Fleetwood Town began 2019 with a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Shrewsbury Town on New Year’s Day.
In a tight game with little to separate the teams, a point was deemed a fair result, despite Wes Burns going close in the second half for the Cod Army.
Barton made two changes to the side that started the game against Portsmouth at Highbury on Saturday with James Husband and James Wallace come into the starting eleven. Ash Hunter dropped to the bench, with Dean Marney suspended.
It was an even start to the match with both Shrewsbury and Fleetwood having chances at either end of the pitch with Paddy Madden going close after great build-up play by Ross Wallace, and with Aaron Holloway having an opening for the Salops in the first five minutes.
Former Fleetwood striker Holloway was let loose moments later by Norburn in the middle of the park, and the former Town striker was allowed to drive at the back four, and as the forward went to strike at goal, it was Ash Eastham to dive in and block the shot which was heading goal bound.
Barton’s side nearly took the lead through top goalscorer Madden after Ross Wallace’s out swinging corner was whipped into the box. James Wallace did well to get the first contact before heading down to the Irishman, but he couldn’t quite get the connection he wanted to find the back of the net.
After a training ground move from the corner spot, Lewie Coyle delivered in a beautiful ball into the box, which was cleared by Anthony Grant only to Craig Morgan, whose volley at goal was saved by Steve Arnold. Great pressure from the away side.
Fleetwood really grew into the game after half an hour with a number of opportunities falling their way, and with them knocking the ball around well and creating chances in front of goal, the only element missing was the opening goal of the match.
Shrewsbury made one change at the break with Alex Gilliead coming on for Grant, with the impression that he would get forward to support the two up front for the Salops.
However it was James Bolton who had the first attempt at goal in the second half and after a lovely ball from the substitute found the full back at the far post, but his effort was pulled narrowly wide of Alex Cairns’ goal.
Lee Angol came into the fray for Holloway and made an instant impact as the striker dropped deep the collect the ball, and with a clever flick over the top of the Fleetwood back line, Okenabirhie was through on goal until he was closed down by Coyle. A vital challenge.
Barton made his first change on the 70th minute mark with Ash Hunter replacing Ross Wallace in midfield and it was also a change in formation with the head coach going from a 4-3-3 formation to a 4-4-2 with Hunter and Burns on the flanks, with the deadly duo of Evans and Madden back up top.
With the attacking change, and with Conor McAleny coming onto the field of play, it was as if Fleetwood were going for the points and had a good opportunity with eight minutes left on the clock when Burns and Madden drove forward, but once again it was the lack of quality in the final third that let the visitors down.
Burns thought he had won it for Town after Madden played the ball into the path of the Welshman, but you have to give credit to the Shrewsbury goalkeeper who did well to smother the ball with Burns getting a touch before the goalkeeper.
After six consecutive defeats on the road in the league, Fleetwood stop the rot with a point in Shropshire on New Year’s Day.
Shrewsbury XI: Arnold (GK), Haynes, Sadler ©, Docherty, Okenanirhie, Bolton, Holloway (Angol 56’), Waterfall, Laurent, Norburn, Grant (Gilliead, 46’).
Subs not used: Coleman (GK), Emmanuel, Beckles, John-Lewis, Sears.
Town’s XI: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Eastham, Burns, Evans (McAleny 80’) Madden, Morgan ©, R. Wallace (Hunter 72’), Husband, Biggins, J. Wallace (Sheron 80’).
Subs not used: P. Jones (GK), Holt, Dempsey, Bolger,