The latest instalment of our season review
The start of November brought new heights for Fleetwood Town.
The 2-0 victory away at York City the week before had ensured Graham Alexander and his side had bounced back from their first back-to-back defeats of the season.
The first opponents of November, Newport County, represented another tough challenge. The Welsh outfit, promoted back to the Football League via the play-offs, had made a good start to the season – residing seventh and three points off top spot – ahead of their trip to Highbury.
Although there was an early decision from referee, Andy Haines, to send off Robbie Willmott, Fleetwood again showed their ruthless touch in front of goal.
Steven Schumacher scored the first of three goals – his professional hat-trick – after only four minutes before David Ball wrapped up proceedings with a late fourth. A 4-1 win. A second consecutive victory, but the result was much more significant than that.
Come 5pm that Saturday evening. Fleetwood sat perched on top of the Sky Bet League 2 table after amassing 28 points from the first 15 league games of the season.
Perfect timing as well considering the Cod Army would hold that position for a minimum of two weeks with a break in the league schedule to accommodate the forthcoming FA Cup first round fixtures.
Fleetwood, paired with Gloucester City, made the long journey south to Whaddon Road looking to avoid a potential banana skin.
There was to be no upset. Fleetwood, courtesy of goals from David Ball and Jon Parkin in either half, booked their passage into the second round where they would meet Burton Albion in a month’s time.
One cup fixture down, a second to go, but this time it was in front of the Sky cameras.
Carlisle United, another League 1 side, were next in town as Fleetwood looked to continue their progression in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
A repeat score line for good measure and a fine display ensured Town secured their passage through to the semi-final stages. The Cod Army’s winning streak had also been extended to four games ahead of a trip to struggling Northampton Town.
After falling at the final hurdle in their quest for promotion to League 1 the season previous, Northampton were firmly in the thick of a relegation battle and bottom of the League 2 table.
Luke Norris, though, upset the apple cart by curling in a splendid injury-time free-kick to end Fleetwood’s winning streak and ensured their only period of the season at the summit of the fourth tier came to an end.
Fleetwood, again, were looking to bounce back at the first attempt. They did just that, but they did so in pulsating fashion in a fixture that must go down as one of the games of the season across the Football League.
Town welcomed Mansfield Town to Highbury and the tone for the match was set inside the first 20 seconds as Gareth Evans, following good work from new loan signing Nathan Tyson, swept in the opening goal.
Mansfield, who had inexplicably, after a good start to the season, hit a downward spiral, hit back – scoring two goals in the space of four minutes to turn the game on its head.
Antoni Sarcevic’s penalty just after the half hour mark levelled the scores again before the attacking midfielder and Evans struck Town into a 4-2 lead.
The Stags were not finished, though, and Paul Cox’s side thought they had stolen a point to take back to the East Midlands as Sam Clucas and Ross Dyer scored late goals to level the game again at four apiece.
Fleetwood would have the last word and Sarcevic struck the Cod Army’s second hat-trick of the month from the spot deep into injury-time after Matty Blair had been fouled in the area.
Fleetwood would end the month without a win in their last two games as they lost 2-0 to local rivals Accrington Stanley, who were continuing to improve under the guidance of James Beattie, before Dave Kitson scored a late equaliser at Highbury to deny Fleetwood victory over the league leaders.