MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood Town 2-2 Leicester U21s (Leicester win on pens)

Chris Long scored and set one up for the Cod Army
Chris Long scored and set one up for the Cod Army
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Ten-man Fleetwood Town were denied a win in their opening EFL Trophy group game against Leicester City U21s, who equalised with the last kick of the game.

Goals in either half from Chris Long and Conor McAleny looked to have wrapped up a comfortable home win for the Cod Army.

But Fleetwood were reduced to 10 men when Cian Bolger brought down Ryan Loft in the penalty area, but the striker missed the subsequent spot kick.

Leicester did get back in it eventually as Loft made up for his miss by flicking home, and the same man smashed home into the roof of the net from close range to complete the comeback in injury time.

The away side won the penalty shootout 7-6 to earn a bonus point for their side, with Eddie Clarke and Kyle Dempsey the unfortunate men to miss for Fleetwood.

Fleetwood, who beat Leicester U21s 3-0 at the same stage of the competition last season, made 10 changes from the weekend’s league match.

Conor McAleny was the only survivor from the 1-1 draw at Sunderland, while the likes of Cian Bolger, Kyle Dempsey and Tommy Spurr were brought into the starting line-up as they looked to force their way back into Joey Barton’s first team plans.

Meanwhile youth-team players James Hill, Ryan Rydel and Dylan Doyle were named on the bench - with the latter two still looking to make their senior debuts.

The Leicester side included first-team regular Danny Simpson, who was famously involved in a war of words with Barton back in 2014. The Foxes also named senior striker Fousseni Diabate in their starting line-up, while England U21 international Hamza Choudhury wore the captain’s armband.

Fleetwood, captained on the night by James Wallace, posed an early threat from Tommy Spurr’s long throws but the youngsters of Leicester managed to survive a couple of shaky moments.

The first shot on goal came Fleetwood’s way as Harrison Biggins flashed an effort through the legs of a Leicester defender, but keeper Victor Johannson did well to get down and make the save.

But it was Leicester who came inches away from taking the lead on 23 minutes when the unmarked Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall smashed an effort against the woodwork after being picked out by Simpson’s cross.

Spurr then made a vital block to deny Diabete who looked to curl home into the empty net after a mix-up in the Fleetwood defence.

On 33 minutes, the Cod Army took the lead after a well-worked move which saw Gethin Jones drill a ball across the face of goal to Chris Long who did well to convert from close range.

As the rain began to lash down at the start of the second half, it looked as though the Foxes were beginning to take the upper hand with Diabate flashing a shot wide of Jones’ right-hand post.

But Fleetwood hit back immediately and claimed a second through McAleny’s smart finish, after Long had robbed centre back Darnell Johnson of possession.

It was a great first-time finish from McAleny, his first of the season, that clipped the post before ending up in the back of the Leicester net.

Long then brought a smart save out of Johannson with a left-footed rasping drive after finding some space in behind Leicester’s backline.

The scorer of Fleetwood’s first goal almost turned provider again as he shrugged off a defender before laying the ball off to Bobby Grant who curled an effort straight at Johannson.

On the hour mark, Fleetwood were reduced to 10 men after Bolger had conceded a penalty for bringing down Loft, who was clean through on goal.

Loft dusted himself down to take the penalty, which he subsequently skied high and wide of Paul Jones’ goal.

It was a huge let-off for Fleetwood, who immediately looked to capitalise on their moment of good fortune when Grant tried his luck from 30 yards but his effort flew just wide of goal.

As was to be expected with a man advantage, the visitors began to dominate possession in the final stages of the match but they struggled to break down Fleetwood’s well-drilled defence and midfield.

Jones was rarely troubled on goal and was a virtual bystander as Leicester remained neat and tidy in possession but did little to penetrate the home side’s back four.

Johnson did blaze one over the bar for Leicester, but Loft made amends for his earlier penalty miss by pulling one back with 10 minutes to go.

Jones was called into action to make a vital pinpoint save to deny substitute Callum Wright, and that looked as though it would prove to be the match winning save.

But Loft struck with the final kick of the game as he lashed home high into the net to earn a point for his side.

Loft scored the winning spot kick as Leicester edged a mammoth penalty shootout, with Clarke and Dempsey missing for the home side.

Fleetwood’s next EFL Trophy group game is against Rochdale, who beat Bury in their opening game, at Highbury on Tuesday, October 9.

TEAMS

Fleetwood: Jones, Clarke, Spurr, Bolger, Jones, Biggins, Wallace (Sheron), Dempsey, Grant (Gardner), McAleny, Long (Boyle)

Subs not used: Cairns, Hill, Rydel, Hunter



Leicester U21s: Johannson, Simpson, Diabate, Knight, Choudhury, Johnson, Kaba Sherif (Martis), Dewsbury-Hall, Loft, Ramsey (Ughelumba), Uche Rubio (Wright)

Subs not used: Davies, Shade, Tee, Leshabela

Referee: Peter Wright