Fleetwood Town progressed to the last eight of the Checkatrade Trophy after a gutsy 3-2 victory at Bury on Tuesday night.
A brace from Jordy Hiwula, either side of a Bobby Grant penalty, were enough to see out a tight game with no end of entertainment.
Bury did get two goals – one in first half injury time from Harry Bunn – with Tsun Dai making the game interesting going into the last half an hour. However, Town hung on and deserved to win and progress to the next round.
Uwe Rosler made wholesale changes from the team that turned out for Saturday’s historic Emirates FA Cup third round draw with Leicester City, with eleven new faces coming into the starting line-up.
Amongst those returning for Town were Conor McAleny up front, and Grant, captaining the side after a 10-week absence through injury.
Bury had the better of the opening exchanges on a bitterly cold Tuesday night, moving the ball effectively against a young Fleetwood side.
The first meaningful chance of the game deservedly fell to the home team, but Chris Maguire saw his dipping free kick brilliantly tipped onto the post by Alex Cairns.
Bury continued to press and went close again two minutes later when Callum Reilly dragged a shot wide of the right hand upright from the edge of the box.
The opener came somewhat against the run of play, 14 minutes in. Bury gave the ball away cheaply in the middle of the park and McAleny pounced to drive through the centre of the Shakers’ defence. His shot was fired straight at Connor Ripley, but Hiwula followed in to head the rebound into an empty net.
Four minutes later Hiwula capitalised on poor Bury defending again, breaking onto a loose ball just inside the box and drawing a foul from Phil Edwards. Bobby Grant stepped up to take the resulting penalty, cooly slotting the ball to the keeper’s left to score on his return.
Bury just about managed to steady themselves in the aftermath of the second, but Town continued to pressure and got stronger as the half progressed.
Victor Nirennold in particular showed some fine touches down the right wing, and was unlucky not to see his driving run and cutback converted by the lurking Hiwula.
Stoppage time at the end of the first half saw a rare spell of Bury pressure ending in a decent attempt on goal from Reilly. Greg Leigh flashed a pass across the six yard box, and after Fleetwood failed to clear their lines, the ball fell to the midfielder 15 yards out, only for his shot to crash back off the crossbar.
Two minutes later Bury went one better. Substitute Harry Bunn burst forward from midfield, cut inside his man, and curled his shot past Cairns from the edge of the box.
Despite controlling much of the game, Rosler’s men went in at the break just one goal to the good.
Town started the second half brightly, with McAleny cutting inside from the left-hand side and pulling a shot just wide.
Fleetwood’s strength was reflected in the 50th minute when a long kick from Cairns was poorly dealt with by Edwards at the heart of the Bury defence and Hiwula pounced to finish for a well-deserved second, restoring the Cod Army’s two goal cushion.
Town’s two goal lead was short lived, however, as another Bury cross was only half dealt with and the substitute Dai took advantage of the confusion to convert the Shaker’s second.
The 18-year-old was involved again moments later, his long-range effort initially parried by Cairns, forcing the keeper to make a smart recovery at the feet of Reilly.
Fleetwood steeled themselves, and a short corner led to another great attempt from the ever-dangerous McAleny. A swerving strike from 20 yards left Ripley stranded, but whistled just over the bar.
A tense period of play followed, with both teams struggling to sustain any kind of meaningful pressure.
A series of half chances for the home team were met by resolute defending from Town, with the best of them forcing Cairns into an agile save down to his right to deny Maguire.
The final stages followed the pattern of the rest of the second half, with both sides threatening, but Rosler’s men ultimate had enough to see out the match.
Bury FC: Ripley (GK), Cooney, Edwards, O’Connell (Bunn 44’), Skarz, Maguire, Reilly, Ince (Lowe, 86’), Leigh, Ajose, Hanson (Dai 45’).
Unused Subs: Fasan (GK), Tutte, Dawson, Alfred.
Fleetwood Town: Cairns (GK), Nirennold, Rodgers, Sheron, Cargill, Maguire, Sowerby (Hunter 80’), Biggins, Grant (Schwabl 61’), Hiwula, McAleny (Nadesen 67’).
Unused Subs: Crellin (GK), Donohue, Baines, Reid.
Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge