Ash Hunter nets brace to give Town a comfortable victoryA brace from Ashley Hunter and a Bobby Grant wonder goal from the halfway line ensured Fleetwood Town picked up a comfortable victory in their friendly at Southport on Tuesday night.
The 20-year-old took just two minutes to open the scoring on Merseyside, and later added his second just shy of the half-hour mark, as Fleetwood picked up their first win of the pre-season schedule.
Grant netted Fleetwood’s third on the hour, after the Liverpudlian received the ball inside the Southport half, he then thumped a shot from the halfway line, catching the keeper off his line.
In the final 20 minutes, Southport netted a consolation, as Ross White bundled home Louis Almond’s free-kick.
Barry Nicholson took caretaker charge of the Cod Army and named a strong starting side for the fixture, including Conor McLaughlin, Grant, skipper Nathan Pond, and Jimmy Ryan although left a number of his first team squad back on the Fylde coast.
Town got off to the perfect start after just two minutes played when Hunter profited from a misjudgement from goalkeeper Tyrell Belford to gallop onto Victor Nirennold’s lofted pass to prod the ball into an empty net.
Allen engineered Southport’s inaugural sight on goal, but his low driven shot from just outside the penalty area was palmedaway by Chris Neal’s strong right hand.
Ricardo Kip acrobatically volleyed wide of the post from Grant’s teasing cross, before Southport captain James Graywhistled a speculative effort just beyond Neal’s post from 20 yards.
Hunter doubled Fleetwood’s advantage, adding his brace with 27 minutes on the clock. He raced onto a Haughton through ball, with only the on-rushing Belford to beat, the forward dinked the ball into the empty net.
As half-time approached, the industrious Kip managed to pick up on a loose ball in the centre of midfield, he drove at the home defence and instinctively found Hunter, who latched onto the pass and arrowed his daisy-cutter shot across goal from the right side of the area, which evaded the far corner of the goal.
Fleetwood came out for the second half completely unchanged, as did their opponents from the VanaramaNational League.
After a quiet beginning to the second half, Grant’s spectacular strike on the hour put the Fylde Coast outfit three to the good, rifling a brilliant effort into the back of the net from his own half.
With the game entering its dying embers, Southport notched up a solitary goal of their own after 70 minutes – defender White connected with Almond’s floated free-kick from the left, to divert the ball past Neal at the back post.
Matty Urwin, Dion Charles, Akil Wright were all part of a cluster of players who came on for the visitors in the closing stages, as Nicholson aimed to give playing time to the majority of his side.
Despite late pressure from Southport, who looked to reduce the deficit, Fleetwood would see out the fixture in a professional manner, ahead of Friday’s friendly with Wigan Athletic at Highbury.
FTFC: Chris Neal, Conor McLaughlin, Nathan Pond, Cian Bolger, Jack Sowerby, Bobby Grant, Jimmy Ryan, Victor Nirennold, Ricardo Kip, Ashley Hunter, Nick Haughton
Southport: Tyrell Belford, Ross White, Neil Ashton (Michael Carberry, 67) Josh Thompson, Keil O’Brien, Jamie Allen(Conor McCarthy, 67) Ashley Grimes, James Gray, Louis Almond, Jonathan Royle, Danny Jones.