An 89th minute header from Aristote Nsiala saw Fleetwood Town lose 1-0 at Shrewsbury Town on Saturday.
Nsiala connected to Shaun Whalley’s corner one minute before time to win the game for the league leaders, who stretched their unbeaten run to 15 Sky Bet League One games.
Town battled hard in extremely difficult conditions at Montgomery Waters Stadium, and were probably unfortunate to not come away with a draw.
Uwe Rosler made four changes to the starting XI that began Tuesday’s 1-1 draw Scunthorpe United, with starts being given to Conor McAleny, Aiden O’Neill, Markus Schwabl and Baily Cargill as the head coach looked to dent Shrewsbury’s remarkable run.
The hosts began like a side top of the league, but conditions were making it difficult for both sides with the brisk winds and rain of Storm Brian swept across the Montgomery Waters Stadium.
Whalley was the first Shrewsbury player to test goalkeeper Alex Cairns as he fired a low shot at him from outside the area, but Cairns comfortably gathered.
Despite the blustery weather, the home side were able to play some good passing football in the early stages and were showing why their position at the top of the table was no fluke. However, Whalley’s effort was the only chance of note inside 20 minutes, they did show signs of creating something threatening.
The Cod Army themselves though did look lively going forward as Amari’i Bell flashed a cross across the face of goal. McAleny, making his first start since his return from injury also looked good on the attack.
Shrewsbury were dominating possession but were struggling to break down an organised Fleetwood back line, and fortune did almost fall in the Cod Army’s favour as McAleny almost got the better of goalkeeper Dean Henderson after a defensive error by Nsiala, but Henderson managed to clear the danger before McAleny could round him.
Former Fleetwood man Junior Brown tested Cairns with a long distance strike before half time, before he then flashed a header towards goal from a corner.
Storm Brian was receding and the dying winds made play easier for both sides, and it was Fleetwood who had the first chance of the second half as Kyle Dempsey wriggled into the area before firing a shot wide of the mark.
The Shrews also came out fighting as Carlton Morris connected with Whalley’s ball to fire at Cairns within the opening two minutes of the half. Whalley was having an impressive game and tried himself from distance, but again Cairns was better to it.
Fleetwood were lucky not to concede when Cairns misjudged an aerial ball, which led to almighty scramble in the six yard box, but the keeper made amends for his error and smothered the ball away from the danger of Alex Rodman very well.
Shrewsbury began to control possession and were causing problems in their final third, but still Fleetwood were defending gallantly and denying the home crowd the goal they were praying for. Captain Abu Ogogo came close with a low shot from outside the area which went wide of the right post.
Town were still pressing for a goal though, and came close when Dempsey’s corner was smashed across the face of goal, but no one in a red shirt was there to tap home.
It was perhaps testament to Fleetwood’s defending that Shrewsbury were reduced to long range chances, as Whalley again tried his luck – but his curling shot went wide.
As the game drew to a close and looking like it was to be a goalless draw, Shrewsbury found a winner in the dying seconds. A corner was swung in by Whalley, Nsiala leaped the highest in the area to float a header into the corner much to the agony of all in a red shirt. It was harsh on Fleetwood, who had defended brilliantly in the match.
Five minutes of stoppage time saw Shrewsbury both battle for a second and defend their lead for their lives as Town fell to defeat.
Shrewsbury XI: Henderson (GK), Godfrey, Sadler, Whalley, Ogogo ©, C Morris (John-Lewis), Brown (Beckles), Bolton (Payne), Nolan, Nsiala, Rodman.
Subs not used: MacGillivray, Dodds, Ghanoua, B Morris.
Fleetwood XI: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Bell, O’Neill (Grant), Eastham, Pond, Dempsey, McAleny (Hiwula), Schwabl (Hunter), Cargill, Cole.
Subs not used: Neal (GK), Burns, Rodgers, Sowerby.
Attendance: 5,989 (171 away)
Referee: N Kinseley