Willoughby’s brace sinks Shrewsbury
Kurt Willoughby’s brace ensured Fleetwood Town’s Youth side began their new league campaign with a win, having seen off the challenge of Shrewsbury Town on Saturday morning.
The Cod Army travelled to Shropshire in good spirits after a fine pre-season, and seventeen year old Willoughby netted in the 3rd and 52nd minute respectively.
Willoughby’s first was neatly taken as he rounded the goalkeeper before finding the net from a tight angle, while his second was a powerful header which crashed in off the underside of the bar.
Craig Madden’s side started positively, and got their just rewards after only three minutes. Shrewsbury’s defence failed to deal with a through ball from Lanre Olapade, and Willoughby took advantage to nip in and round keeper Callum Burton to put his side a goal to the good.
A poor misplaced pass from Fleetwood’s Jordan Lazenbury presented Shrewsbury striker Scott Ryan with an opportunity, but he dragged his effort wide of Liam Bleeker’s near post.
Lanre Olapade’s inviting crosses from the right hand side were proving a constant threat, and on 13 minutes, Kurt Willoughby saw his header fly inches over the crossbar.
Salop’s Sam Molyneux was their most creative force, but was given far too much time and space to roam forward on many an occasion. With 17 minutes on the clock, Molyneux, a second year forward with at Shrewsbury, burst through the middle and played a clever one-two with Scott Ryan before unleashing a fierce drive which fizzed past the post.
As the half wore on, Fleetwood began to get sloppier, and the home side were arguably the better team and playing some neat football in the process. Matthew Evans’s shot was tipped around the post by Liam Bleeker, before the goalkeeper was called into action again in the 35th minute as he pushed Molyneux’s strike onto the bar.
Shrewsbury’s good spell of pressure continued, and another chance was wasted as Scott Ryan fired wide.
However, to their credit, Fleetwood managed to weather the storm, and three minutes before the interval had a chance of their own, as tricky winger Shane Glean hit a twenty yard effort wide of home keeper Callum Burton’s goal.
Fleetwood’s second half performance was very thorough and professional as they restricted Shrewsbury to very few clear cut chances.
Cod Army central midfielder Jordan Lazenbury saw his cheeky forty yard lob go just over the bar, before the impressive Willoughby netted his second of the game.
Lazenbury’s corner was met by Willoughby, who rose highest in the box to power his header over Callum Burton and in off the underside of the bar.
The second goal boosted Fleetwood, and in particular Willoughby, who was in on the action once again, but this time saw his left footed strike fly over.
Shrewsbury weren’t a patch on the side they were during the first 45 minutes, and failed to find any real rhythm to their play. Sam Molyneux was still looking like their most dangerous asset, but Fleetwood’s back-line stood tall and denied the playmaker.
Keano Deacon was the next to have a go for Craig Madden’s men as he dribbled in field and unleashed a low strike in which keeper Burton did well to tip wide of his post.
Deacon was in on the action again in the 76th minute, as a right wing cross from the exciting Lanre Olapade found him on the edge of the area, but the midfielder’s shot was easily dealt with.
Fleetwood’s rearguard did have a scare with six minutes remaining as Sam Molyneux nearly pounced on a defensive lapse, but shot wide from close range, and ensured that the Lancashire side went home with three points and a clean sheet in their opening game of the season.
Cod Army assistant manager, Mark Bowley, said: “The lads worked really well. We put a lot of work in during pre-season on fitness, finishing and a lot of closing down, and I think all three came into fruition today to be honest.
The lad (Kurt Willoughby) has worked hard all pre-season to be fair to him and today he’s shown what a class finisher he is. They weren’t easy chances at all but he took them really well. We go to Macclesfield now next Saturday, but there’s a lot of work to do on the training ground as you can see. The boys are only young lads, but they’re young, they’re fresh and keen to work and it’s great”.
Two goal hero, Kurt Willoughby, was also pleased with the way his side played and had this to say after the game: “It was good to win our first game and our confidence is high for the upcoming games so it’s all good for team spirit. It was a good through ball and I knocked it round the keeper and it was a good start for us. For the second one, Jordan put a great ball in and I just got on the end of it and it hit the back of the net, so we’ve got the three points and I’m happy”.
Fleetwood Town: Liam Bleeker, Lanre Olapade, Danny Vile, Robbie Bromley, Michael Muscat, Dominic Barnett, Keano Deacon, Jordan Lazenbury, Aidan Wainwright, Kurt Willoughby, Shane Glean.
Fleetwood Subs: Oliver Martin, Connor Smith, Matthew Williams, Abdul Rajab
Shrewsbury Town: Callum Burton, Lewis Jarman, Nathan Mills, Sam Brown, Tom Astley, George Carpenter, Matthew Jones, Jack Parrish, Scott Ryan, Sam Molyneux, Matthew Evans.
Shrewsbury Subs: Ryan Hickman, Alex Ashton, Jeff Watkins, Ethan Jones, David Easthope.