Shrewsbury Town relinquish their lead twice as they manage a 2-2 draw against Joey Barton’s Fleetwood.
With nine minutes remaining, Jason Cummings’ first goal since October, appeared to end Shrewsbury’s five game winless league run.
However, Fleetwood are a tough nut to crack as they have lost just one league fixture at home this campaign. And Josh Morris’ late strike ensured that record would stay intact.
It was a case of after the lord mayors show during the majority of the first period, which was perhaps to be expected following Town’s thrilling mid-week FA Cup win.
But Shaun Whalley nudged the visitors ahead just before the break. The Cod Army would soon be level thanks to former Leeds United full-back Lewie Coyle. And the points would be proven to be shared as Morris cancelled out Cummings’ 81st minute effort.
Sam Ricketts made four changes from the side that beat Bristol City. Max O’Leary returned to replace Joe Murphy, whilst Shaun Whalley, Dave Edwards, and Callum Lang were drafted in. Ryan Giles has returned to Wolves – Dan Udoh and Sean Goss dropped to the bench. Shrewsbury announced the loan capture of Sam Hart from Blackburn Rovers yesterday, he was in a Town squad for the first time.
The home side began the contest in the ascendancy. Former Sheffield United striker Ched Evans fired narrowly wide after connecting to Paul Coutts’ corner.
The Welshman was in the thick of the action during the opening 15 minutes. Danny Andrew cushioned a header for Evans who forced Max O’Leary into a smart stop. Shrewsbury were penned in as Fleetwood continued to pile on the pressure. Andrew whipped a free-kick wide of the target.
Then, Wes Burns ghosted in behind the Town defence and managed to find Paul Coutts. The ex Preston and Derby midfielder tired his luck from range but didn’t trouble O’Leary.
Fleetwood continued to dominate proceedings, and were within a whisker of breaking the deadlock. A quick free-kick allowed Lewie Coyle to thread a pass through to Wes Burns, who spun his marker and struck his attempt fractionally wide.
In the 36th minute, Shrewsbury finally woke up from their slumber. Shaun Whalley seized control on the edge of the box and blasted a shot off the crossbar.
However, Whalley was not to be denied three minutes later. Callum Lang was initially thwarted by Alex Cairns, but Shaun Whalley was alive to bundle home.
Whatever Joey Barton said at half-time clearly had the desired impact, as it took the home side just two minutes after the restart to level. Ched Evans slipped Lewie Coyle through on goal, and the defender fired across O’Leary and into the back of the net.
Fleetwood were buoyed by their equaliser and went in search of another. Max O’Leary appeared to tip over Paddy Madden’s dipping strike, but a goal kick was awarded instead.
The game entered a lull for roughly 15 minutes, until Shrewsbury sprang back into life. Callum Lang’s dangerous cross was aimed toward Dan Udoh, but Harry Soutter produced a vital interception to spare Callum Connolly’s blushes as he slipped in the build-up.
Shrewsbury also relied on their defensive attributes to keep the score 1-1. Ched Evans found space in the box and tried to pick out substitute Josh Morris, but Omar Beckles was alert to clear his lines.
The visitors nudged themselves ahead in the 81st minute. Jason Cummings strode unchallenged and smashed the ball beyond Alex Cairns, to score his 4th goal in a Town shirt.
But Shrewsbury squandered their lead for the second time with four minutes remaining. Josh Morris lashed the ball beyond Max O’Leary from inside the area, as the Town loanee stood absolutely no chance.
Sam Ricketts will be disappointed that his side were unable to hold onto their lead. However, Fleetwood are a force to be reckoned with on their own turf, so in context this can be viewed as a decent point.
Shrewsbury’s next game is the eagerly anticipated FA Cup 4th round tie against Premier League leaders Liverpool a week tomorrow. Fleetwood are away to Bristol Rovers in a league clash next Saturday.
Fleetwood Town: (4-3-3)
1. Cairns, 2. Coyle, 6. Souttar, 4. Connolly, 3. Andrew, 15. Coutts, 28. Sowerby (77), 8. Dempsey, 7. Burns, 9. Evans, 17. Madden
Subs: 5. Eastham, 10. McAleny, 11. Morris (77), 13. Gilks, 27. Biggins, 32. Saunders, 33. Hill
Subs Not Used: 5. Eastham, 10. McAleny, 13. Gilks, 27. Biggins, 32. Saunders, 33. Hill
Shrewsbury Town: (3-4-3)
25. O’Leary, 5. Williams, 24. Ebanks-Landell, 2. Pierre, 17. Love, 8. Norburn, 28. Laurent, 3. Golbourne (45), 7. Whalley, 9. Lang (69), 4. Edwards (61)
Subs: 1. Murphy, 6. Beckles (45), 15. Walker, 22. Goss, 23. Udoh (61), 35. Cummings (69), 42. Hart
Subs Not Used: 1. Murphy, 15. Walker, 22. Goss, 42. Hart
Other League One Results
AFC Wimbledon 1 – 0 Peterborough
Accrington 1 – 2 Southend
Bolton 0 – 1 Portsmouth
Doncaster 0 – 1 Coventry
Gillingham 1 – 1 Oxford
Lincoln 1 – 0 Blackpool
MK Dons 0 – 1 Sunderland
Rotherham 3 – 0 Bristol Rovers
Wycombe 2 – 1 Rochdale