Fleetwood Town exit the Leasing.com Trophy after penalty shootout heartbreak against Accrington Stanley on Tuesday night.
Failing to capitalise on great opportunities, Joey Barton’s side drop out at the third round of the Leasing.com Trophy after goals Stanley left it take to equaliser through Ross Sykes after Josh Morris and Danny Andrew put Town in the lead.
The first half saw little action as the well-matched teams locked horns for the third time this season. An early effort from Morris after the third minute saw Reds’ keeper Josef Bursik palming his effort just wide of the left post.
After a scrappy first fifteen minutes, Accrington Stanley earned a dangerous freekick on the right flank, which was met by Australian International Harry Souttar and cleared to safety.
Souttar was in action again, this time in the opposition’s box as Morris teased in a free-kick to the back post where Bursik and Souttar both challenged for the ball, with the goalkeeper coming out on top.
In the 27 minute, a strange encounter occurred as the assistant on the far side was gifted a new flag.
Joe Pritchard gave John Coleman’s side the lead in the 35th minute. After Town failed to clear their lines, the midfielder was there to prod it home to give his side the lead.
Town had to regroup and go again, and nearly got straight back into the game thanks to another trademark Morris shot from the right wing, this time flashing past the left post.
After that, the teams headed into the break with Accrington leading proceeding 1-0 at a windy Highbury Stadium.
Joey Barton’s team talk seemed to have worked wonders as Town came out all guns blazing and after some heavy pressure, The Cod Army struck back.
After short corner from Jack Sowerby, Morris whipped in a low cross that found its way to the back post and straight in to bring The Cod Army level.
The goal galvanized Town as they continued to press the Stanley back line and looked dangerous in front of goal.
In the 55th minute, Accrington had a break down the left wing with Pritchard whizzing a ball through the 6 yard box, only to find Souttar at the back post.
A challenge by Alese in the 67th minute gave Danny Andrew the opportunity to have an effort on goal from a free-kick on the right side, and boy did he take it!
A left foot curling effort into the top right corner saw goalkeeper Bursik rooted to the spot. Andrew will cherish that one, an effort even the gaffer would be proud of!
After a lively runout for Morris, he was taken off to a deserved applause from the crowd at the 75 minute mark to be replaced top-goal scorer, Paddy Madden.
Harvey Rodgers came on for Callum Johnson as Colman used his last throw of the dice to get back into the game.
But it was Alex Cairns who was called into action after a scare from the right wing as Reds’ De Souza whipped a ball into the box. Cairns parried the ball into a melee of players in the six yard box, but Town’s defenders scramble the ball clear to keep the side in the lead.
Rodgers misjudged a high ball and let marksman Paddy Madden in one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but failed to capitalise on the glorious opportunity – The home side were to rue missing this opportunity.
Stanley then counter and after an initial parried shot. Reds defender Sykes stabbed the ball home to grab the equaliser to bring the game all square.
And there was a final late scare for Town as a long ball and chest down saw Stanley hit the bar with the last effort of the 90 minutes as the game heads to a penalty shootout.
After some good penalties from both sides, Sam Finley stepped up and scored the final one to secure Accrington’s win. The Reds are now through to the quarter finals of the EFL Trophy after a tightly fought game.
Town XI: Cairns (GK), Southam-Hales (Coyle 62’), Eastham (C), Souttar, Andrew, Biggins, Sowerby, Matete (Dempsey 62’), Saunders, McAleny, Morris (Madden 75’).
Subs not used: Gilks (GK), Biggins, Hill, Garner.
Accrington Stanley XI: Bursik (GK), Johnson (Rodgers 84’), Sykes, Barclay (Carvalho 61’), Opoku, Alese, Conneely (C), Finley, Pritchard, Charles, Zanzala (De Sousa 82’).
Subs not used: Evtimov (GK), Hughes, Kaba Sherif, Maguire.
Attendance: 548 (181 away)