Fleetwood Town’s Papa Johns Trophy run came to an end at Highbury on Tuesday night even after winning their game against Manchester United Under-21s on penalties.
Second half goals from Carlos Mendes Gomes and Joe Garner looked like they were enough to pick up three points in the cup clash, but an injury-time goal from Shola Shoretire meant the game would go to penalties. Jakub Stolarczyk saved two to give us a platform, with Cian Hayes scoring the winning penalty soon after.
Town started the game the better side as they created multiple chances in the opening minutes. The first came from Max McMillan who cut in from the left and fired an effort towards goals, but it was cleverly blocked by the visiting defence and cleared.
It didn’t stop there though as Joe Garner then had tow quickfire chances, heading Dan Batty’s corner kick on target, forcing a save out of Nathan Bishop, before he tried his luck from range, but fired wide of the far post.
J.Garner could have opened the scoring after connecting with a deep free-kick soon after, but it was the Red Devils who did break the deadlock not long after this. Harrison Holgate thought he had won the ball in the box, but the referee waved for a penalty, which McNeill converted.
Just before the half-time break, the young Devils had one more chance as Isak Hansen-Aaroen played the ball across a packed Fleetwood box to Sam Murray, whose effort was blocked and cleared by Holgate. Town then went down the other end and Hayes forced a save out of Bishop.
Scott Brown’s side came out after the break looking the better side as they worked two chances from the off which troubled Bishop between the sticks. United then went down the other end of the pitch with Omari Forson, who cut in from the right and fired just wide of the far post.
After a cluster of changes for both sides, it was Town pressure that made all the difference as they managed to turn the game on its head. Mendes Gomes found the back of the net to level the game up as his chance beat the goalkeeper after a deflection from the United defence.
Then, J.Garner added onto that just five minutes later as he picked up the ball in the corner of the box and delicately chipped the ball over the crowded area and into the top corner, leaving Bishop no chance, making the game 2-1.
Knowing that they needed to win by two, the pressure carried on as Bishop spilt Paddy Lane’s shot from 20-yards into the path of Shaun Rooney, but he was stopped by a defender who cleared the ball only to Sam Glenfield whose shot went wide of the mark.
With not long to go, it was fluid football from two young Cods as Hayes dribbled past a couple before picking out Carl Johnston on the edge of the box, who turned brilliantly, however, his effort flew over the bar.
It was heartbreak at the end as United pulled it back to level terms in added time. Tom Huddlestone, who came off the bench midway through the second half, played a perfect pass to Shoretire who turned a fired the ball into the back of the net meaning penalties were added to the agenda.
Johnston, J.Garner, Rooney, and Lane all beat Bishop from the spot with Stolarczyk saving spot kicks from Joe Hugill and Shoretire. Hayes stepped up to take the all-important penalty, which he passed into the bottom right corner.
Town XI: Stolarczyk (GK), J.Garner, Holgate, Hayes, Batty (Lane 65’), Rooney (C), Johnston, Boyle (Vela 46’), J.Edwards (Earl 46’), McMillan (Mendes Gomes 46’), Glenfield.
Unused subs: McMullen (GK), Teale, Baker, Raffie.
United XI: Bishop (GK), Shoretire, Savage (Collyer 46’), McNeill (Hugill 66’), Jurado, Hardley (Mengi 66’), Bennett (C), Forson (Oyedele 87’), Hansen-Aaroen (Huddlestone 66’), Mainoo, Murray.
Unused subs: Mastny (GK), Fredricson.