Northwich Victoria 3 Fleetwood Town 1.
VICS manager Andy Preece got the better of his old Seasiders team-mate Micky Mellon, as Fleetwood Town bowed out of the FA Trophy at the first-round stage for the second successive season.
Preece’s Vics side, who play two tiers below Town and are second in the Evo-Stik Premier, were worthy winners to avenge a defeat at Highbury in the same competition two seasons ago.
With Town’s FA Cup replay at Yeovil 72 hours later, Mellon made wholesale changes of players, with only three of those who had faced Yeovil in the 2-2 Highbury draw starting.
Mellon and Preece greeted each other warmly before taking up their managerial duties.
The strong winds that had buffeted the country during the week had died down by kick-off, and the game started in bright sunshine at the Victoria Stadium.
Paul Edwards, back for his first game since September 10, conceded a free-kick, which resulted in the first chance of the game, as Nathan Wolfe’s curled set-piece was curled left-footed and tipped over the bar by keeper Danzelle St Louis Hamilton on his full debut.
The Vics played with skill, confidence and plenty of energy, as both Ryan Wade and Jordan Johnson went close with shots.
Another Wolfe free-kick after 20 minutes was saved by St Louis Hamilton, who also did well to block a second shot by skipper Ian Kearney on the rebound.
Town’s keeper was by far the busier by this stage, but Town hit back as Richard Brodie and Gareth Seddon both made their presence felt.
Seddon headed over from an Alan Goodall free-kick and a strong run from Brodie earned a corner.
With 26 minutes gone, the two Town strikers combined as Seddon crossed but Brodie’s header was too high.
Vics retaliated as Wade’s shot was pushed wide for a corner by St Louis Hamilton, and, just after the half hour, Chris Budrys beat the advancing keeper, only to shoot narrowly wide, prompting various accusing gestures among the Town defence.
Despite Vics creating clear chances during the first half, it was Town who took the lead in added time.
Brodie worked the ball well on the right and crossed for Seddon to head his sixth goal of the season from close range.
Sean Clancy replaced Goodall at the start of the second half, but Northwich were unlucky not to equalise when Lewis Short’s cross from the left just eluded Budrys in front of goal.
However, they were soon on terms. Jamie McGuire was penalised for a foul, and Short floated a free-kick, which St Louis Hamilton failed to meet, and Kearney headed home in the 56th minute.
Worse was to come for Town, when Northwich took the lead just seven minutes later, Johnson striking a shot from wide on the left, which sailed straight in.
To complete a disappointing period for Town, Seddon was booked soon afterwards.
Former Northwich defender Kieran Charnock, came on for Steve McNulty after 67 minutes, and Brodie joined Seddon in the referee’s notebook when he felled Michael Roddy.
It nearly got worse for Town after 72 minutes, when Woolfe curled a left-foot shot narrowly wide of the far post.
Glenn Wilson then felled Johnson on the edge of the area in the 76th minute and Wolfe’s magical left foot did the rest, beating St Louis Hamilton to his right.
Each side then made changes as Liam Wynn came on for his first Town appearance of the season.
Town’s defence were caught sleeping, giving Kyle Armstrong a chance, which he wasted from close range after 82 minutes.
Despite defeat, Town will be pleased to have come through the tie with no injury concerns ahead of tomorrow’s replay.
Fleetwood: St Louis Hamilton, Edwards, Wilson, McNulty (Charnock), Wassmer, Goodall (Clancy), Briggs, McGuire (Wynn), Crowther, Seddon, Brodie; not used: Davies, Till
Northwich: Hinchliffe, Disney, Kearney, Smyth, Short, Johnson (Riley), Armstrong, Roddy, Woolfe, Budrys (Clarke), Wade (Ennis); not used: Arron Morrison, Preece
Ref T. Harrington Att: 484