Fleetwood Town 5 Mansfield Town 0
Fleetwood’s best display of the season to date secured a mouth-watering home tie against League One Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup first round on Saturday week.
Town put five past the Stags for the second season running and the victory margin would have been even more convincing but for the heroics of Alan Marriott in the Mansfield goal.
Jamie Milligan, whose goal at Field Mill on Saturday paved the way for last night’s fourth qualifying round replay, was on target again from the penalty spot on night which produced five different scorers.
Both managers made one change from Saturday’s game. Sean Clancy replaced Andy Mangan for Town, while Louis Moult stepped up from the bench to replace the Stags’ unavailable leading scorer Matt Green.
Town could have struck early. amie Vardy skipped past Richie Sutton down the left touchline before crossing to Richard Brodie, who turned and rattled his shot against the crossbar.
Milligan’s follow-up attempt was blocked and the Mansfield supporters, depleted by motorway problems, breathed again.
Town applied all the early pressure, with Vardy showing his fleetness of foot on both sides of the pitch and Brodie running hard at the Mansfield defence.
A 12th-minute shot from distance by Vardy went narrowly wide and, two minutes later, Brodie cut in from the left and saw his close range effort deflected for a corner.
It was Vardy’s turn again just before the quarter-hour mark, a fierce right-foot shot from outside the area gratefully collected by Marriott after an initial fumble.
The Stags, beaten only once on the road this season, were under sustained pressure and only the heroics of Marriott kept them in the tie as he denied both Vardy and Seddon in the 21st minute with excellent saves.
Town’s pressure finally got its just reward in the 28th minute. Milligan curled a free kick into the Mansfield area and the ball fell to Brodie, who scored his fifth of the season from close range.
A rare lack of concentration by Town following the restart saw Anthony Howell left unmarked at the back post but the midfielder was unable to exploit the situation, leaving Town keeper Scott Davies kicking his post with frustration.
Mansfield skipper Adam Murray became the referee’s first booking of the evening after a challenge on Clancy near the halfway line.
Davies impressed with a fine reflex save at the back post as the imposing figure of Ben Futcher climbed to meet a free kick five minutes before the break.
Clancy had a right-foot shot easily saved as the teams entered added time but there was still time for the recalled attacker to get on the scoresheet before the break.
Vardy exposed hesitancy by Martin Riley on the left side of the Stags defence and crossed for Clancy to finish crisply with his preferred left foot and give Town a two-goal cushion which was certainly no more than their first-half dominance deserved.
Town attacked from the kick-off, Brodie claiming a penalty for handball with the clock barely ticking!
The striker was handed an opportunity to score his second after 55 minutes, when he ran on to a pass from Milligan, but his shot was deflected on to the top of the netting by Marriott.
Another opportunity just after the hour saw Brodie fire wide of the far post from a narrow angle.
Vardy was seeing more of the ball after a quiet opening to the half, with a sense of anticipation from the Cod Army accompanying his every mazy run at the defence. The Stags were unable to get a foothold in the game as Town continued to dominate possession.
The tireless Brodie left the field to generous applause after 67 minutes, no doubt wondering how he did not score a hat-trick.
He was replaced by Magno Vieira and soon afterwards Keith Briggs returned following a six-match injury absence to take the place of McGuire, who had gone down with cramp.
Vardy toyed with the Stags defence soon after, slipping through the tiniest of gaps to attempt a nonchalant chip off his left foot.
Town sealed the tie soon with 15 minutes remaining, when Vieira supplied Seddon and he burst in from the right to place a shot under Marriott for his fifth goal of the season.
The Mansfield defence was finally freed of the threat of Vardy when he left to a standing ovation, replaced by Mangan. Their misery continued, however, when Town were awarded a 79th-minute penalty for handball and Milligan duly beat the valiant Marriott.
The result will not have helped Paul Cox’s state of health – the Mansfield manager had been unable to make the journey due to illness as the Stages failed to reach the first round for the first time since 1927.
The tie ended, appropriately, with a last-second goal from Mangan, which sent the Cod Army in the 1,159 crowd home happy and full of hope for Saturday’s crunch clash at Luton in the league.
Fleetwood: Davies, Beeley, McNulty (c), Pond, Goodall, McGuire (Briggs), Milligan, Clancy, Brodie (Vieira), Seddon, Vardy (Mangan); not used: St Louis Hamilton, Cox, Cavanagh, S Brown; Att: 1,159