A professional performance from Fleetwood Town secured a 4-1 win over Alfreton Town in the Emirates FA Cup first round on Sunday.
Two goals from Paddy Madden, and a solo effort from Ash Hunter and a Ged Garner header were enough to see off the National League North side. The home side got a late consolation goal through Jordan Sinnott, who struck a free-kick in from long range.
Joey Barton has made just the two changes to the side that lost away at Gillingham last weekend with Ched Evans and club captain Craig Morgan missing out. This saw Cian Bolger and Madden come into the line-up. Alex Cairns made his 100th appearance for the club in all competitions in goal.
It was an even start to the game in North Derbyshire with both Alfreton and Fleetwood having half decent chances at goal, which would have given both sets of players’ confidence early on.
It was Madden who opened the scoring in the 14th minute after Lewie Coyle put a delightful cross into the box for the Irishman to volley the ball home from 10-yards out. Just the start Barton would have wanted in the game.
Town dominated possession after getting the all-important first goal and made the home side work for every opportunity they got to win the ball back, but when they closed the away side down, gaps showed and that’s where Fleetwood got their second of the match.
Hunter capitalised on the space on the left side and with just the goalkeeper in front of him, he slipped the ball past Ramsbottom and saw it fly into the bottom corner. Well-deserved you have to say.
Jason Holt nearly made it three goals to the good after a mistake in the Alfreton defence. Fortunately for The Reds, Ramsbottom was to the rescue and made a neat save to take the ball over his own goal posts. Town didn’t punish Alfreton from the resulting set-piece.
Alfreton’s first shot on target was recorded half an hour into the match, and it was Nathan Hotte who found himself space into the Town box, and with his acrobatic effort, he made Cairns – who made his 100th appearance for the club in all competitions – scamper across his goal line, but didn’t trouble him too much.
Madden had another chance at goal just before the half-time whistle, after Wes Burns’ cross deep to the far post. The forward just dropped off his defender, which gave him space to fire a shot at goal, but it was the goalkeeper who denied him.
The Irishman could have had a hat-trick in the first half, but he saw his glancing header go wide of the far post after Hunter’s cross on the right wing. Fleetwood went into the interval with a comfortable lead.
Town started the second half just like they finished the first. Burns used his pace to get past the Alfreton Town full back, and has he looked to have picked out Madden, it was Martin Riley who got the final touch to put it out for a corner.
Fleetwood took complete control of the game, slowed the tempo down and looked to knock the ball around in all areas of the pitch, and made it difficult for Alfreton to get hold of the game.
On the rare occasion that the home side got into the final third, it was always a yellow shirt in their face to make it hard to simple pass or even get a shot away, and that would have pleased the head coach, and his staff.
Hunter won his side a penalty 14 minutes into the second half, and it was up to Madden to take it from the 12-yard spot. He missed chances earlier on, but there was no doubt that he would find the back of the net from that range.
Sinnott scored for Alfreton with 20 minutes to go until the final whistle. The midfielder stepped up to take their free-kick from 25-yards out and the non-league side found a way back into the game, but was it enough?
Cairns made a massive save just moments after the goal to deny Peniket who found himself one on one with keeper, and with the on rushing Bateson, Ash Eastham made a fantastic block to clear his lines.
Alfreton had a ten minute spell in the match where they had a number of chances, and Chettle, who came on for the home side, couldn’t believe the room he had, however fluffed his lines when he had the goal staring at him! Huge let off.
With under ten minutes to go, the non-league side went for the second goal, however Town stood up strong and got a fourth themselves. Sub Ged Garner glanced home Ross Wallace’s cross to net his first goal for the club.
The Cod Army can now look forward to Monday’s second round draw, which takes place from 7:30pm.
Alfreton XI: Ramsbottom (GK), Clackstone, Riley, Shiels, Wilde, Johnson, Riley, Bateson, Hotte, Peniket, Sinnot, Clarke.
Subs not used: Platt, Nicholson, Bacon, Gowling, Chettle.
Town's Xl: Cairns (GK) Coyle (J. Wallace 60’), Holt, Eastham ©, Burns (Garner 65’), Bolger, Madden, Hunter (Dempsey 80’), R.Wallace, Husband, Sheron.
Subs not used: P. Jones (GK), Long, Taylor, Biggins