Morris; Mekki (Reid 66), Hall, Vincenti, Cadogan; Risser; Hylton. Unused substitutes: Lancashire, McNamee, Stanley, Morris, Cooksley, Webbe