Late Thomas goal gives Town all three points at Highbury
Town: Dean Henderson, Mat Sadler, Omar Beckles, Shaun Whalley, Abu Ogogo ©, Carlton Morris, Bryn Morris (Ben Godfrey 85), Luke Hendrie, Jon Nolan, Aristote Nsiala, Alex Rodman (Nathan Thomas 35)
Subs: Craig MacGillivray, Max Lowe, Ben Godfrey, Nathan Thomas, James Bolton, Lenell John-Lewis, Stefan Payne
Fleetwood Town: Alex Cairns, Kevin O’Connor, Ashley Eastham, Nathan Pond ©, Kyle Dempsey, Bobby Grant, Toumani Diagouraga (Jordy Hiwula 56), Paddy Madden, Gethin Jones (Lewie Coyle 78), Ashley Hunter, Jack Sowerby (Conor McAleny 56)
Subs: Chris Neal, Lewie Coyle, Jordy Hiwula, Wes Burns, Conor McAleny, Charles Oliver, Markus Schwabl
Referee: R Joyce
Assistants: A Pashley and M Jones
Fourth Official: T Kirk
Attendance: 2,531 (288)
Shrewsbury Town substitute Nathan Thomas proved to be the difference between the two sides as he set-up Town’s first and then scored the winner in their 2-1 victory over Fleetwood Town. Town took the lead in first-half stoppage time as Shaun Whalley headed home Thomas’ swinging cross. Fleetwood then managed to get themselves back into it through Paddy Madden’s close range finish, but in the 82nd minute Thomas managed to finish off a brilliantly worked team move as Town moved back to the top of Sky Bet League One.
Paul Hurst makes four changes to the side that were beaten 2-1 by Plymouth Argyle on Saturday. Dean Henderson comes straight back into the team after serving his three match ban for improper conduct. There are changes in both full-back positions with Omar Beckles returning at left-back in place of Max Lowe, while Luke Hendrie comes in for just his second start in place of James Bolton. There are also a couple of changes in midfield with Bryn Morris replacing Ben Godfrey in the holding midfield role and Shaun Whalley returns to the side in place of Nathan Thomas.
There was a very fast start from the home side, who forced a corner inside the opening 30 seconds of the game. Town managed to deal with the initial delivery by Nathan Pond was able to lift the ball back in towards the back post, where it was met by the head of Bobby Grant, but the former Town loanee could only hit the stanchion at the side of the goal.
At the other end, Town were inches away from taking the lead after a brilliantly well worked move down the left. The move involved Jon Nolan, Alex Rodman, Abu Ogogo, Omar Beckles and Shaun Whalley and ended with Whalley slipping in Beckles who tried to place his effort into the far corner, but he didn’t quite get enough bend on the shot and it went inches wide.
Town were beginning to get their passing game going and were dominating possession, but it would actually be Fleetwood that would get the next chance of note when Dean Henderson failed to get the required distance on a punch and it fell straight to Paddy Madden who unleashed a first time shot, but thankfully for Town they had enough bodies back to get a block in and Henderson’s blushes were saved.
Fleetwood then almost made their own downfall as Nathan Pond lost out to Jon Nolan 35 yards from goal. Nolan fed Carlton Morris on the left who cut inside before having his shot blocked. The rebound only fell as far as Nolan who in turn teed up Abu Ogogo, but Ogogo’s shot from 20 yards went well wide of the target.
Jon Nolan was becoming more and more influential as the game wore on and he came close to giving Town the lead after 22 minutes when he took the ball past three Fleetwood defenders and strode into the box, but he pulled his left-footed shot and it went well wide in the end.
Nolan was then handed a chance on a plate after a well worked move down the Town left. Bryn Morris slipped Carlton Morris in down the left channel and he cut the ball back for Nolan who was unmarked 10 yards out, but he couldn’t get the desired connection as he tried to side foot the ball home and the chance went begging.
Paul Hurst was then forced into a first-half substitution as Alex Rodman went down holding his hamstring. After a minute of treatment from Chris Skitt it was decided that he wouldn’t be able to carry on and Nathan Thomas came on in his place.
The injury took a bit of spark out of the game, but a minute before the break Town created another good opportunity. A decent spell of possession saw Town work the ball out to right where Luke Hendrie slipped in Shaun Whalley. Whalley delivered a cross that looked as if it would be going into the hands of Alex Cairns, but it was slightly too high for the Fleetwood goalkeeper and instead hit the head of Carlton Morris, who appeared to be taken by surprise as his header from four yards out sailed over the bar.
Three additional minutes were shown at the end of the first-half and in that time Town had their most worrying moment of the first-half. Jack Sowerby got in behind the Town defence and cut the ball back for Paddy Madden who shot first time from 12 yards, but a combination of Luke Hendrie and Dean Henderson were able to block the shot.
However, Town would go into the break 1-0 up as they produced a brilliant move in the dying seconds of the half. Omar Beckles travelled over 40 yards with the ball down the left-hand-side before laying the ball back for Nathan Thomas who put in a sumptuous delivery that Shaun Whalley met at the front post to head Town in front.
The opening five minutes of the half were quite slow, but Town then came alive and were once again the side in the ascendancy. Carlton Morris was becoming more involved with some powerful running and he almost played in Nathan Thomas when he pulled a cross back from the byline, but a Fleetwood man managed to get back and put it behind for a corner.
Town’s domination led to Uwe Rosler turning to his bench just 10 minutes into the half and he made a couple of bold substitutions by bringing off two midfielders in the form of Toumani Diagouraga and Jack Sowerby and replacing them with two strikers in Jordy Hiwula and Conor McAleny.
The changes had the desired effect straight away as Hiwula set up Paddy Madden for a shot from the edge of the box. Dean Henderson did brilliantly well to tip it round the post for a corner, but Madden wouldn’t be denied from set-piece. Henderson failed to come and claim the initial delivery and as the ball bounced around in the box, Madden pounced from six yards to level up the scores.
The home side now well and truly had their tails up and were flying into tackles that previously they had been second best too. However, Town continued to look dangerous going forward, particularly down the right where Luke Hendrie was proving to be a good outlet. Nathan Thomas was also looking dangerous down the other flank and seemed to have the better of Fleetwood right-back Gethin Jones, skinning him on a number of occasions, but he was unable to find the all-important final ball.
Bryn Morris then went close after some good work from Shaun Whalley down the right. Whalley took the ball past a Fleetwood man before playing a neat one-two with Carlton Morris and teeing up Bryn, who tried his luck from just outside the box, but his curling effort went half a yard wide of the post.
Abu Ogogo was the next to test Alex Cairns as Town continued to knock on the door. Some good work from Nathan Thomas and Carlton Morris helped tee up the Town skipper, but his shot was straight at Cairns.
With just over ten minutes of the game remaining Town got themselves back in front with a brilliantly well worked team goal. The move started in Town’s own half with Bryn Morris who played the ball to Carlton Morris, who in turn moved it onto Shaun Whalley. Whalley then cut inside, playing a neat one-two with Carlton before feeding Nathan Thomas on the left edge of the box. Thomas cut inside the Fleetwood right-back before poking the ball into the bottom corner.
With Town now looking to run down the clock, Paul Hurst opted to make his second change of the evening by bringing on Ben Godfrey in place of Bryn Morris in midfield. This was then followed a couple of minutes later by the introduction of Lenell John-Lewis in place of Carlton Morris.
The fourth official indicated that there would be four additional minutes, but Town didn’t even offer up a sniff of an opportunity as they ran the clock down.