Bury 3 Fleetwood 4

Highbury Stadium
Highbury Stadium
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Fleetwood Town blew away any doubts about their scoring potential - on the right end of a seven goal thriller at Gigg Lane.

A defensive masterclass it was not - both sides woeful inside their own 18 yard box.

But Fleetwood’s fans, worried about their prospects for the campaign surely won’t care - four of the best from Fleetwood, despite going behind after just four minutes.

Town had looked lacking when it counted in Saturday’s defeat at Oldham - reason enough to ring the changes up front.

Declan McManus and Jamille Matt were both casualties of Graham Alexander’s reshuffle - David Ball and Jamie Proctor the men entrusted with transforming Fleetwood’s fortunes in front of goal.

They weren’t the only pair to pay for Fleetwood’s painful profligacy only a few miles down the road.

Eggert Jonsson, who has looked uncomfortable at centre half from day one, was absent, Conor McLaughlin moving inside to cover his defensive berth, Tyler Forbes making his first start of the new campaign at wing back.

In midfield too there were changes, Bobby Grant, anonymous at best at the weekend, dropping to the bench to sit alongside a back-in-favour Nick Haughton, Lyle Della Verde the man handed a starting spot.

The lack of goals seemed the least of Fleetwood’s problems in the opening five minutes - Town’s finishing problem put on the backburned as they conceded the softest of soft goals.

A punt forward, more than a hint of handball as Leon Clarke controlled the ball and the mother of all mix ups between Stephen Jordan and Chris Maxwell.

Clarke wasn’t going to give up such a golden opportunity - looping the ball over Maxwell and into the net - less than four minutes gone and Fleetwood already chasing the game.

Not an ideal situation for a team lacking in confidence and a manager under increasing pressure from a fanbase not used to mediocrity.

But the visitors took to their task admirably, clever midfield play from Antoni Sarcevic and Jimmy Ryan keeping the Shakers under pressure.

Indeed the hosts were hardly out of their own penalty area, never mind their own half - pinned back as Town enjoyed a string of corners, gradually creeping closer and closer to finding the net.

And at the seventh attempt they did, Sarcevic’s cross met by an unmarked Conor McLaughlin, his header angled down past Christopher Walton and into the net.

What happened next was inexplicable - Town almost presuming it was job done, taking their foot off the gas and made to pay.

A player the quality of Chris Hussey shouldn’t be allowed the space granted to Bury’s left back, Tyler Forbes nowhere to be seen as a deep cross was swung in from the channel.

And a striker with the pedigree of Tom Pope can’t be left unmarked at the back post, Fleetwood exposed once more, Clarke prodding home to put the brakes on Fleetwood’s fightback.

It was an astonishing scoreline given Fleetwood’s domination of possession and creativity inside the Bury half.

But Graham Alexander’s men, to their credit, didn’t let their heads drop.

Ball and Sarcevic in particular were causing the hosts trouble, fed a constant supply of space by Town’s Duracell bunny Jimmy Ryan.

And, in what was becoming an astonishing game, they carved out a second equaliser.

Amari’i Bell finally showed what many had suspected, he can deliver a killer ball from the left.

Ball’s neat pass picked out the wing back, Jamie Proctor the target, Walton out to clear from the feet of the hitman, straight into the path of Forbes who, with the goal at his mercy, made no mistake to grab his first goal in the professional game.

It was no less than Fleetwood deserved

Indeed, things could have been even better, Lyle Della-Verde almost providing the perfect ending to a difficult half when he picked up on Bell’s pass.

His touch was loose but so was Bury’s defending, the midfielder striding in and blazing a shot goalwards, uanble to tuck his effort under the woodwork or pick out a man at the back post.

Surely the second half couldn’t live up to such an action packed affair.

They early signs were that the teams had blown each other out.

Fleetwood seemed to have lost a little of their fire, playing more percentage balls and struggling to retain possession as a result.

Not that Bury could really benefit, the combination Hussey and Maher still their best outlet.

Maher sent Fleetwood hearts into mouths when he once again left Forbes in his wake, Maxwell spilling for a second before recovering to shut down the Bury advance.

It looked like drifting towards a draw - right up to the moment Antoni Sarcevic strode into the Shakers box.

The odds looked stacked against him but Sarcevic wasn’t a man to be trifled with, carrying on with his run as Bury’s defender tumbled off the pitch.

Everybody was waiting for the flag but on charged Sarcevic, driving a low ball across the face which Ball missed but Proctor was able to unceremoniously bundle home.

It was, on the balance, what Fleetwood deserved - even if their second half display had lacked the fire of the opening 45 minutes.

The Shakers looked, well, shaken - struggling to keep composure around their own box.

Andrew Tutte showed it as he let the ball run too far, conceding a soft corner.

And Shakers skipper Nathan Cameron showed it with two pushes inside the box, one of Proctor which went unpunished, a second on Lyle Della-Verde spotted.

Antoni Sarcevic it was with the penalty, Town’s captain making no mistake, seemingly putting the game beyond the Shakers.

Or so it seemed.

Sub Danny Rose had other ideas, helped again by poor defending from Fleetwood, Stephen Jordan missing both the header and the return ball, Bury able to smash the ball past Maxwell - another extraordinary twist.

On came Jamiille Matt - fresh legs and a physical presence for Fleetwood and a man to take the ball to the corner flag.

There he eked out two precious minutes for Town - Bury frustrated, three men waiting for an attack which never came.

Never have Fleetwood’s young players had so much work to do in five short minutes - added time a drama in itself with Cameron doing his best to earn a swift red card.

His angry confrontation with Jordan summed up a night which was at times bizarre at times majestic - edgy, entertaining and in the end rewarding for the near 300 Fleetwood fans who made the trip.

Town have questions to answer of their defending but right now just pause and enjoy four goals and three vital points on the board.