Fleetwood Town’s quest to erase their Lancashire Senior Cup heartache started with aplomb as they dispatched AFC Fylde 3-1.
Last term Town were beaten in the final by Bury and Stephen Crainey’s Town side progressed comfortably to the last eight of the competition at Fylde’s Kellamergh Park.
And it was a case of past, present and future for Fleetwood. Bobby Grant, man who historically has done damage for Town but is struggling to break into new boss Joey Barton’s plans, showed why he should not be shelved any time soon with a goal and an assist.
A present wing triallist pressed his case for a contract with a goal and his dead-ball ability, while one for the future Ged Garner scored, though of Town’s young guns it was keeper Billy Crellin who pushed hardest for the first team.
With most of Fleetwood’s development squad either sold this summer or out on loan, this team combined first teamers, two experienced midfield triallists and some under-U18s.
Fylde were rocked early doors when they lost attacker Gime Toure to a shoulder injury.
The pacy Toure, who has frequently made an impact off the bench this season, fell awkwardly and was rushed to hospital. He is a concern for boss Dave Challinor going into the weekend’s match at Barnet.
Yesterday’s Lancashire derby took place at Fylde’s windswept pre-Mill Farm home and the players were battered by the elements.
An ex-Preston triallist played a part in Town’s first goal after 36 minutes as his set-piece delivery found the head of skipper Grant.
Playing in a number nine role, Grant launched the ball for Garner to finish at the far post.
Town’s Harrison Biggins had wasted a similar chance from a dead-ball situation early doors.
James Hardy was the danger man for Fylde, testing Crellin in the opening stages.
And the England U19 shot-stopper, recently recalled from loan at FC United of Manchester, had to be on his game to bat away Hardy’s dipping effort.
Fylde went closer to levelling from the subsequent set-piece, Arlen Birch rattling the woodwork.
Six of Fylde’s starting side have played in the National League this season and another of them, Ash Hemmings, also saw a speculative effort fly way over the bar as Town went in 1-0 up at the break.
Fleetwood players Jason Holt and the suspended Wes Burns watched on as did Barton and a host of his coaches.
Grant wasted two headed chances and central midfielder Biggins kept pushing forward, trying his luck before the triallist on the wing continued to press his case.
He scored a delightful goal t in the 53rd minute as Town went route one. It was Crellin with the long ball up that the wing wizard latched on to before firing home in the 53rd minute.
Right-back Gethin Jones should have netted his first Fleetwood goal, nodding a set-piece way over.
Grant made his mark soon after, sprinting down the right before sweeping home to stake a claim for more first-team action in the 73rd minute.
Town introduced the U18 trio striker Sam O’Halleron, midfielder Anthony Williams and defender Lewis Baines but it was Challinor’s side who finished the stronger as Crellin was denied a clean sheet at the death.
Hemmings’ corner was nodded into his own net by the unfortunate Baines.
It was to be just a consolation as Fleetwood continued their quest to lift this trophy after back-to-back final defeats.
AFC Fylde: Griffiths, Birch, Brewitt, Stanley, Gray, Triallist, Triallist, Hardy (Macadam 70)Toure (Hassall 25) Hemmings, Tasdemir (Green 56).
Fleetwood: Crellin, G Jones (Baines 73), Sheron, Spurr (Williams 73), Clarke, Triallist, Triallist, Biggins, Rydel, Garner, Grant (O’Halleron 73).