Fleetwood Town 2, Tamworth 1
Magno Vieira’s late penalty snatched a victory which lifted Fleetwood Town back into the play-off zone after an erratic display against strugglers Tamworth at Highbury.
Town looked to be heading for a tenth 1-1 draw of their debut Blue Square Bet Premier campaign in the spring sunshine until substitute Vieira’s 86th-minute winner sealed a third consecutive win to catapult Micky Mellon’s side above Kidderminster into fifth position.
Top scorer Vieira had won the penalty himself. Just inside the box with his back to goal, the Brazilian was tripped in a clumsy challenge by Tamworth centre-back Tom Marshall and went down with a flourish.
Marshall received a yellow card from referee Peter Bankes as did Lambs keeper Liam Mitchell for his protests before Vieira struck the penalty into the bottom left-hand corner, beyond the reach of the diving Mitchell.
Town had found themselves facing yet another league draw because of a highly contentious Tamworth equaliser on 66 minutes. A ball over the top to striker Jason Bradley brought a correct offside flag from the linesman.
Bradley then raised his hands to signal his inactivity as onside winger Danny Thomas ran on to the ball down the left side, pausing to listen for the official’s whistle.
But the whistle never came as referee Bankes bizarrely motioned for play to continue while the Fleetwood defence looked on.
Thomas needed no second invitation to surge unchallenged into the box and rifle a left-footed shot across Town keeper Danny Hurst into the top right corner of the net.
Town had looked much the better side in the first half, creating numerous chances without playing with any real fluency.
Tamworth looked toothless as the experienced centre-back pairing of captain Stephen McNulty and Sean Gregan snuffed out any attacks with ease.
Mellon paid tribute to the duo’s massive contribution, revealing he had given them some “stick” three or four games ago but was happy with their response.
Fleetwood took the lead in the 34th minute after a neat interchange between Keigan Parker, recalled to the starting lined up in preference to Jamie Mullan, and Jamie McGuire down the right side.
McGuire received the ball and came inside, twisting round one defender and then back across another before slotting a crisp right-footed shot into the bottom left corner.
The Lambs came out for the second half rejuvenated and applied concerted pressure.
On 58 minutes, Tamworth right-back Richard Tait cut inside to fire a warning with a left-footed strike from 20 yards which was deflected against Danny Hurst’s left post.
Thomas’ equaliser after 66 minutes, however contentious, was the culmination of this pressure and the away side pushed for a second.
Lively Tamworth substitute Jake Sheridan caused trouble for Town down the right wing, and on 80 minutes he struck a measured half-volley from 15 yards which was blocked on the line by skipper McNulty.
Town had chances too as McNulty advanced to the opposite end to see a header cleared off the line.
Nathan Pond’s effort landed on the roof of the net just before he made way for Burnley loan midfielder Alex-Ray Harper’s home debut.
Vieira’s first penalty of the season and his first goal for six weeks sealed the win which meant Fleetwood climbed a place courtesy of Kidderminster’s home draw with Luton.
With five huge games to go, Town make their longest journey of the season this Saturday to the Sussex coast to face an Eastbourne side that won at Highbury in February .
Fleetwood: Hurst, Beeley, Brown, McNulty, Gregan, Barry (Mullan 821), Pond (Harvey 71), Clancy, McGuire, Parker, Donnelly (Vieira 55); not used: Davie, Cavanagh
Tamworth: L Mitchell, Tait, Marshall, Courtney, Wylde, Thomas, Lake-Gaskin (Hendrie 80), J Bradley, D Bradley, Smith (Wilkinson 61), Farrell (Sheridan 35); not used: A Mitchell, Barrow,
Referee: P Bankes; Att: 1,580