A night to forget for Fleetwood Town after suffering a 4-1 defeat to Wycombe Wanderers in the first leg of the Sky Bet League One play-off semi-finals at Highbury.
Three goals in the first six minutes was only the start of the game, with Ched Evans’ equaliser being cancelled out by an Alex Cairns own goal, after Nnamdi Ofoborh’s opener. To make matters worse Lewie Coyle saw red later on in the first half, before David Wheeler made it 3-1 right before the break.
Fleetwood began the second half the brighter of the two teams, but Wycombe extended their lead when Alex Samuel hit a loose ball into an open goal. In the 85th minute, Fleetwood saw their second red card of the game, when Paddy Madden received two yellow cards in quick succession.
It was an extremely eventful start at Highbury Stadium, with the Cod Army suffering an early goal, inside the first two minutes.
Ofoborh received the ball just outside the box and met it with a first-time strike that found the back of the net after Matt Bloomfield picked him out from the right-wing.
Just two minutes later, Fleetwood Town won a penalty after Lewis Gibson was brought down in the box by Ryan Allsop, following a Barrie Mckay free-kick. Evans was the man to stand over the penalty kick, and hit it home – sending the keeper the wrong way and levelling the scores – his 11th goal this season.
The visitors made it 2-1 when Joe Jacobson swung in a corner which seemed to have been taken by the wind and ended up bouncing off of Cairns and into the net.
The dramatic start to the game continued to carry on, when Lewie Coyle saw red in the 32nd minute for a strong tackle on Jacobson, after it seemed he won the ball. The fifth red card the referee, Tony Harrington, has shown this campaign.
Jacobson stood over the penalty and hit it hard and low to the right but Cairns denied him with a brilliant save, before another emphatic stop to deny the rebound from Wheeler.
Five minutes of added time were shown and Wycombe were able to extend their lead, scoring their third of the game in the 48th minute through Wheeler.
Fleetwood Town came out the blocks, at half-time, with Kyle Dempsey being the only change, coming on for Callum Connolly – meaning a change in shape for the Cods.
Despite trailing by two goals, Fleetwood continued to play the ball around confidently, and it wasn’t long before Wes Burns found space to burst into, but his delivery into the box wasn’t met by anybody.
In the 57th minute, the Chairboys extended their lead. Cairns came to collect the ball in the air through a crowd of players but didn’t manage to claim it. The ball fumbled its way to Samuel who slotted it into the open goal.
Cairns did well to stop the visitors from going further ahead after Fred Onyedinma met Samuel’s through ball before hitting it goalwards. A great stop.
There was a huge shout for a Fleetwood penalty after Madden was brought down in the box, but the referee deemed him to have dived and booked him for simulation. However, the Irish striker then saw a second yellow card for dissent soon after.
A night to forget for Fleetwood Town, but there’s still another leg to go, anything can happen.
Fleetwood Town: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Connolly (Dempsey 46’), Souttar, Burns, Evans, Morris (Andrew 36’), Whelan, Coutts (C) (Madden 65’), Gibson, McKay (Saunders 77’).
Subs: Gilks (GK), Southam-Hales, Biggins, Sowerby, Hill.
Wycombe Wanderers: Allsop (GK), Jacobson (Pattison 80’), Gape, Stewart, Wheeler (Freeman 90’), Bloomfield (C), Grimmer, Charles, Onyedinma (Thompson 87’), Samuel (Kashket 80’), Ofoborh (Akinfenwa 87’).
Subs: Stockdale (GK), Phillips, Smyth, Parker.