It was far from pretty but 10-man Fleetwood gritted their teeth and found a way to win thanks to super sub Jack Sowerby.
Fleetwood fought back from the dead just as it looked like they were staring down the barrel of a shock exit to National League North side Chorley at Victory Park.
Marcus Carver had given the hosts the lead in the 69th minute and it went from bad to worse with Fleetwood’s Lewie Coyle sent off for a horror challenge on Jake Cottrell.
Chorley looked on course for a giant-killing but Rosler’s substitutions made a difference once again with Wes Burns making an impact off the bench to whip the ball into Devante Cole to nod home and then Sowerby stole the show with a first-time effort in injury time after George Glendon played a magical defence-splitting pass to send him one-on-one with Chorley’s Cardiff loan star Oliver Byrne who made his debut due to the absence of the Magpies’ normal keeper Fleetwood loanee Matty Urwin who like Nick Haughton was ineligible to play against their parent club.
Fleetwood Town boss Uwe Rosler made two changes for the cup clash at Chorley.
Skipper Nathan Pond returned to the side in place of Baily Cargill, though it is understood his parent club, Bournemouth, did give him permission to play.
Aiden O’Neill was given permission to play by his parent club Burnley and came into the midfield three in place of the injured Bobby Grant (knee). Town’s other loan stars Lewie Coyle (Leeds) and Jordy Hiwula (Huddersfield) were also eligible to feature with Coyle starting and Hiwula on the bench.
Uwe Rosler said Conor McAleny has been back in training but he was not fit enough to feature.
Chorley dominated the opening stages but lacked that little creative edge that is normally provided by ineligible Town loanee Haughton.
The Magpies managed to nullify the threat of the League One side with Josh Wilson having the first clear-cut chance of the day though his effort from distance fizzed past the right post. Chorley continued to control the game but just could not find that goal their play deserved though it nearly arrived in flukey fashion as Adam Blakeman’s set-piece from just inside the Chorley half on the right bounced awkwardly in front of Alex Cairns who was wrong-footed but recovered to collect with ease.
The National League North side nearly paid the price for not rewarding their good play with a goal as Fleetwood showed their Football League pedigree.
Ash Hunter found space on the left and whipped the ball into the six-yard box for Cole to scoop home though as he wheeled away the assistant referee raised his flag and the goal was chalked off.
It was a warning to the Magpies and a sign of how clinical this Rosler side can be if you give them a sight of goal.
Fleetwood defender Cian Bolger was in the wars as he received treatment for a bloody nose but he soon recovered.
Cottrell smashed an effort wide but Town went close up the other end with the lively Hunter’s cross/shot just dropping off target with a black and white shirt mopping up in front of Amari’i Bell.
It was less than thrilling for the neutral and Rosler would have been frustrated his side did not give Chorley debutant Byrne a save to make as the half ended all square.
Fleetwood started the second half brightly with O’Neill acrobatically flinging himself through the air to nod Coyle’s cross off target. But Chorley were still a threat and Jason Walker nearly snuck in before Fleetwood cleared the danger.
Hunter forced 19-year-old rookie keeper Byrne into a smart save as he tipped a fierce strike that flew through a crowd of bodies.
Despite the lively start by Fleetwood it was Chorley who took the lead against the run of play.
A rare mistake by Ash Eastham saw him whack a clearance into his fellow central defender Pond. Walker was first to react to the loose ball and he unselfishly slid in his fellow forward Carver, who found himself one-on-one with Cairns and showed his previous Football League pedigree with a fine finish as he curled the ball home in the 59th minute.
Rosler responded by initially deploying Hiwula in place of Pond before also throwing Wes Burns on for O’Neill.
It went from bad to worse for Town as Coyle was sent off for a horror challenge on Cottrell deep in Chorley’s half as he missed the ball and connected with Cottrell’s shin.
The challenge caused a melee on the sidelines with the crowd and Chorley players furious with the tackle, the referee took his time but eventually showed the straight red in the 69th minute.
That red saw Burns move back into an unnatural right wing-back position although it actually paid dividends as the forward turned full-back had a whale of a time on the right flank and whipped in a peach of a cross to put the ball on a plate for Cole to nod home his ninth of the season in the 77th minute.
Rosler threw on Sowerby for Hunter to allow Burns to return to his natural attacking role and Fleetwood despite their man disadvantage looked the team more likely to go on and win the clash in the dying embers with Burns blasting over.
And it was to be Town’s day as Chorley just lost out in added time. Glendon played a fantastic defence-splitting pass up towards sub Sowerby, who only had Byrne to beat and flicked the ball past him to break Magpies hearts.
Fleetwood: Cairns, Bolger, Pond, Eastham, Coyle, Dempsey, Glendon, O’Neill, Bell, Cole, Hunter. Subs: Neal, Biggins, Sowerby, Hiwula, Burns, Rodgers, Schwabl.
Chorley: Byrne, Challoner, Blakeman, Teague, Leather, Jordan, O’Keefe, Wilson, Carver, Walker, Cottrell. Subs: Charnock, Beesley, Jarvis, Azam, Anson, Black,Darr.