MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood 1 Shrewsbury 2

Uwe Rosler
Uwe Rosler

Before kick-off Fleetwood's assistant boss Rob Kelly spoke of the comparisons between this promotion chasing Shrewsbury side and the Highbury class of 2016/17.

And this 2-1 win from Paul Hurst's surprise promotion chasing package had all the ingredients of the Fleetwood side that upset the apple-cart to challenge for automatic promotion.

Grit, organisation and simplicity were the keys for Shrewsbury's victory at Highbury with another staple of the Fleetwood from last term - the ability to find a late winner.

This season rather than waiting for Fleetwood to find a way back from the dead the Cod Army have spent the final 10 minutes of games chewing their nails waiting for something to go wrong.

And after Rosler's fresh four strong attack saw Paddy Madden cancel out Shaun Whalley's first half injury time opener it looked like the hosts would end their losing spree.

But once again they switched off in the dying embers and Nathan Thomas popped up with an 82nd minute winner as Fleetwood faltered once again.

Fleetwood Town boss Rosler recalled keeper Alex Cairns to the starting line-up as he made four changes from the side that lost 3-2 to Scunthorpe last time out.

Cairns' last league game for Town was the 2-0 home defeat to Gillingham back in December but he got the nod ahead of number one Chris Neal.

George Glendon is injured while Lewie Coyle and Conor McAleny moved to the bench.

Bobby Grant, Gethin Jones and Jack Sowerby all came into the side as Rosler opted for a new 4-4-1-1 formation.

Grant and Ash Hunter were deployed on the wings of the midfield with Sowerby starting just behind Paddy Madden up front.

The new formation caused the Shrews some problems early doors as Grant nodded a re-worked Hunter corner wide of the back stick and Madden blasted a speculative effort way over.

But it was Shrewsbury with the biggest chance in the opening stages and once again it was far too easy as Beckles strolled into the box. Though his finish was not up to the standards of a second-placed billing as he curled the ball wide.

Madden again was in the action, pouncing on a Henderson knock down but his effort was deflected wide by Nsiala.

Pond's miss-kick allowed Shrewsbury in but he recovered to make a strong block before Alex Rodman eventually blazed the ball wide.

The warning signs were there once again as Nolan breezed past Fleetwood's static midfield and defence before fizzing the post past the right stick as the promotion chasers closed in on an opener.

Fleetwood grew into the game as the half wore on but despite some lively bursts from Hunter they could not find an end product in the final third and the Shrews showed their teeth once again as Carlton Morris slid the ball to Nolan but his first time strike sailed past the target as the Cod Army held their breath.

Despite the fact the Shrews had the better of the chances Fleetwood absorbed the pressure. But they sensed blood just before the break as Whalley's cross from the left outfoxed Cairns to fall for Morris at the back stick but he nodded wide with the goal at his mercy.

As the three minutes of injury time was announced Fleetwood had a golden opportunity to take the lead as Hunter's cross from the right trickled into the path of Madden but his effort cannoned into Hendrie and the Shrews scored just seconds later with Whalley nodding home from close range.

Hunter blasted the ball straight down Henderson's throat as Fleetwood searched for a way back.

With Fleetwood on a five match losing streak Rosler went for the leveller throwing McAleny and Hiwula on for Diagouraga and Sowerby.

That saw them shift to a 4-2-1-3 formation and it paid dividends as they levelled just after the hour mark.

Great pressing by Hiwula saw him tee-up Madden who had dropped into the pocket just behind the front three and his strike was just tipped away by the diving Henderson.

But Fleetwood kept the pressure on and after Hunter's corner was hooked back into the danger zone by Pond that man Madden kept up his scoring spree to nbet his third for the club as he pounced from close range.

It was set-piece defending the Highbury faithful are used to seeing but this time, fortunately it was the opposition who wilted from a dead ball situation.

With Fleetwood back in the game the Shrews woke up with Bryn Morris curling the ball over and as the clock ticked on you could sense the Shrews would have another chance.

They did and it came again late in the day in the 82nd minute as Nathan Thomas danced his way into the box before rifling home.

It was a feeling of deflation the Cod Army have come accustomed too in recent weeks as Rosler's men sank to a sixth straight defeat despite a spirited second half.

Fleetwood: Cairns, Jones (Coyle, 78) Eastham, Pond, O'Connor, Dempsey, Diagouraga (Hiwula, 56), Sowerby (McAleny, 55), Grant, Hunter, Madden. Subs: Neal, Coyle, Hiwula, Burns, McAleny, Oliver, Schwabl.

Shrewsbury: Henderson, Sadler, Beckles, Whalley, Ogogo, C Morris, B Morris, Hendrie, Nolan, Nsiala, Rodman (Thomas, 34). Subs not used: MacGillivray, Lowe, Godfrey, Bolton, John-Lewis, Payne.

Referee: R Joyce.