Fleetwood Town 0 Shrewsbury Town 3: Garner injury worry as unbeaten run is halted by second-half strikes

Ryan Bowman, Josh Vela and Daniel Udoh were on target for Shrewsbury in the second half as they climbed above Town in the League One table.

Sunday, 26th December 2021, 5:36 pm

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Bowman’s ninth of the season – and he will surely have not had an easier finish this term – early in the second half broke the deadlock on one of the four Boxing Day fixtures to go ahead in the third tier.

With the Cod Army chasing the game, Vela showed a cool head to pick his spot when surrounded by defenders in the box and Udoh used raw power to crash home their third with 10 minutes to go.

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Tom Clarke and Conor McLaughlin had been solid at the back until Fleetwood conceded three in the second half against Shrewsbury

The Shrews started the day hovering uneasily over the relegation zone, with Fleetwood two places above but only on goal difference.

But victory took the Shropshire side above Town, whose injury worries in attack took another hit with Ged Garner going off after 35 minutes.

Having been entrusted with the head coach's role for the rest of the season after taking seven points from Town's previous three games, Stephen Crainey made one change to the starting team that had brought a point back from Morecambe before Christmas.

Callum Camps replaced Shayden Morris, who dropped to the bench. It was midfielder Camps' first start since fracturing his skull in the FA Cup defeat by Burton Albion seven weeks earlier.

The early exchanges passed by with very little incident, other than Harrison Biggins’ speculative shot from distance and the visitors’ leading scorer Bowman trying to add to his tally with a lobbed effort.

But, with the Cod Army man firing wide and Bowman being denied by Alex Cairns, there really was little to shout about for either side, with openings virtually non-existant in the final third.

Part of that should be credited to Town’s centre-back pairing of Tom Clarke and Conor McLaughlin, who had provided Cairns with solid protection, with just one goal conceded in their previous three games.

Shrewsbury’s back three were proving equally steadfast, however, and Town’s chances suffered a blow when their leading marksman Garner limped off 10 minutes before the break. Chris Conn-Clarke came on to make his fifth appearance of the season.

There was a scare late in the half for the hosts, when McLaughlin’s header from a cross into the box fell for Nathanael Ogbeta inside the D but he got nothing like the contact he wanted on his first-time effort. Though his shot had Cairns scampering across his goal, it bounced harmlessly wide.

If the first half had been tame to the point of sterility, a far livelier second started with a bang, though it was the visitors making all the noise with Bowman taking less than five minutes to knock in his ninth of the season.

Ogbeta will be credited with the assist but it was Luke Leahy at the heart of it.

He slipped a perfectly-weighted ball behind the back line for Ogbeta to charge on to.

And, with Cairns committed to closing him down, Ogbeta simply knocked the ball across goal to give Bowman the easiest of finishes in front of the away supporters.

Conn-Clarke went as close as anyone in red to an equaliser, charging at the defence on a break from a corner but Marco Marosi was equal to it.

Marosi did spill a Biggins shot 20 minutes from time but pounced to regather the ball before Conn-Clarke could capitalise.

Fleetwood’s resistance was broken by the second goal on 72 minutes.

Vela received the ball on the right-hand side of the box and evaded challenges to pick his spot in the bottom corner.

Udoh opted for sheer power for his goal 10 minutes from time, smashing his shot from the edge of the box in off the underside of Cairns’ bar to seal Crainey’s first home defeat since he took the reins at Highbury.

It leaves Fleetwood 19th and still two points clear of the bottom four, though they have now played more games than all the teams below them.

Town are next due in action on Wednesday at Wigan Athletic, who called off their Boxing Day clash with Crewe Alexandra due to a Covid outbreak.

Fleetwood: Cairns, Johnston, Clarke, McLaughlin, Andrew, Biggins, Camps (Morris 60), Matete, Lane, Hayes (Johnson 77), Garner (Con-Clarke 36); Subs not used: Crellin, Clark, Boyle, McMillan

Shrewsbury: Marosi, Pennington, Ebanks-Landell, Nurse, Bennett, Vela, Davis, Leahy, Ogbeta (Daniels 90), Bowman (Pyke 86), Udoh (Cosgrove 86); Subs not used: Burgoyne, Caton, Leshabela, Craig..

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