MATCH REPORT: Bury 2 Fleetwood 3
As if reaching the final eight of the Checkatrade Trophy was not enough for Fleetwood Town, Uwe Rosler's men also earned a free chippy tea for dumping Bury out of the cup.
It should have been more comfortable for Uwe Rosler's men but despite a a late Bury fight-back Town, fuelled by two Jordy Hiwula efforts, managed to snap-up Granada Fish Bar's offer of some free fish and chips.
The club sponsors and Fleetwood chippy continue to fuel Town's cup feast as fresh off the back of Chris Neal's clean sheet in the FA Cup against Leicester securing a year of free pizza for the shot-stopper, Granada rewarded the lads with a more local delicacy, as his replacement Alex Cairns more than earned his portion of battered Cod with a number of fine late stops to thwart a late rally by the hosts.
The big news on the team sheet was the return of Grant.
Grant had not featured for Town since picking up a freak knee injury in the 2-2 draw at Blackburn Rovers in October but the midfielder was back in action at Gigg Lane.
Striker Conor McAleny also upped his recovery from an ankle injury as he made his first start since Town's 2-0 win over Oxford in October.
McAleny, 25, has featured for Town off the bench in their previous three games, the 2-0 win at Bury in League One, the 2-1 home defeat to Bradford City and the 0-0 FA Cup third round draw with Leicester City.
And Rosler had changed his full starting line-up from that FA Cup game with keeper Alex Cairns returning to the side, Town switching from 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2 formation.
Nathan Sheron, Harvey Rodgers and Baily Cargill start in a back three with Victor Nirennold and Joe Maguire utilised at wing-backs.
Grant, Harrison Biggins and Jack Sowerby start in the middle of the park with McAleny and Hiwula up top.
It was Bury who started the strongest with Chris Maguire beating Cairns but rattling the right stick with his set-piece from 40-yards out and Callum Reilly fizzing the ball past the left stick.
But despite the hosts' bright start Town were clinical and it was through their trademark pressing play that they got the breakthrough.
Sowerby won the ball in Bury's half and slid the ball up to Hiwula, he sent strike partner McAleny clear. The forward's effort cannoned back off keeper Connor Ripley but only into the path of Hiwula who was on hand to nod the ball home from a tight angle.
It went from bad to worse for basement club Bury who have bigger fish to fry than the Checkatrade Trophy given their current relegation battle and Town soon doubled their lead on their way to a free chippy tea from sponsors Granada Fish Bar.
Once again Town countered and Hiwula was instrumental, he crept into the gap between Bury's midfield and defence and he played a neat one-two with McAleny before streaming into the box. He was fellled by Phil Edwards and referee Seb Stocksbridge pointed to the spot. Grant stepped up and marked his return with a goal from the penalty spot as Town put the game to bed in the 18th minute.
From that point on it was all Town with Hiwula and McAleny having numerous efforts blocked as Town kept the heat on a deflated Bury side.
Though despite Town's dominance they could not add a third and soon after Bury were rocked by an injury blow.
O'Connell went down after blocking McAleny's pass deep in his own half and was unable to carry on with Bunn replacing him just before the break.
But that blow reignited the Shakers and they rattled the woodwork once again as Reilly's curling effort crashed into the bar.
Fleetwood did not head that warning though and the hosts reduced the deficit in first half injury time as Bunn fired past Cairns to set up an interesting second 45.
The home faithful were ready to boo their men off just before that late surge but that ending to the half boosted the crowd at Gigg Lane as they cheered their man back on in the second half.
Though it was Town who looked sharper at the start of the new half with McAleny fizzing the ball past the left stick.
It was though to be his strike partner Hiwula's night and the forward fired home his second in the 50th minute. It was simple route one football from Town that did the damage with Cairns' goal kick releasing the speedy striker who coolly slotted the ball past Ripley from the edge of the box.
But Bury refused to roll over and reduced the deficit once again. Town failed to clear their lines and substitute Dai popped up to thunder the ball home from the top of the box in the 55th minute.
The Shakers had Town all shook up and nearly got themselves on level terms but Cairns was on hand to rescue Fleetwood as he tipped Dai's long range effort away and then recovered to stop Ajose gobbling up the rebound.
Town re-grouped after that Bury recovery with McAleny just seeing a fine effort from outside the box drop onto the netting, that was to be the former Everton man's last piece of action as he was withdrawn for Nadesan with Grant also making it just after the hour mark.
Town had been the better side throughout the game and should have been cruising their way to a chippy tea but instead they made it hard for themselves with Bury pushing up for a leveller in the closing stages.
Hiwula though was a constant thorn in the visitors side and with ex-Town assistant boss Chris Lucketti urging his Bury men forward it left gaps for Fleetwood and Hiwula to break on the counter though the forward could only ripple the side netting after getting in on the left.
A hat-trick would have capped a fine night for the forward but it was not to be and it was another forward who was left kicking himself as Ajose curled the ball straight at Cairns in the closing stages when he should have pulled the hosts level.
Rosler withdrew Sowerby and gave Hunter a run out for the final 10 minutes as he switched up to a 4-3-3 but the closing stages was all about Bury though they could not find a way past Cairns and company.
Though it was not through a lack of trying especially in the dying stages with Ripley sent up for a number of set-pieces and Cairns somehow tipping Maguire's long range effort away but Town's youthful back line were to learn a valuable lesson as they just managed to edge the win and secure a slap-up chippy tea.
Bury: Ripley, Leigh, O'Connell (Bunn, 43), Maguire, Ajose, Reilly, Edwards, Skarz, Cooney, Ince (Lowe, 86), Hanson (Dai, 46). Subs not used: Tutte, Dawson, Aldred, Fasan.
Fleetwood: Cairns, Nirennold, Rodgers, Sheron, Cargill, Maguire, Sowerby (Hunter, 80), Biggins, Grant (Schwabl, 60), Hiwula, McAleny (Nadesan, 67). Subs not used: Crellin, Hunter, Donohue, Baines, Reid.
Referee: Seb Stocksbridge.
Attendance: 698 (Fleetwood 65)