Mackay turns the tide as Fleetwood go down fighting

Fleetwood Town 2 Hartlepool 3
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The Independent Football

When you have waited 122 years to reach the second round of the FA Cup it might be considered greedy to go to the wish fairy for more. Fleetwood Town gloried in the biggest day of their history yesterday but the romance ran out with the tide on a foggy day on the Fylde coast.

Not that the Blue Square North side slid meekly todefeat at Highbury Stadium. At times they looked likely to be swept away by Hartlepool United but the League One team were looking less than composed by the end and it would not have been a travesty if Fleetwood had elongated their greatest Cup run with a replay.

Instead, Hartlepool can dream of ties with Chelsea and Manchester United in today's third round draw thanks to two goals from Michael Mackay and another from Joel Porter. Fleetwood get £7,500 from ITV and the consolation of knowing they could have got more from the game other then strikes from Andy Bell and Adam Warlow.

"I feel disappointed," Micky Mellon, the Fleetwood manager, said, "but I'm glad I feel that way because it means we gave it a real good go."

Hartlepool's manager Danny Wilson concurred. "We missed a few chances, let them get back into it and it became a little uncomfortable."

Hartlepool lashed two shots just by the post within six minutes but any suggestion this was going to be a holiday by the seaside was rebutted after 14 minutes. Porter strayed unnecessarily offside for the visitors and to compound his stupidity his back four showed a similar lack of spatial awareness from Jamie Milligan's long free-kick. They parted, Bell surged through and scored for Fleetwood by slipping his shot under Arran Lee Barrett's charge from his line.

The lead lasted just three minutes, and again it was a case of a defence going missing in the mist. Fleetwood cleared a corner but when Jamie McCunnie won a header 30 yards out, the home rearguard became rigid in the hope of an offside decision and Mackay ran beyond them and volleyed across Danny Hurst into the far corner of the goal.

Fleetwood managed to keep their League One opponents at bay with some comfort until half-time but succumbed within two minutes of the restart. Antony Sweeney won a header on the edge of the box, the ball bounced along the 18-yard line and Mackay volleyed a lob over Hurst.

That should have killed the tie as a contest and that seemed even more of the case after 56 minutes when Hartlepool made it 3-1. Ritchie Humphreys crossed from the left, Sweeney volleyed into the area and Porter struck at the far post.

Fleetwood refused to accept the inevitable and they ensured the giants – if Hartlepool can ever be described as such – had a few uncomfortable moments when they reduced the arrears in the 66th minute. Another long ball caused chaos in the visiting defence and Warlow coolly turned inside a challenge and beat Lee Barrett.

"The way things were, the day was made for an upset," Wilson said. "I'm just delighted it wasn't us."

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