Carlisle United came into this Johnstone’s Paint Trophy quarter-final fresh from their weekend FA Cup disappointment at non-league Boreham Wood, and their injury-weakened team once again failed to sparkle as their hosts took matters by the scruff of the neck.
The start couldn’t have been worse for Carlisle as a break down the right-hand side found them light at the back.
A powerful cross from Gareth Evans caught keeper Greg Fleming, making his first ever appearance for the club, completely by surprise.
He palmed it away but Antoni Sarcevic reacted to first to drive back into the box.
His cut back was perfect for the unmarked David Ball to volley into the roof of the net from close range.
The Cumbrians thought they’d equalised immediately when a Symington cross eventually found Buaben.
He twisted past two challenges and stepped aside as Brad Potts tried to pick his spot. The shot had Scott Davies beaten all ends up but the stopper was saved by the inside of the post and a ball which simply refused to cross the line.
An error from O’Hanlon as he sliced a clearance back towards his own 18-yard box opened the door for Fleetwood once more, and they attacked in numbers with Carlisle once more looking stretched.
Sarcevic, Hughes and Ball all had air-shots as Fleming spread himself to make the blocks.
The visiting goal lived a charmed life and a high lob into the area caused problems as Fleming came off his line. Ball won the header and Buaben came to the rescue with a timely clearance off the line.
Carlisle huffed and puffed their way through the first half, but it was Fleetwood who always looked the more likely as they attacked with pace and poise. Gareth Evans was guilty of a glaring miss moments before the break when he matched Ball step for step with a break from their own half. A backheel from the nippy forward left the chance on a plate but Evans lost his bearings and rattled it wide.
And Fleetwood were a whisker away from doubling their tally for the evening with their first attack of the second half when Murdoch pushed through the heart of midfield. He fed it to Hughes and his placed shot shaved the upright as it rolled just wide. Carlisle finally started to look dangerous as a run from Berrett sparked life into the stumbling visiting presence, and it was Townsend who sat deep to make the most of the poor clearance. Davies parried but good pressure from Symington brought a curling cross which somehow cleared the bar as it bounced off the greasy surface.
But the Cod Army made light of the brief spell of pressure as a huge clearance from the back invited Antoni Sarcevic to try the lob. Fleming scrambled but the damage was done and the ball settled nicely in the bottom corner.
The Cumbrians huffed and puffed for the remainder of the contest but The Fleet always looked dominant as they controlled the middle of the park. And it was the hosts who had the better of the chances to extend their lead as they extended their winning run to four games at the expense of Carlisle, who now haven’t won in their last five outings.