Fleetwood Town 4 Leicester City U21s 1: Hat-trick for Callum Morton in Papa John's Trophy opener
Callum Morton scored his first goals since his summer loan move from West Bromwich Albion in Fleetwood's opening Papa John’s Trophy stroll against Leicester City’s fox cubs.
The 21-year-old striker scored the perfect hat-trick with a right-foot opener after six minutes, a left-foot second before the break and a powerfully headed third two minutes after the restart.
Morton, a regular net-finder during previous loan moves to Northampton and Lincoln, also smashed another effort against the crossbar.
Ryan Edmondson, another close-season loan capture from Leeds United, also opened his Town goal account in the second half before Jake Wakeling’s consolation for the visitors.
Town face divisional rivals Accrington and League Two Barrow in their remaining group games, needing a top-two finish to qualify for the knockout stages of a trophy held by Sunderland.
They were rarely under pressure from their inexperienced visitors who played their part in an entertaining clash.
As he had suggested, Simon Grayson named a strong team for this final game before Town take an 11-day break, with half of the team who had started Saturday's 1-1 draw at Plymouth Argyle again involved from kick-off.
There was debut for Portsmouth loan defender Callum Johnson and first appearance since Boxing Day 2019 for goalkeeper Billy Crellin.
Leicester’s development squad was recognisable only to hardcore football watchers.Only skipper Vontae Daley-Campbell had enjoyed competitive senior action for the club, in last season’s FA Cup win over Brighton & Hove Albion, though Zimbabwean teenager Tawanda Masvanhise was an unused Premier League substitute at Manchester United last season.
Marksman Morton soon set Town en route to victory. The Baggies’ prospect showed predatory instincts, seizing on a poor back to round keeper Bradley Young with ease.
Edmondson should have doubled the lead after 20 minutes. Anthony Pilkington’s free-kick was perfectly delivered but the unmarked striker’s header fractionally missed the target.
The home side’s slick passing and incisive breaks put the visitors under constant pressure.
Little came back in reply until sloppiness let in Ethan Fitzhugh to test Crellin from distance.
Normal service quickly resumed and Leicester enjoyed a double let-off after 29 minutes.
Jay Matete cracked a 20-yarder again the crossbar. with Pilkington side-footing the rebound wide.
The woodwork reverberated once more when Morton latched on to skipper Callum Camps' pass and hit the target from the same distance.
But when Edmondson picked a similar through ball moments later, Morton guided an angled left foot effort for goal number two moments before half-time.
Leicester weren’t completely finished and Wakeling dragged a shot across Crellin’s goal after getting the better of former Foxes defender Darnell Johnson.
Fleetwood quickly re-asserted their authority when the match resumed.
A cross from the Leicester left was headed into the six-yard box by Johnson and Morton did the rest. He received a deserved ovation when withdrawn just before the hour.
Edmondson converted Max Clark’s cross for Town’s fourth goal after 61 minutes.
Crellin’s best moment of an easy return to Town’s first team was a smart save from Callum Hulme’s long-distance piledriver before Wakeling denied the goalie a clean sheet.
In the night's other Group G opener, Accrington beat Barrow on penalties after a 2-2 draw
Fleetwood: Crellin, D Johnson (Biggins 72), C Johnson, Holgate, Hill, Camps (Garner 72), Matete, Clark, Pilkington (Morris 84), Edmondson, Morton (Hayes 59); Subs not used: Wright, Rossiter, Teale.
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