Fleetwood midfielder Jimmy Ryan continued his return from injury by playing 45 minutes in the development squad’s Lancashire FA Molson Coors Senior Cup win over Blackburn Rovers. Town won the semi-final 4-3 on penalties last night.
Ryan has been out of action since injuring a foot in the 2-1 defeat at Port Vale in November, but after resuming training with the first-team squad last week the 28-year-old made his return to competitive action at Ewood Park.
Ryan skippered the side and was replaced at the break as Town fought back from a goal down to draw 1-1 at full-time.
Sixteen-year-old home-grown keeper Billy Crellin was the hero in the shoot-out.
Ryan’s return is a boost to Town going into their League One play-off semi-final first leg with Bradford tomorrow night.
As Ryan eased his way back, Fleetwood should have led at the break after Alex Reid clattered a post, Elliot Osborne forced a blue and white shirt to divert his cross from the left on to the left post and Nathan Sheron wasted a golden opportunity one-on-one from an Osborne set-piece.
And Fleetwood paid the price for those missed opportunities as Blackburn’s half-time substitute Stefan Mols pounced in the box when Town failed to clear. Mols drilled the ball into the bottom left corner in the 59th minute.
Reid levelled for Town eight minutes later as he nodded home Joe Maguire’s cross.
The tie went to penalties, with Kieran Wallace giving Town the lead.
Blackburn’s Willem Tomlinson saw his spot-kick saved by Crellin and a Town triallist made it 2-0 before Callum Wright pulled one back.
Fleetwood forward Ashley Nadesan missed his penalty, enabling Lewis Hardcastle to level for Rovers.
Osborne put Fleetwood 3-2 up before Joe Rankin-Costello equalised for Rovers.
Gerard Garner made it 4-3 to Town and then the heroic Crellin stopped Lewis Mansell’s effort to seal a date with Liverpool in the final.
Fleetwood: Crellin, triallist, Maguire, Holgate, Sheron, Wallace, Ryan (triallist, 46), Osborne, Nadesan, Sowerby (Garner, 70), Reid (Kerrigan, 70); subs not used: Mooney, Turner.
Blackburn: Fisher, Travis, Thompson, Tomlinson, Magloire, Grayson (Doyle, 70), Thomson (Wright, 83), Hardcastle, Mansell, Butterworth (Mols, 46), Rankin-Costello; subs not used: Powell, Evans.