Town victorious on the road once more
O'Donnell 68, Fleetwood 78
The Town battled back from behind to go top of the Blue Square Bet Premier with a hard-earned win a Hyde.
It was two goals in a 10-minute spell in the second half that turned the result in the Hatters' favour after the hosts had taken the lead in the 55th minute through Matthew Blinkhorn.
But a fine equaliser from JJ O'Donnell made it all square before Stuart Fleetwood's fourth goal in three games 12 minutes from the end secured all three points.
Town boss Paul kept the faith with the same side that beat Kidderminster on Tuesday night. Jake Howells returned to the squad after representing Wales Under-21 in midweek but had to be content with a place on the substitutes’ bench.
The Hatters started the brighter of the two sides and they should have taken the lead as early as seventh minute when an Alex Lawless’ right-wing cross was headed over the crossbar by Jon Shaw from six yards.
Back came Hyde though and they thought they should have had a penalty after Alex Brown went down in the box and, five minutes later, the Town appealed in vain for one themselves when Lawless’ firm strike struck the arm of Matthew Cassidy.
As the Hatters continued to boss possession, playing some nice football on the immaculate Ewen Fields surface, Shaw missed another excellent chance on 20 minutes when he blazed over from six yards after Hyde had failed to clear a Town corner.
Neither goalkeeper had been tested until Mark Tyler was called into action twice in the space of 60 seconds on 29 minutes when he reacted well to Phil Jevons’ shot from the edge of the box before the Town number 1 showed quick reactions to pounce on Robbie Williams’ shot from close range from the resultant corner.
The Town went up the other end and had another appeal for a spot-kick waved away on 31 minutes when Scott Rendell went down under pressure from Williams.
Two minutes later Hyde should have taken the lead when former Hatters loanee Blinkhorn failed to convert from five yards after Cassidy’s cross had flashed across the six-yard box.
By now it was end-to-end stuff and moments later Shaw saw a header cleared off the line following an O’Donnell corner as the Town went in search of that elusive opener.
With five minutes to the break the Hatters came even closer to breaking the deadlock when Shaw spurned a terrific chance after O’Donnell’s free-kick was headed back across goal by Janos Kovacs but the number 9 side-footed wide unmarked when six yards out.
Three minutes later Fleetwood, the two-goal hero from Tuesday’s win, crossed for Scott Rendell but he could only glance a header well wide of the goal.
After the restart it was Hyde who started the better with Shaw blocking an on-target shot at the near post following an early corner before right-back Josh Brizell fired into the side-netting.
But the Town were struggling to find their rhythm and it was the Tigers who took the lead on 55 minutes when Blinkhorn turned on the edge of the box and finished well past Tyler who, despite getting a glove on the ball, could not keep it out.
In response Buckle made two substitutes in quick succession, introducing Howells and Andre Gray for Greg Taylor and Yaser Kasim.
Hyde continued to press though, and Tyler needed to dive away to his right on 67 minutes to prevent a low shot from Brizell making it 2-0.
The Town were finding it tough going and looked unlikely to find a way back into the game until O’Donnell stepped in on 69 minutes. Shaw battled for the ball and worked it into the path of Rendell who showed patient play to feed O’Donnell and he arrowed a low shot goalwards that fizzed past the motionless David Carnell in the Hyde goal. It was the young midfielder’s first goal for the club.
Now the Hatters were in the ascendency, O’Donnell saw a shot from the edge of the box that was blocked minutes later before Ronnie Henry blasted a shot inches wide with 16 minutes left on the clock.
It seemed that Hyde’s threat had now been nullified as the Town went in search of a winner and, lo and behold, 10 minutes after they drew level, they took the lead through that man Fleetwood. Tyler played a crucial role – darting way outside of his box in sweeper-esque fashion to mop up the danger and pass to Henry. The skipper then threaded a fine ball down the line to Gray who raced down the wing, looked up and swept an inch-perfect pass into the path of Fleetwood whose first-time finish beat Carnell. Cue the celebrations – it was the striker’s fourth goal in three games.
By now it was well and truly all the Town and it almost became three on 83 minutes when terrific play from O’Donnell fed Shaw but the striker’s left-foot shot was blocked by a home defender as it travelled goalwards.
As time ticked down, Buckle brought on Matt Robinson for goalscorer Fleetwood and, after the Town weathered four minutes of injury time in the driving rain they held on to secure a hard-fought win.
An eight-day break before AFC Telford come to Kenilworth Road. Top of the league – although it’s likely to be only for 24 hours – enjoy it and see you next Saturday.