Barnsley 1-1 Fleetwood TownFleetwood Town and Barnsley played out an exciting and end-to-end 1-1 draw at Oakwell in a thrilling Johnstone's Paint Trophy Northern Area Final first leg.
The winner will be decided at Highbury Stadium in February in the second leg.
Ashley Hunter handed Town the lead midway through the second half, two goals in two for the youngster, as his cross was deflected over the line by a Barnsley defender.
However, with 20 minutes to go, Barnsley sub Ashley Fletcher ensured the tie would be decided at Highbury with a headed equaliser.
Defender Joe Davis came into the team after joining the Club on loan until the end of the season from Leicester City, partnering Nathan Pond in the heart of the backline.
Barnsley, who had won their last two home league games coming into the Northern Area Final, deployed Sam Winnall and Ryan Williams as their attackers against the Cod Army.
The Cod Army walked into the match having won their two previous games at Oakwell in 2015.
Conor Hourihane looked to have handed the Yorkshire outfit the lead with 13 minutes on Fred Graham’s watch.
A corner routine cumulated in the Barnsley skipper driving the ball from the edge of the ‘D’ but Antoni Sarcevic was positioned perfectly on the left post to chest the ball off the line.
Two minutes later and the visitors themselves could have taken a first leg lead. Full back Conor McLaughlin moved the ball from right to left to Ashley Hunter, who cut inside to see a well struck shot palmed away by Adam Davies.
The belief in possession was there to see in Town’s play. A delicate pass over the Barnsley full back by Jimmy Ryan allowed McLaughlin to enter space on the right. Handing the ball to Bobby Grant, the winger curled the ball inches wide of the far post from just inside the penalty area.
It was a let off for Fleetwood Town midway through the first half as they handed possession to the hosts inside their own half. A clever pass inside of Amari’I Bell played Williams in on goal, but his effort was tame and not an issue for Maxwell.
Minutes later, the same man was at it again but this time Williams was unable to find the target from 16-yards, a couple of sharp warning signs for the team in yellow and blue.
The chance of the half though fell to the man that prevented arguably Barnsley’s best, Sarcevic. A counter attack from a Tykes corner, Hunter cutely kicked the ball over his head to allow our number 18 to race in on goal but he could only drag his effort wide of the post.
The second half initially started at a slow pace but it soon gained momentum as the two legged affair gained a real bite!
Jamie Proctor, playing on the left of a front three, had the first opportunity of the second half, as he bent a 20-yard effort well of the mark.
The lively Hunter, causing some real issue with his pace, capitalised on a misplaced back pass to go into a 50/50 with the goalkeeper, but Barnsley’s number one came out the winner in the tackle.
Ten minutes into the second half, a moment of real panic set in for FTFC at the back as a coming together of bodies in the penalty area following a Barnsley corner kick saw Maxwell not claim the ball.
But fortunately a yellow jersey thumped clear despite shouts of the ball crossing the line from the home support.
Fleetwood were consistently looking dangerous on the counter attack and on the hour mark they raced at Oakwell infront of a strong support from the Fylde Coast.
Hunter jinxed away from the Barnsley defence to deliver a powerful cross into the middle which deflected off a red shirt to hand the Cod Army the lead.
But Barnsley didn’t look to despondent after falling behind and regrouped, drafting on Manchester United loan man Ashley Fletcher for his debut.
And the youngster from Old Trafford made an immediate impact, heading the hosts level following a deep cross from the Tykes full back Aiden White.
Tyler Forbes and Nick Haughton were both introduced as Town looked to go ahead for a second time in Yorkshire
Town had chances to reclaim a lead they probably deserved as Proctor and full back Bell both missing golden opportunities in the dying embers of the game.
For ticket information for the second leg at Highbury Stadium next month, please click HERE