A red card after only half an hour for Joe Garner ended Nathan Pond’s testimonial as a contest.
The frontman, who could now miss the opening three games of the competitive season, was sent off after an altercation with Steven Schumacher with referee Jez Simpson strangely not choosing to ask for him to be substituted.
This ruined the game as a spectacle with Simon Grayspn forced to make more changes than he would have liked and overshadowing the game that ended with the home side…
Both the opening goals came from Ryan Crowther either side of half-time, but this was almost an insignificance to North End after the decision of the official in the opening period; Antoni Sarcevic adding a third seconds after another controversial moment when North End should have had a penalty and then a Steven Schumacher deflection made it four.
Until the sending-off, the Lilywhites had been comfortable, only a header from Jeff Hughes any sort of test for Declan Rudd.
Simon Grayson’s men could have been ahead at the mid-point of the half; a deep ball from David Buchanan was well directed to Chris Humphrey, who did brilliantly to pull it across the face of goal; the returning Will Hayhurst – making his first run out of pre-season - controlled and cleverly pulled back to Garner eight yards out, but his left foot strike smashed against the bar and went over.
The controversy came about on 31 minutes as in an innocuous incident Garner and Schumacher seemed to come together and the referee called them both together, but then chose to give a red card to the PNE No.14 and nothing for the Fleetwood man.
The visitors were still in shock when the home side took the lead. A free kick 25 yards out by Schumacher came off the wall and back out to Junior Brown on the left; he put a deep cross in and it was put in by Ryan Crowther at the back post.
The ten men still looked the most lively, however, and on 40 minutes Humphrey raced down the right and delivered a great cross to the back post. Kevin Davies, making his first appearance in a white shirt, was surrounded by two defenders, who just manage to get it behind for a corner.
The half-time interval brought six changes by the manager, probably four more than he had planned, but the new team looked lively and some great play by King and Holmes – two of those changes, just two minutes into the half - set up Bailey Wright on the left to cross deep for another change, Keith Keane, who on the volley found the side netting.
The home side doubled their lead shortly after. Ryan Crowther again had a shot that deflected back off Tom Clarke, but he poked it back under Rudd.
On 53 minutes Schumacher, now a figure of vitriol by the North End faithful after his earlier involvement, cleared off the line as Paul Huntington headed Lee Holmes’ free kick goalwards, beating Scott Davies, but not the former Bury man.
The referee’s afternoon was summed up by a decision to award a free kick against Lee Holmes in the 64th minute, denying North End a penalty as he was shoved over when about to shoot when clean through.
Immediately after this incident the home side added their third with former Chester forward Sarcevic firing a fortunate shot that came off the right hand post.
The scoreline was anything but a reflection of the game, with Lee Holmes the main protagonist after the break, always looking a threat against the Cod Army back line.
John Mousinho threw himself in front of a shot from home side’s substitute David Ball in the 76th minute and then the same man headed against the bar from the resulting corner for Graham Alexander’s side and shortly after the same man again made Thorsten Stuckmann – into the action – get down low to palm the ball away for another corner.
It was made 4-0 by the man who was perhaps lucky to still be on the pitch, Steven Schumacher on 79 minutes, a deflected shot from 25 yards beating Stuckmann and ending up in the top left hand corner.
Jon Parkin was denied a goal against his former club with two minutes left; ‘The Beast’ superbly controlling Conor McLaughlin’s diagonal ball through and firing a strong shot goalwards that Thorsten Stuckmann got his body behind to make a fine save.
The game ended with a presentation to the man whose celebration it was, Prestonian Nathan Pond.
Fleetwood Town line-up: S Davies, Roberts, Pond © (Hogan, 87), Schumacher (Parkin, 80), Matt, Hughes, Brown, McLaughlin, Sarcevic (Ball, 69), Crowther, Jordan. Subs not used: Beeley, Howell, Murdoch, Parkin, Goodall, Hogan, Blair, Ball, Lucas.
PNE line-up: Rudd (Stuckmann, 69), Clarke (Croasdale, 85), Huntington, Wright, Buchanan (Laird, 46), Humphrey (Keane, 46), Byrom (Mousinho, 46), Wroe © (Welsh, 46©), Hayhurst (Holmes, 46), K Davies (King, 46), Garner. Subs not used: Stuckmann, Cummins, Monakana, Cansdell-Sherriff, Croasdale, Beardsley.
Attendance: 1,889 (658 PNE fans)
: Mr J SimpsonReferee