Ten man Fleetwood Town battled hard but lost out 2-1 in a fiery encounter in the Leasing.com Trophy at Accrington Stanley on Tuesday night.
An intense first half saw Wes Burns stretchered off after a shocking challenge by Lamine Kaba Sherif, before Harrison Biggins saw red for a challenge on Sean McConville.
Goals in the second half from Wilson Carvalho and McConville were enough to see past Paddy Madden’s injury-time penalty, giving the hosts their first three points in Group B of the North Section.
The Cod Army got the first proper chance of the game in the tenth minute, after the recalled Ched Evans met the returning Ash Hunter’s dangerous cross, managing to force rookie goalkeeper Toby Savin into making a brilliant save to keep the ball out of the net.
There was a long stoppage in play after Burns picked up an injury due to a challenge from Sherif, with the Welshman eventually leaving the field of play via a stretcher. Josh Morris was the man to replace the injured winger.
Sherif was shown a yellow card, two minutes later, for another dangerous tackle – this time on Kyle Dempsey. Tempers were high after two dangerous tackles from the Accrington Stanley midfielder and unfortunately it was Fleetwood Town who suffered the consequences.
Biggins was sent off by referee Darren Handley after a strong tackle on McConville, leaving Joey Barton’s side with ten men. A crazy start to the first fixture in the Leasing.com Trophy this season.
Almost straight after the sending off, Alex Cairns was called into action – making a strong save to deny McConville the chance to put the hosts into the lead.
Although a man down, Fleetwood began to grow into the game having large spells of possession – keeping the ball well against a well drilled Stanley side.
The first half ended all square, and after an intense first 25 minutes the game settled down and Fleetwood were able to focus on the football.
Accrington came into the second half the stronger side, not surprisingly due to the extra man, and a low cross into the box almost caused Fleetwood problems – but a brilliant block from Peter Clarke prevented any danger.
Accrington drew first blood and got the first goal of the game after Carvalho found space on the edge of the box before striking an effort at goal which took a deflection off of Jordan Rossiter and ended up in the back of the net.
Fleetwood did not seem phased by the goal and pushed on to try and force more problems for Accrington Stanley’s defence and almost gained an equaliser from doing so. Danny Andrew’s low cross found Evans who hit it goal wards and forced a good save from Savin to keep the score the same.
Andrew and Hunter began to cause more and more problems down the left wing for the Stanley defenders, creating more chances with their dangerous deliveries but unfortunately none of the chances were converted.
The hosts doubled their lead through their captain, McConville, who latched onto the end of a through ball into the box and placed it pass Cairns.
A slow end to the game as Accrington tried to keep the ball from Fleetwood’s ten men to see the game out, but Fleetwood Town almost grabbed a goal when substitute Harvey Saunders latched onto a long ball over the top, but Ross Sykes was able to eventually clear.
Fleetwood were able to grab a consolation goal in added time, after Sykes’ handball led to a spot kick for Madden. The Irishman stepped up and slotted it past Savin, sending him the wrong way.
Andrew had a chance with the last kick of the ball, but his shot flew over the crossbar following a scramble from a corner.
Accrington Stanley XI: Savin (GK), Hughes, Edwards, Sykes, Sherif (Finley 29’), Pritchard (Charles 70’), McConville, Maguire, Barclay (Johnson 86’), Bishop, Carvalho.
Subs not used: Evtimov (GK), Francis-Angol, Rodgers, Bolton.
Fleetwood Town XI: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Andrew, Clarke, Eastham, Burns (Morris 20’), Dempsey, Evans (Saunders 73’), Rossiter, Hunter (Madden 70’), Biggins.
Subs not used: Gilks, Coutts, Sheron, Hill.
Attendance: 923 (89)