Powers of recovery put Fleetwood back on top

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Didsbury Toc H 24, Fleetwood 31

FLEETWOOD made the most of their game in hand to regain top spot in the North Lancs and Cumbria League, but they had to recover from a nightmare start which left them 17 points down after just 15 minutes

Indeed, Didsbury were in no mood to roll over and they took an early lead with a penalty.

Fleet captain Ryan Riches caught Toc on the hop with his restart kick and full-back Tom Evans won a penalty, though Riches’ goal attempt drifted wide.

Sloppy tackling let Didsbury in for a converted try, and matters went from bad to worse for the visitors as Roger Banks’ pass to Danny Maher was intercepted and the home side romped over from halfway.

The Fleetwood comeback began on 18 minutes, when good pack play by Ben Corless and Lee Storton enabled Craig Aikman to release the hungry backs, and good passing saw Craig Cowley burst over on the left wing.

The conversion was missed, but as the front row of Corless, James Lilley and Nick Smith got on top, scrum-half Aikman took Cowley’s inside pass to finish a fine passage of play.

Riches converted this one to close the gap to five points.

And the turnaround was complete by half-time, as Cowley smashed through for his second try and Riches’ goal made it 19-17 to Fleetwood.

Man of match Maher gained revenge for that first-half interception with one for Fleetwood, flopping over from halfway.

The missed conversion kept the lead down to seven, but destructive birthday boy Mike Simpkins kept the visitors on the front foot, while the new centre partnership of Tom Wilson and Scott Richardson looked useful.

Kris Phillips entered the fray for the final 15 minutes and soon found himself on the scoresheet, taking Evans’ pass in full flight to step round the last man and score by the posts to secure a bonus point.

Riches’ third goal completed the scoring for Fleetwood, who should have added further tries but were let down by poor handling.

Toc had the final say as their No.8 Steve Woodburn crashed through and a penalty try was awarded.

This was a scrappy game but the points were gratefully accepted and move Fleet three points above Kirkby Lonsdale with four to play.