Fleetwood Town 1 Hayes & Yeading 1
Town hit the bar four times, and ended this hugely frustrating 1-1 draw with lowly Hayes & Yeading United with 10 men.
Substitute Nathan Pond saw red within three minutes of coming off the bench as Micky Mellon’s side squandered numerous chances in a breathless encounter at Highbury.
The upshot was more points dropped against a side in the relegation zone, though the London side club are now unbeaten in three games, despite letting a three-goal lead slip against Rushden & Diamonds last Tuesday.
They arrived at Highbury without striker Elliott Buchanan, who had netted all three in midweek and five in his last two outings, while Town had influential midfielder Jamie Milligan on the bench after injury.
And the visitors stunned Fleetwood by taking a fourth-minute lead, when Bradley Pritchard turned and fired a brilliant half-volley into the top corner from 12 yards as Fleetwood failed to clear a corner.
But the scorer almost undid his good work within minutes, when Pritchard’s wayward header had to be tipped over his own bar by keeper Lee Harrison.
Sean Clancy drove a 20-yard strike just wide as Town looked for a quick response, and 39-year-old Harrison had to draw on all his experience to maintain the visitors’ lead in the first 20 minutes.
The keeper had to be on his toes to block a rasping Anthony Barry drive, and deal with some testing crosses by Junior Brown.
However, Hayes went close to doubling their lead when Jefferson Louis burst through on the right, only to see his shot trickle just wide.
This seemed to spur the home side on and George Donnelly hit the bar for the third time in four games, as he turned and shot inside the area in search of that elusive first goal for his new club.
But Fleetwood got the equaliser their pressure warranted on the half-hour, when Jamie McGuire headed in a floated Barry cross.
The pendulum was swinging in the home side’s direction as Magno Vieira ended a good move by heading fractionally over, and skipper Steve McNulty went even closer with a header against the bar from another Town corner.
Fleetwood really should have taken the lead just before half-time, when Gareth Seddon squared an excellent ball to Donnelly, who fired over from six yards.
The visitors made a highly competitive start to the second half, with Adam Green and Ben Wright both receiving early bookings for late challenges.
Mellon made his first change nine minutes into the second period, bringing on fans’ favourite Milligan for Shaun Beeley, who had taken a knock.
But despite this positive change, Hayes nearly regained the lead when striker Louis found himself with plenty of space in the box, but blazed high over the bar when a cool head was needed.
Town’s response was an excellent flowing move down the right, ending with a Seddon shot from the edge of the box which the in-form Harrison turned around a post.
As Hayes countered in an end-to-end game, it was soon Town keeper Scott Davies performing the heroics, getting down well to frustrate Wright.
But Harrison topped this with a superb save from another 18-yard Seddon strike on 65 minutes, the ball laid off by Donnelly amid chaos in the Hayes box, and Seddon headed the rebound against the underside of the bar.
A combination of Harrison and the bar then denied Vieira, before the ball was eventually cleared.
Clancy made way for Jamie Mullan as the frantic tempo continued, Davies forced to stretch to turn another Wright effort wide from a Hayes counter-attack.
Donnelly’s frustrating afternoon continued when he was booked, though Adam Byegrave appeared to make the most of the challenge.
Then Pond replaced scorer McGuire for a disastrous cameo, almost immediately given his marching orders for a two-footed lunge.
The final minutes saw no let-up in the action as Town went all out for a winner.
Their best chance came when the tireless Donnelly won possession and released Vieira, but the top scorer could not apply the decisive touch.
Fleetwood: Davies, Beeley (Milligan 54), McNulty, Gregan, Brown, Barry, McGuire (Pond 76), Seddon, Vieira, Clancy (Mullan 69), Donnelly; not used: Hurst, Thorpe
Hayes: Harrison, Ferrell, Cadmore, Bygrave, Green, Louis (Wishart 82), Appiah (Yiadom 71), Hand, Wassmer, Pritchard, Wright; not used: Preddie, Pattison, Webb
Referee: P Davison