Fleetwood Town 1, Hayes & Yeading 0
TOWN talisman Jamie Milligan marked his first appearance of the season with the winning goal, which lifted his unbeaten side to third spot in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
Scott Davies’ first-half penalty save ensured Town are yet to concede a goal this season, though they came within six minutes of extending a less welcome shut-out record at the other end.
The Highbury faithful had not seen a goal scored by their favourites at home since Magno Vieira’s strike sealed victory over Barrow on Easter Monday.
That barren run, which included five summer friendlies and continued in last Tuesday’s stalemate with Darlington, looked set to go agonisingly on until Milligan gave the vast majority in the crowd of 1,376 something to cheer.
Town boss Micky Mellon made three changes from the goalless draw with the Quakers.
Anthony Barry and Andy Mangan were injured in that game and made way for Milligan and Richard Brodie, while Paul Edwards returned on the left at the expense of Stefan Cox.
Burnley midfielder Alex Ray Harvie had returned to Highbury for a second loan stint the previous day and was named among the substitutes.
Town started positively as McGuire’s shot was cleared off the line by Sam Argent.
Hayes & Yeading soon had an opportunity of their own, as a mistimed clearance by Matt Flynn presented Richard Pacquette with a chance, but he fired high over Davies’ bar.
Scott Brown supplied George Donnelly on six minutes and the England C striker raced through from halfway, only to shot across Steve Arnold’s goal.
Loius Soares then launched a quick counter, but Milligan’s timely interception cut out the danger.
Goodall’s foul on Pierre Joseph-Dubois resulted in a free-kick, just short of the left edge of the Town box.
Soares launched the delivery to Pacquette, but he headed wide.
Milligan was provided with an opportunity to break the deadlock on 20 minutes, when Brown was fouled on the edge of the box.
The deadly dead-ball specialist was thwarted, however, by the Hayes & Yeading wall.
Edwards was then robbed just inside his own penalty area to give an inviting chance to Joseph-Dubios but the shot flew wide.
Town skipper Steve McNulty earned a yellow card for a foul on Pacquette on 24 minutes as both sides worked hard for the breakthrough.
Mark Bentley was unfortunate to rattle the Fleetwood post from an uncontested header on the half-hour, while Brown and Donnelly were both denied at the other end before Hayes had the best chance so far.
McNulty’s challenge on Luke Williams was deemed worthy of a penalty on 34 minutes but Davies, diving to his right, got both hands to Joseph-Dubois’ spot-kick to push the ball away.
The half ended with a further opportunity for the London side, Bentley evading Flynn to reach Williams’ cross first only to steer the ball wide.
The opening 15 minutes of the second half were uninspired, enlivened by one notable Davies save and a shot from Brown.
During this period, the industrious Goodall and Donnelly were replaced by Harvey and Vieira.
Harvey was soon in the action, supplying a cross, which Brodie headed into the net but the offside flag had been raised. Visiting defender Diak John needed treatment after coming off worst in a battle for a loose ball with Rob Atkinson and Flynn, which followed a Milligan corner.
Hayes had earned a point at Highbury last season and looked destined for at least a repeat as they embarked on a period of pressure, but Davies was in unbeatable mood.
He thwarted Williams, who forced his way around the defensive line, and saved a Nathan Elder shot.
McNulty halted the Hayes offensive with a perfectly executed tackled in his own penalty area to dispossess the threatening Williams.
And Town made them pay for their wasted possession and pressure as Brodie chested McGuire’s throw-in to Milligan, who curled a left-foot shot to the right of the diving Arnold.
Brodie had the ball in the net a second time, but the officials again ruled it out, this time because of the striker’s initial challenge.
It hardly mattered as the final whistle soon followed, leaving Town with seven points out of nine ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Barrow.
Town: Davies, Flynn, Edwards, Atkinson, McNulty, Milligan, McGuire, Goodall (Harvey 55), S Brown (Seddon 76), Brodie, Donnelly (Vieira 56); not used: St Louis Hamilton, Flynn
Hayes & Yeading: Arnold, Argent, John, Hand, Cadmore, Soares (Elder 60), Joseph-Dubois, Bentley, Williams, Pacquette (Wishart 60), Ujah (Bailey 83); Unused Saville, Preddie
Attendance: 1.376; Ref: S. Smith