Fleetwood 2 Shrewsbury 1

Dionotan Teixeira makes his first Highbury start
Dionotan Teixeira makes his first Highbury start

Steven Pressley has the chance to mastermind a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy assault after caretaker Chris Lucketti secured a stunning comeback victory in his second and last game at the Highbury helm.

Given all that’s happened around Highbury in the last 24 hours never mind the last week a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clash seemed something of a minor distraction.

But it was a chance for new boss Steven Pressley, watching on from the stands, to cast an eye for the first time on his troops.

And there were plenty in the early stages seemingly eager to impress.

Town have played with a lack of intensity and belief in recent weeks.

But there appeared to be a fresh injection of passion and vigour as the game got under-way.

There was, of course, a little spice to the occasion, former manager Micky Mellon returning to Highbury for the first time, even pausing to take the applause of the crowd before taking his seat.

He wasn’t the only Highbury old-boy looking to upset the slumbering home crowd.

Junior Brown was also back in town, a lively figure down the Shrews left.

But the one time Cod was certainly swimming against the tide, Town bossing the game early on.

Positive and switched on they made life hard for the visitors, more than one man with a point to prove.

Among them Jamie Proctor looked a player transformed, his rough and ready play making few friends among the Shrews defence.

Antoni Sarcevic looked another man on a mission.

The weight of the captain’s armband lifted he was playing with more freedom, rampaging around the midfield creating havoc and space for others to play their natural game.

He could have put Town ahead on the 20 minute mark, skipping around Sam Patterson, using his weight to take him into the box and stinging the palms of Jayson Leutwiler.

More midfield bluster opened the door for Fleetwood again when Jimmy Ryan discovered space to unleash a 25 yard blast which Leutwiler could only push around the upright.

But Fleetwood, as ever, showed the power to shoot themselves in both feet - a basic error and a moment of sublime quality from Brown putting them on the back foot.

A simple ball across the back should have been bread and butter for Tyler Forbes.

But the full-back’s hesitation proved costly, Brown nipping in to steal the ball and step on the gas, a stunning finish from 18 yards leaving Chris Maxwell rooted to the spot.

The finish was undoubtedly a moment of quality but the goal once again served to highlight Town’s frailty in wide areas, something Pressley will want to address quickly if he is to lead Fleetwood out of the drop zone.

It’s been the Achilles heel for Fleetwood this term - a problem almost exposed again before the first half was over.

With Shrewsbury stepping up the pressure Forbes went AWOL, Richard Wood heading wide to cover but left for dead by former Town loanee Lian McAlinden.

Fleetwood, a man short in the box, looked sunk but Tyrone Barnett slipped as he pulled the trigger, the shot which should have hit the net instead bouncing just wide of the far post.

The full back issue isn’t the only one which awaits Pressley.

He must also make Town more capable of sustaining pressure around the opposition box - Fleetwood unable to make enough of the second ball as Shrewsbury quickly shut up shop at the back.

Fleetwood’s attacking play is patient but over as quickly as it has begun - the hosts unable to sustain pressure when it really counted.

But they continued to plug away and found chances to draw level soon after the restart.

First there was Amari’i Bell’s darting run, his low cross deflected behind.

From the corner Jamie Proctor managed to get a shot in, inside a crowded box, a vital block denying Town.

Forbes nearly made ammends for his first half error, cutting in from the right and sending a curling effort narrowly over the crossbar as Fleetwood for a while imposed themselves, gaining ground but crucially not goals.

Proctor nearly redressed that balance, rattling the woodwork from barely three yards, Nick Haughton also going close for the hosts with a curling 25-yard effort which tested the Shrews keeper.

The introduction of Ash Hunter proved the tonic for Town - the striker a menace around the Shrews back four.

And one mistake was all he needed, latching onto a loose ball and stealing between the centre half pair.

His touch into the box was slack but the recovery was perfect, slotting low beyond Leutwiler to awaken the Highbury crowd.

Town for the first time in weeks had the bit between their teeth, Hunter with a flick header nearly grabbing a second for himself and Fleetwood.

Micky Mellon was ringing the changes from the Shrewsbury bench but Fleetwood looked ready to impose themselves - even if their football wasn’t always perfect, their passing not always as slick as fans might want.

Sarcevic went for the bulldozer approach, attempting to plough a path through the visitors’ defence, thwarted as he went to pull the trigger.

But the intent and the fire was there, for the first time in more than a month.

Proctor and Sarcevic nearly combined to decide it, a glorious run by the former opening up Mellon’s men, patience paying off as Sarcevic stormed from midfield, connecting first time with the ball into the box, Leutwiler only able to parry.

Town weren’t to be denied.

Hunter could have been the hero of the night, rattling the woodwork as the clock ticked over onto 90 minutes.

Town kept the pressure up, showing they can sustain an attack and it paid dividends.

The ball span out to Bobby Grant, 20 yards out, his piledriver unstoppable, Town getting their just deserts for a passionate, dig deep performance.