Gloucester City 0-2 Fleetwood Town
Fleetwood Town overcame lively resistance from non-league Gloucester City side to reach the Second Round of the FA Cup at Cheltenham Town’s ground. Goals from David Ball and Jon Parkin, one in each half, ensured that the League Two leaders are safely in tomorrow’s draw.
Graham Alexander made two enforced changes, both in defence, with Liam Hogan suspended and Ryan Cresswell leaving training on Thursday due to illness. Conor McLaughlin and Mark Roberts returned to action.
The Conference North side belied their lowly status in the league with a performance that invigorated their fans in the crowd of 1183. With a 3-5-2 set up they pressed Town’s defence but there was space behind for the visitors to exploit. Town stretched their back three in the early stages with Gareth Evans catching the eye down the right. Gloucester keeper Mike Green made his first save of a busy afternoon in the fifth minute, a point-blank header from Jeff Hughes bringing an instinctive and brilliant response. There was action at the opposite end with Gloucester moving forward confidently and taking the game to opponents sixty-seven places above them in the pyramid.
It was Town who took the lead in an ever-entertaining game. A David Ball shot from the left, which took a deflection off Darren Mullings, gave the striker his sixth goal of the season in the eleventh minute. Town could have settled the tie within minutes but Antoni Sarcevic and Ball missed opportunities from close-range.
Tom Webb, playing his 550th game for the club, was booked for a foul on Steven Schumacher in the 21st minute. Two minutes later, the former Bury skipper had the chance to add to last week’s hat trick when defender Mike Green brought Ball down in the penalty area. The spot kick was less convincing than the two against Newport and the ball came back off the right-hand post.
Being behind did not deter the Gloucester at their temporary Cheltenham home. They put Town on the back foot and had their own appeal for a penalty turned down when Nathan Pond brought Jordan Goddard down. Schumacher was booked for a foul on the same player in the 37th minute.
The second half began in the same vein as the first with Town impressing going forward and creating chances for Evans and Sarcevic. A rare error from Pond, in his 15th consecutive game, put his defence under pressure and the move ended with Goddard blasting over. The first substitution saw eighteen-year old Joe Parker, a hat-trick hero two rounds ago, replace Matt Liddiard and the young striker immediately provided from the left for Darren Edwards who scooped the ball over the bar.
Soon after Goddard had been booked for a foul on Charlie Taylor, Graham Alexander made his first substitution with Jon Parkin replacing Sarcevic after 65 minutes. Things did not start well for the big striker with several early touches going astray and a booking for a foul on the impressive Matt Coupe. Gloucester almost made Town pay for missed chances when Edwards forced a good save from Scott Davies at the near post.
It was Parkin who sealed victory in the 84th minute, picking up a ball from Hughes and advancing round Green before firing a convincing right foot shot for his fourth goal of the season. Soon after, Alexander made his remaining changes with midfielders Matty Blair and Junior Brown on for Ball and Evans.
A third successive win puts Town in good spirits ahead of their televised Johnstone Paints Trophy game against Carlisle at home on Wednesday but plucky Gloucester made them fight all the way.
Davies, McLaughlin, Pond, Roberts (c), Taylor, Evans (Brown 87), Schumacher, Murdoch, Hughes, Sarcevic (Parkin 65), Ball (Blair 86)
Booked: Schumacher, Parkin