Following their dominant victory over Torquay United last week, Fleetwood Town went into their clash with North West rivals Bury full of confidence and recorded a 2-1 victory over the Shakers.
The opening exchanges were evenly contested with both sides looking to obtain a control of the proceedings. Town were immediately made aware that this would be a battle to the final whistle but it was the home side who had the first chance of the game after just 8 minutes. Junior Brown managed to find some space on the right wing and after cutting inside, Brown delivered a pin-point accurate cross to Gareth Evans who fired his effort just wide.
Bury were not fazed by this lucky escape and they continued with their attempts to piece some slick attacking moves together. However as the game progressed, it was the hosts who were beginning to find their rhythm sooner. Northern Ireland midfielder Jeff Hughes was looking to get into advanced positions to add to his already impressive goal tally, his movement putting the Bury defence on edge in the early exchanges. Winger Junior Brown was again looking to fire his side ahead but his effort was parried away by Bury number 1 Trevor Carson.
On the 15 minute mark there was a moment of controversy as striker Anton Forrester went down under a powerful challenge from Steven Schumacher. It was a fantastic tackle from Schumacher yet the referee deemed it a foul and worthy of a yellow card. There was a desire in Schumacher who was playing against his former club and he of all people would not want to see his afternoon end with an early bath.
Striker Jamille Matt for the 3rd consecutive fixture was looking mighty playing as the lone striker, his hold up play being a particular highlight of his overall game. Unfortunately for Matt, he was struggling to find any clear-cut chances and instead saw his team-mates blast speculative long-range efforts off target.
Both defences were looking solid and experienced full back Dean Howell was bombing down the left flank helping out both defensively and offensively. The 32 year old demonstrated a phenomenal work rate and desire to help his side resist and attack the visitors could conjure up.
However after 27 minutes, it was the visitors who broke the deadlock. A series of precise passes concluded in Tom Soares cleverly slotting the ball past Scott Davies.
The next real chance fell to Fleetwood as Jeff Hughes was brilliantly denied by Trevor Carson. From the resulting corner, Bury went straight up the other end and came close to doubling their advantage. Loan signing Anton Forrester got in behind Dean Howell and his ambitious chip cannoned off the cross bar and thankfully for Town's sake out of danger.
The Cod Army almost drew themselves level but Jamille Matt saw his goal disallowed. Steven Schumacher fired a powerful strike at goal which hit Matt en route and the linesman immediately flagged the striker for being in an offside position.
Antoni Sarcevic then took matters into his own hands well, feet. He attempted a one-two with Jeff Hughes but the ball deflected off a Bury defender and landed at Sarcevic's feet who could only find the side netting from a tight angle.
Fleetwood Town began the 2nd half and were instantly on the attack, Antoni Sarcevic brought down just outside the area. Steven Schumacher's resulting free kick was ordered to be retaken as captain Gareth Roberts moved to quickly, subsequently picking up a booking for his actions. The retake saw Junior Brown fire a magnificent curling effort off the inside of the post but the ball didn't end up in the back of the net. Brown's disappointment was clear for everybody to see.
After surviving the scare at the beginning of the 2nd half, Bury got a corner but saw goalscorer Tom Soares blaze over the crossbar. Just moments later, Fleetwood were level and what a goal it was. Junior Brown provided a wonderful through ball into the path of Antoni Sarcevic who blasted an absolute thunderbolt of a half volley into the roof of the Bury net from around 25 yards, sparking a frenzy in the Highbury stands.
The pendulum had completely swung in Town's favour now. The Bury fans had been silenced and the Cod Army supporters had found their voices. Brown was once again causing problems for the now shaky Shakers defence and he was denied claims for a penalty. After cutting inside and running into the box, the winger looked to have been tripped inside the penalty area but the referee deemed it a fair challenge.
Antoni Sarcevic tested Carson once more but his snap shot from just outside the area was parried away by the Bury goalkeeper. Both he and Junior Brown were full of confidence with the latter seeing a speculative volley fly past the post. The Shakers looked to be on the ropes.
Just after the hour mark and the comeback was complete. Great work once again by Junior Brown cutting in from the right to find Jeff Hughes in the box who's instant lay-off landed at Gareth Evans' feet and he nestled the ball into the bottom corner to fire the Cod Army ahead.
It was almost 3 for Town on the 72 minute mark after a goalmouth scramble. Antoni Sarcevic got to the byline and drilled a cross across the face of the goal to see Jeff Hughes' effort charged down by the Bury defenders.
The visitors were desperately doing everything they could in search of that equalizer but they struggled to find the final ball they needed to get back on level terms. Town were also posing a threat on the counter so Bury were wary of throwing too many players forward in case they conceded another goal.
Another counter attack from Town culminating in a strike from Junior Brown which found the side netting. This was arguably Brown's best performance of the season with the only thing missing being a goal. By this time Town had introduced Stewart Murdoch in place of Steven Schumacher in order to operate slightly more defensively.
The impressive Jamille Matt was then replaced by David Ball with 6 minutes left to play, whilst Liam Hogan came on to replace Conor McLaughlin. Bury were still pushing for that priceless equalizer but it was becoming more and more unlikely for them to salvage anything from this game.
There was a late chance for David Ball but he didn't connect as well as he would have liked, Carson making a comfortable save at his near post.
As the final whistle blows, Fleetwood Town move into the 3rd automatic promotion place and with performances like this, many would back the Cod Army to be in the top 3 come the end of the season.
Substitutions- Schumacher (Murdoch), McLaughlin (Hogan), Matt (Ball).