Fleetwood defeat Liverpool Under-21 on penalties for first EFL Trophy win

Peter Clarke opens the scoring for Fleetwood against Liverpool U21
Peter Clarke opens the scoring for Fleetwood against Liverpool U21
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Fleetwood's Leasing.com Trophy hopes remain well and truly alive following a 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory against Liverpool Under-21s at Highbury.

READ MORE: Front-foot football the way forward for Barton
After defeat in their opening Northern Group B game at Accrington Stanley, the Cod Army secured a bonus point thanks to Matt Gilks' two penalty saves in the shoot-out following a 1-1 draw .

With one group stage game left to play - against League Two Oldham - Town will now fancy their chances of progressing to the knockout stages of the competition.

Fleetwood boss Joey Barton made a full 11 changes to the side which beat Rochdale in League One on Saturday.

There was plenty of of senior experience in his side but youth was definitely the flavour of the night against Liverpool's very young guns.

For the hosts, midfielder Barry Baggley and frontman Harvey Saunders were in for maiden senior starts, while defender Harrison Holgate made his full debut.

Liverpool fielded a very youthful side, with their 'first-team' squad being in action in the Carabao Cup third round at MK Dons.

Peter Clarke took a nasty-looking whack to the head after only three minutes.

The Fleetwood centre-back, who lost his place in Barton's senior side last weekend, resumed after some treatment but the incident highlighted his commitment to the cause and to the Leasing.com competition.

Liverpool threatened first, with Layton Stewart fluffing a great opportunity after he'd been smartly teed up by Tony Gallacher.

The woodwork then got in the way of a Fleetwood opener. Ash Hunter lifted a through-ball to Saunders, but after rounding keeper Ben Winterbottom the youngster could only guide his shot disappointingly against a post.

Dan Mooney tried his luck from range but his strike drifted harmlessly wide.

In the end, chances had been minimal at either end during what proved to be a rather cagey and goalless opening 45 minutes, but the young Cod Army starlets had coped admirably with anything Liverpool's technically gifted hopefuls had been able to throw at them.

Liverpool emerged for the second period with the bit between their teeth and twice they came close in the opening four minutes.

Thomas Hill saw a shot deflected inches past the post, while Gallacher fizzed a cracking effort just wide.

The hosts' riposte came from Hunter, who turned neatly inside on to his right foot before seeing a well-struck effort saved well by Winterbottom.

After that there was another lull in proceedings, with possession being the chief priority for both sides and neither goal being seriously threatened.

Liverpool produced some neat approach play but lacked a finish as Gallacher blazed wildly over from an acute angle.

Just as the game was looking as though it may have been heading for penalties, Town made the breakthrough in the 76th minute.

From Baggley's corner, Eastham cushioned a header neatly into veteran Clarke's path and he tapped home from barely a yard out.

It only took two minutes for Liverpool to level, however, with Neco Williams drilling home from 15 yards to refocus the prospect of a shoot-out.

That's exactly how it panned out in the end, with Barton's side prevailing 4-3.

Fleetwood: Gilks 7, Holgate 6 (Garner 46, 6), Clarke 8, Eastham 7, Rydel 8, Sowerby 7 (Matete 68, 7), Sheron 7, Baggley 7, Mooney 6, Saunders 6, Hunter 6 (Morris 68, 6).

Subs not used: Cairns, Hill, Johnston, Smith.

Referee: Martin Coy