Substitute Jack Sowerby sent Fleetwood Town through to the second round of the Emirates FA Cup after a dramatic 2-1 win over National League North side Chorley on Monda.
Marcus Carver had put the hosts in front early in the second hald, with Town also dismissed to ten men shortly after Lewie Coyle was shown a straight red card by referee Peter Bankes.
However, Devante Cole headed Uwe Rosler's side level with 13 minutes to go, before Sowerby's strike in the second minute of injury time set up a home draw with Hereford in the second round.
Rosler made three changes from last Tuesday’s 2-2 draw against Blackburn Rovers with Aiden O’Neill, Nathan Pond, and Cole coming into the starting line up ahead of Bailly Cargill, Jordy Hiwula, and the injured Bobby Grant. Chorley were without Fleetwood loanees Nick Haughton and Matt Urwin who were unavailable against their parent club.
In front of a bumper crowd at Victory Park, there was a feisty start as both teams played to the carnival atmosphere. The hosts were certainly up for the tie and were applying the early pressure on Town’s defence down the left side.
Fleetwood’s early attacking threat came when Cole linked up with Coyle on the wing before the latter whipped in a good cross, but it was well cleared by the home back line.
Chorley’s first effort came when Josh Wilson fired wide after a neat one-two with Carver. It was a nice first time hit from Wilson, but it was well wide of Alex Cairns’ net.
The pressure from those in black and white continued as they took a quick free kick that forced Cairns into action as it eluded everyone in the Fleetwood box. A single touch from a Chorley body would have perhaps taken the ball in.
The ball was in the back of Chorley net midway through the first half, as Cole cheekily back-heeled in after a long ball over the top, but the linesman’s flag ended Fleetwood celebration’s early and those inside Victory Park were made to wait for the opening goal of the game.
The Cod Army finally got going, as they began attacking with more intent. Coyle was linking up well with Kyle Dempsey, who found Ash Hunter lurking just outside the area, but good Chorley defending ushered the ball away from goal.
Carver was creating most of the chances and impressing for the hosts, as he forced Nathan Pond into a block, before the rebound fell to a waiting Wilson who could only drag his shot wide.
Town forced two corners just before the break, with the first eventually falling to Bell, who whipped in a neat cross for a waiting Cole, but defender Andy Teague did well to clear Chorley lines and put it behind.
This to be the last action of the half as the two sides went into the break with the tightly contested affair goalless.
Town were quick out the traps in the second, as Cole pounced on a defensive error, taking down Amari’i Bell’s long ball before weaving his way into the area. He cut the ball back to O’Neill, who was beaten to the ball and it was cleared away.
Perhaps the best chance of the game saw Hunter force Chorley’s loanee goalkeeper Oliver Byrne into a save, after Hunter flicked the ball onto his other foot and drilled it at goal. O’Neill then fired over the bar from inside the area after he was played through on goal.
It was to take until the 58th minute for the deadlock to be broken, and it was to be the hosts that took the lead with a slice of luck. Carver, who had been threatening all evening, pounced on a defensive mix up just outside the area and looped the ball over Cairns to make it 1-0.
This fired up all inside Victory Park, and they could have perhaps been cheering a second goal had Jason Walker’s effort dipped under the bar, but much to the relief of the Fleetwood fans behind that goal, it was over.
Fleetwood had looked lively in their serach for an equaliser but were to continue their efforts a man light when Coyle was shown a red card for a tackle on Chorley’s Jake Cottrell.
With a man advantage, Chorley continued to press, but they were to be caught on the counter attack in lethal circumstances. With Dempsey’s free kick blocked, he then wriggled the ball into the area, before it found Wes Burns on the right side. Substitute Burns whipped a perfect cross into the area which was headed in by Cole to equalise for Rosler’s side.
The red card had seemingly galvanised Fleetwood, who were now looking better on the attack. Momentum was well with Town, as Burns found an inch of space from Dempsey’s free kick, but fired over inside the penalty area.
Town were to earn their reward for their good pressure in the dying seconds. With the 90 minutes up and the game well into stoppage time, substitute Sowerby was to seal victory in dramatic circumstances. With George Glendon in the centre of the park, he played a fine through ball through the centre of the defence, allowing Sowerby to flick the ball past an onrushing Byrne and put Town into the second round.
The second round draw was made before the game, and it is now confirmed that Fleetwood have been given a home tie against another non-league side – Hereford FC of the EvoStik Premier Division.
Chorley XI: Byrne (GK), Challoner, Blakeman, Teague ©, Leather, Jordan, O’Keefe, Wilson, Carver (Darr), Walker, Cottrell.
Subs not used: Charnock, Beesley, Jarvis, Azam, Anson, Black.
Fleetwood XI: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Bell, O’Neill (Burns), Eastham, Pond © (Hiwula), Dempsey, Bolger, Glendon, Hunter (Sowerby), Cole.
Subs not used: Neal (GK), Rodgers, Schwabl, Biggins.
Attendance: 3,526 (550 away)
Referee: Peter Bankes