Crawley Town 1 Fleetwood Town 2: Joey Barton’s players book their place in FA Cup third round
Josh Morris netted his ninth of the campaign to put Fleetwood in front, and although Ollie Palmer equalised just before half-time, the Cod Army carried the greater threat in front of goal.
That was highlighted when Paddy Madden made it 2-1 a couple of minutes after coming on midway through the second half with his 15th goal of the season.
Crawley huffed and puffed but Fleetwood will deservedly be in Monday night’s third round draw for the fourth season running.
After a bright start by the hosts, Barton’s men gradually began to impose themselves.
Josh Morris nearly scored in the 18th minute only to be denied by his namesake Glenn, the Crawley goalkeeper, who got a touch when the Town man seemed certain to convert Wes Burns’ cross.
Without creating a clear-cut chance Fleetwood started to stretch the home defence and get on top.
They went in front through a well-worked goal in the 41st minute.
Burns stood up a cross, the impressive Ched Evans headed it on and Josh Morris stole in at the far post to score from a tight angle.
Two minutes later, Glenn Morris saved Kyle Dempsey’s powerful strike at the second attempt after more good approach work by Evans, but seconds later, Crawley had a surprise equaliser.
Neither Ashley Eastham or Harry Souttar dealt with a routine long ball, former Fleetwood striker Ashley Nadesan flicked it on and Palmer hammered a right-foot volley past Billy Crellin from eight yards.
Crawley, not surprisingly, began the second half with their tails up.
Eastham made amends to prevent Palmer from turning in Reece Grego-Cox’s cross and Crellin had to save David Sesay’s shot.
However, within two minutes of coming on, Madden had restored Fleetwood’s lead with what will be his easiest finish of the season.
Lewie Coyle stood up a cross, Glenn Morris fumbled the ball under pressure from Evans and it dropped for Madden to sidefoot home from a couple of yards out.
The home side nearly produced an immediate response when Palmer laid the ball into the path of Dannie Bulman, whose right-foot drive missed the far post by inches.
At the other end, Madden almost profited again when Josh Doherty gave the ball away 20 yards out and the striker’s effort flew wide.
Evans was a handful for the Crawley defence throughout and his powerful header dropped just wide, while Madden’s head was in his hands when a glancing header from Paul Coutts’ cross dropped just wide.
Crawley’s top scorer Bez Lubala twice went close to a second equaliser but it was Fleetwood’s greater threat in the final third through Josh Morris, Evans and Madden which was decisive.
Crawley Town: Morris, Young, Tunnicliffe, Dallison-Lisbon, Sesay (Doherty 68), Francomb (Ferguson 78), Grego-Cox, Nadesan, Bulman, Lubala, Palmer. Subs not used: Nathaniel-George, Enigbokan, Bloomfield, Sendles-White, Camara, Luyambula.
Fleetwood Town: Crellin, Coyle, Andrew, Eastham, Souttar, Burns (Madden 64), Dempsey, Morris, Coutts, Evans (Garner 90), Sowerby. Subs not used: Cairns, Clarke, McAleny, Hunter, Biggins.
Referee: Matthew Donohue.
Attendance: 2,000 (138 Fleetwood fans).