Kendal Town 0 Fleetwood Town 2
FLEETWOOD’S goal drought ended in the nick of time in this final pre-season friendly.
Micky Mellon’s men came within 11 minutes of failing to find the net for a sixth successive game – but then goals in quick succession from George Donnelly and Keith Briggs provided a welcome boost ahead of Saturday’s Conference opener at Grimsby Town.
As the rain poured down in Cumbria, the watching Grimsby management team will have learned little as Mellon still managed to field 19 players despite a troubling injury list.
There was a first appearance from Town’s tenth summer signing, winger Stefan Cox from Mitcham and Tooting United, while the three triallists in the starting XI again included Scott Brown, the former Morecambe midfielder.
Jamie Milligan came on for the second half as he continued to feel his way back after knee surgery, though the midfielder was named by Mellon among the seven who would not be fit to start the Blue Square Bet Premier season.
Town’s Evo-Stik premier division hosts included the familiar face of former Town keeper Craig Dootson, who has signed a two-year contract with Kendal and enjoyed plenty of banter with the hundred or so Fleetwood faithful.
Former Town defender Sean Gregan has also linked up with the Cumbrians but was not involved on Saturday, though their side did include the former Seasiders defencer Marc Joseph.
Fleetwood played up the slope in the first half and found the net after only three minutes only for Andrew Mangan’s strike to be disallowed.
Cox, playing on the right, looked lively and had an early chance but delayed his shot when he could have been more adventurous after nine minutes.
Mangan’s committed running led to a painful collision down the left with Joseph, from which the England C striker seemed to come off worse, though he recovered after a few moments.
Keeper Scott Davies was a bystander for most of the first half as Fleetwood enjoyed the bulk of the possession and territory, though the visitors lacked a killer instinct.
Despite the rain getting stronger, Town created more chances in the 15 minutes leading up to half-time.
Dootson was forced to clear with his feet at the near post, then Rob Atkinson glanced a header wide after Town forced three successive corners.
Dootson made amends for a needlessly conceded corner by beating away a strong shot from Magno Vieira, then Mangan had a shot cleared off the line by Rory Winters.
The home side finally threatened just before the break, when John Ross blasted wide with plenty of goal to aim at.
Milligan entered the fray among seven half-time substitutions and was soon posing problems with some expertly-taken corners. One of these found fellow sub Richard Brodie in space and the striker was clearly annoyed to drive his half-volley over.
Kendal came into the game more as the second half developed, putting the Fleetwood defence under some pressure.
Former Rochdale full-back Alan Goodall, back after injury, was next to link up well with Milligan but again there was no end product.
A brief stoppage in the rain was almost greeted with a goal as Brodie ran strongly down the right and found Donnelly, whose shot beat Dootson only to come back off the post. The keeper saved well from the lively Brodie four minutes later.Fleetwood finally converted pressure into goals as Donnelly beat the advancing Dootson on 79 minutes, then two minutes later Briggs turned in his first goal in Town colours from Milligan’s cross. Kendal had an opportunity to pull one back four minutes from time but Davies saved well.
Mellon will have ended the match relieved not only by the two goals but also by a lack of any new injuries.
Fleetwood: Davies, Goodall, McNulty, Atkinson, McGuire, Brown, Cox, Mangan, Vieira, Trialist, Trialist; subs: Barry, Milligan, Brodie, Briggs, Hughes, St Louis Hamilton (unused)