REPORT: Wanderers v Fleetwood Town

A Kieran Lee goal was enough to take Wanderers into the last 16 of the Papa John’s Trophy as they finished the month as they started.

Victory at Rochdale in their final group game of the competition kick-started a November revival for Ian Evatt’s men who lost just two of their eight games in a hectic run.

They didn’t hit any great heights against a very youthful Fleetwood side but did what was required to maintain an interest in a competition they can now park until the new year.

And the possibility of a run to Wembley also remains if Wanderers can get players back fit and potentially add to their squad in the January transfer window to try and keep firing on two fronts.

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Evatt showed his intent - as well as limited options in an injury-hit squad - by naming a strong starting line-up showing just two changes to the side that had extended Wanderers’ unbeaten home run to five games with last Saturday’s draw with Cheltenham Town.

Skipper Ricardo Almeida Santos and forward Elias Kachunga were given a breather, with the in-form Kachunga named on the bench alongside Nathan Delfouneso and three teenagers.

Fleetwood, by comparison, went young as interim manager Stephen Crainey kept more than one eye on their weekend League One date with Accrington Stanley, when Wanderers will got a short breather before facing the Cod Army again in the league next Tuesday night.

But despite the gulf in experience, Wanderers didn’t have it all their own way in a low-key start.

Not surprisingly, the Whites saw most of the ball but didn’t take immediate advantage as Fleetwood’s energy and organisation kept them in the game.

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Former Wanderers’ loanee Billy Crellin wasn’t seriously tested in the opening half-hour, with the hosts’ most threatening moments coming from two efforts from Declan John – an ever-willing outlet down the Whites’ left flank.

But with 34 minutes gone the breakthrough came when Dapo Afolayan fed the ball forward for Eoin Doyle to tee up Lee to sweep a first-time shot into the bottom corner from just inside the penalty area to claim his fourth goal of the season.

That did little to deflate the visitors, although a second goal early in the second half might have done as the Lee-Doyle combination clicked again.

This time Lee was the provider and Doyle went close with a decent effort superbly saved by Crellin before Afolayan – back after suspension – curled an effort inches wide from 20 yards out.

Wanderers needed the breathing space of a more comfortable lead and with 20 minutes to go Evatt sent for fresh legs with a triple substitution to try and see the job through.

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Xav Amaechi sent an effort skidding just wide but Fleetwood weren’t out of the tie and 10 minutes to go substitute Chris Conn-Clarke went close from long range with an effort Joel Dixon touched over the top.

From the corner that followed, Dixon had to save again with a sharp block from Cian Hayes to keep the prospect of penalties at bay.

The lively Conn-Clarke then fired just over the bar from 18 yards but Wanderers had just enough to get over the line, using their full quota of five substitutes with the introduction of youth teamers Mitch Henry and Matthew Tweedley for the final few minutes, included seven added on in injury time.

Wanderers: Dixon; Aimson, Baptiste, Johnston; Gordon, Lee (Pettifer 70), Thomason, John (Delfouneso 70); Amaechi (Henry 84), Doyle (Kachunga 70), Afolayan (Tweedley 84). Substitutes: Gilks.

Booked: None

Fleetwood: Crellin; Johnston, Bird, McLaughlin (Teale HT), Clark; Hayes, Baggley, Boyle, Biggins (Raffie 75); Edmondson, McMillan (Conn-Clarke 61). Substitutes: Rees, Thompson, Edwards, Batch.

Booked: Biggins, Clark, Teale

Referee: Benjamin Speedie

Attendance: 1,773 (165 Fleetwood)


Read Time: 4 mins