Fleetwood Town narrowly lost out 1-0 to Shrewsbury Town on Saturday afternoon in their Sky Bet League One encounter at Highbury Stadium.
Dan Udoh's first half strike from close range was the difference ast Highbury on Saturday, with Town going down to ten men with Jay Lynch seeing red for his tackle on Ryan Bowman late in the first half.
Josh Earl was also shown a straight red for an off the ball incident late in the game, and despite Town throwing everything at Shrewsbury, it is a second consecutive defeat on home soil for the Cod Army.
It was a slow start to the game on the Fylde Coast, and within the first few minutes, Shrewsbury man Jordan Shipley went down holding his knee following a collision with Fleetwood defender Shaun Rooney.
The visitors were made to make an early substitute, with Shipley making way for Mal Benning for a like for like swap.
On Fleetwood’s first meaningful attack, Josh Earl found a yard of space on the left flank and delivered a great ball into the box for Jack Marriott and the other attacking players, and it was eventually cleared away for a Town corner – from the resulting set-piece, Rooney headed wide.
Town had a glorious chance to take the lead with 18 minutes on the clock. Rooney found Ryan Graydon on the right side, he played an early ball into the box for Marriott – who had to throw himself at the ball, just failing to get the all-important touch to send it into the back of the net.
Marriott was getting himself more involved in the match and thought he had opened his account for the season. Graydon did so well to beat his man on the inside, and when the ball was pulled back to the former Peterborough striker, it looks in, but Chey Dunkley was there to block it out of nowhere.
Junior Quitirna had Town’s next big chance. The ball fell kindly to the creative midfielder and on the half-volley again thought he had scored! The initial shot hit the near post, rolled across the line before being cleared away – what an opportunity!
Despite Town’s dominance, it was the Salops who took the lead through a mistake from Robertson in the middle of the park. With a loose touch, Udoh found himself with half the pitch to run into and beat Lynch between the sticks, which he did with calmness and composure.
The madness continued as within two minutes, Lynch headed down the tunnel for an early bath after seeing a straight red for a tackle on Ryan Bowman – who beat the keeper to the ball and then felt the touch – not the ending to the half Scott Brown would have wanted.
Academy graduate Stephen McMullan replaced Danny Mayor just before the interval, making his second ever appearance for the Club since arriving last year.
Fleetwood’s boss Brown made one change at the break, with Carl Johnston coming on for Robertson in midfield, a position the Northern Ireland international knows from his Under-18s days in the Academy.
With Town down the ten men, they still looked comfortable in possession, and caused the visitors some issues on set-pieces, but whenever the ball was loose in the box, it was always a blue shirt that got to the ball first.
Salop midfielder Carl Winchester gambled just before the hour mark after Udoh’s cheeky backheel, and when he got into a shooting position, he panicked and swiped wildly – was a let off for the Cods.
Marriott did eventually put the ball into the back of the net after Quitirna found him with a lovely curling cross from the left side. As the ball hit the netting, the linesman’s flag went straight up, it must have been close.
It was all Fleetwood for a spell, with the Salops happy to sit deep and soak up pressure. Graydon worked the ball well 25-yards from goal and looked to curl one past Marosi – but the keeper parried it to safety.
With twenty minutes left, young forward Theo Williams was introduced into the fray, replacing Marriott up top. After joining the club in the summer from Sheffield United, and scoring two in two for the Development Squad, it was a great moment for the youngster.
With the clock winding down, the decision was made to send Rooney up front for his ariel presence and did win two headers inside the box, both being glanced away from the far post out for goal kicks.
Josh Earl was involved in an off the ball incident late into stoppage time and saw straight red. We will have to see what went on in the highlights to see that one back.
Town suffer their second home defeat of the season, but there will be some positives to pick out from the performance for Scott Brown and his coaching staff. Charlton up next for the Cods next weekend in the capital.
Town XI: Lynch (GK), Lawal, Robertson (Johnston, 46’), Vela © (Broom, 80’), Mayor (McMullan, 45’) (GK), Marriott (Williams, 73’), Quitirna (Hayes, 80’), Graydon, Nsiala, Rooney, Earl.
Subs not used: Holgate, Patterson.
Shrewsbury XI: Marosi (GK), Anderson, Feeney, Winchester, Bowman (Mata, 63’), Udoh (Phillips, 63), Perry (Bennett, 80’), Bayliss, Dunkley ©, Shipley (Benning, 8’), Kenneh.
Subs not used: Burgoyne (GK), Hernes, Flanagan.