Hull City's substitutes inspire thrilling Football League Trophy win over Fleetwood Town

JOY: Hull City's players celebrate Lewie Coyle's dramatic winnerJOY: Hull City's players celebrate Lewie Coyle's dramatic winner
JOY: Hull City's players celebrate Lewie Coyle's dramatic winner
Appropriately for a competition that has become a platform for lower-league fringe players and youngsters to show what they can do, it was Hull City's substitutes who put them into the Football League Trophy quarter-finals.

Only when Wembley comes into view does the Football League Trophy come close to exciting the footballing fraternity, and when it does, the big boys tend to get more involved. So although they came from the bench, it was the more established Malik Wilks, Keane Lewis-Potter and George Honeyman, making his first appearance for Hull in the competition, who made the difference, topped off by the experienced starter Lewie Coyle with a fairytale ending.

It was, in every sense, some finish.

Wilks, Keane Lewis-Potter and George Honeyman came on at half-time and although Fleetwood Town doubled their lead shortly afterwards, all three goals came from Honeyman corners.

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Wilks and Lewis-Potter scored two minutes apart to ruin Fleetwood's plans for a quiet evening which had been looking so good and as everyone was mentally preparing for Hull's fifth penalty shoot-out of the season, Coyle thrashed a 94th-minute shot in from practically a different postcode to give his hometown club a dramatic 3-2 win over his former one.

It was all so far removed a disappointingly flat first hour from Hull.

With only Alfie Jones keeping his place from Sunderland – Callum Elder and Josh Magennis were in the XI after substitute cameos at the Stadium of Light – and one or two coming back from Covid-19, something we do not fully understand the longer-term effects of, it was understandable Hull looked a little rusty but Fleetwood as a club had not played since Boxing Day, and looked much better for it.

They forced all the early pressure, with almost all of the ball and three corners inside the first six minutes, and got the eighth-minute goal which allowed them to drop back.

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Once Paddy Madden had turned and shot, Fleetwood were able to sit back and watch Hull's powder-puff passing in front of them.

When Jones fired the ball into Thomas Mayer, it refused to stick. Wes Burns robbing a dawdling Elder highlighted the difference in sharpness between the teams.

Gradually Dan Batty began to demand the ball and tried to play quarter-back as Hull looked to go longer but Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper Joe Hilton, whose emergency loan signing was announced less than half an hour before the teams, was untested in the first 60 minutes of his senior debut. Magennis had a shot blocked, as did Mayer after Batty's diagonal ball released Lewie Coyle.

The midfielder was caught in possession by Madden, but quickly won the ball back.

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Seeing a bit more from the hosts, Fleetwood realised they should probably do a bit more than simply sit back and wait for nothing to happen, and the recalled Matt Ingram saved an awkward Shayden Morris shot which might have clipped off Sean McLaughlin en route. Callum Camps had a great turn and shot wide, and McLoughlin took the sting out of a Madden effort.

An excellent Regan Slater pass to Mayer, in far too much space in the inside-right channel, just produced more haplessness on the half-hour, James Scott nutmegging himself with his shot.

Although Keane-Potter and Wilks quickly signalled their intent after coming on, the latter finding the former for a blocked shot, Wes Burns doubled the lead after 53 minutes with a shot which deflected off Elder and squeezed past Ingram.

Again, Fleetwood settled in and sat back, but only in the final half-hour did Hull look capable of making them regret it.

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It started with Magennis hitting a shot into the side netting with Hilton helpless on the floor, and when Sean McLaughlin put an excellent chance over from the subsequent corner, it felt like it was not meant to be.

Hilton save from Lewis-Potter, then low down from Coyle.

Finally, in the 78th minute they found the net, Wilks heading Honeyman's corner in from yards out. Jones put his next delivery against the post, but Lewis-Potter snaffled the rebound.

Honeyman's corner in the fourth added minute looked to have been wasted when Hilton got it clear, only for Coyle to arrive onto it.

Hull City: Ingram; Coyle, Smith, McLoughlin, Elder; A Jones, Batty (Honeyman 46), Slater; Mayer (Wilks 46), Magennis (Salam 65), Scott (Lewis-Potter 46).

Unused substitutes: Long, Greaves, Leake.

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Fleetwood Town: Hilton; Burns (Saunders 71), Hill, Connolly, Rydel; Whelan (Duffy 61), Coutts, J.Morris; S Morris (Matete 75), Madden, Camps.

Unused substitutes: Borwick, Baggley, Boyle, Batch.

Referee: R Joyce (Teesside).

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