Devante Cole strike enough for all three points in Shropshire
In what was a cold day at Greenhous Meadow, it was Uwe Rosler’s side who ran out 1-0 winners in the opening match of 2017.
Devante Cole’s ninth minute goal was enough to seal all three points, and extend Town’s unbeaten run to 11 games.
Rosler made four changes to the side that beat Oldham Athletic last time out. Cole, Chris Long and Victor Nirennold all returned to the side, whilst newly signed defender Ben Davies made his debut from the start. Meanwhile injuries to Shrewsbury’s Jack Grimmer and Ethan Jones ruled them out of a squad place.
The first real piece of action of the game saw Shaun Whalley test the capability of goalkeeper Alex Cairns from an over-hit free kick, one in which Cairns passed, saving easily.
Fleetwood’s first chance came when Long’s effort went straight into the hands of Shrews ‘keeper Jayson Leutwiler. Yet, it was the hosts who threatened shortly after but Whalley saw his headed effort go over the bar.
Despite the home pressure it was the visitors who took the lead through Cole, who tapped in from close range after some find build-up play from Amari’i Bell down the left.
The visitors’ good start continued through fine counter attacking, which almost saw the Adam El-Abd put into his own net. A secondary chance came when from the resulting corner saw Cian Bolger steer his header just wide.
New signing Davies looked calm and assured at the back in the opening 20 minutes, soaking up the hosts pressure well.
Despite the home pressure, Fleetwood’s formation was working well, nullifying the hosts, whilst additionally having an attacking presence up front. This came to a head when Bobby Grant dispossessed the ball off the last defender, but saw his one-v-one effort saved. Could and should have been a two goal lead.
Cod pressure showed no signs of letting up. On the half hour mark, Davies went close following Kyle Dempsey’s free kick into the box and Devante Cole could have doubled his tally for the day but his headed effort was saved well.
Bolger had his header saved from the resulting corner, but Town defender Nirennold was forced into fouling the opposition attacker on the half way line following a clearance, and was shown a yellow card.
The second half started with each team failing to stamp their authority, yet just five minutes into the second stanza, the visitors thought they were awarded a penalty after Cole went down in the area. To the frustration of the visitors, after deliberation with his linesman, referee Ross Joyce ruled there was an offside in the build-up – cancelling his earlier decision.
Fleetwood continued to assert their dominance with Cole again proving a handful for the Shrews defence, yet this changed in favour of the hosts who looked to threaten on the hour mark forcing numerous corner opportunities out of the visitors.
Whalley again fired over the bar and Rosler, following the mounting pressure, resorted to a double substitution, with both George Glendon and Ashley Hunter coming on.
The changed seemed to work as Hunter proved an immediate impact injecting some much needed pace. But Shrewsbury battled back well and Gary Deegan went close from twenty yards out.
Goalscorer Cole came off to a well-deserved pat on the back and with ten minutes to go, but then it was Junior Brown, who like Deegan saw his effort sail wide of the goal.
Despite the late efforts of the hosts, Shrewsbury could not break the resilience of the Cod back-line who led by veteran Nathan Pond commanded their area well, blocking anything that came their way. It was a quite simply a brilliant defensive display.
Fleetwood: Cairns; Nirennold, Bolger, Pond (c), Davies, Bell; Grant, McLaughlin, Dempsey, Cole, Long. Subs: Neal, Ball, Davis, Haughton, Glendon, Hunter, Sowerby.
Attendance: 5030 (96 away)