Their Achilles heel of defending on set-pieces might have been their undoing but there is one stat that the Cod Army are not used to seeing from this Uwe Rosler crop; no shots on target.
Shrewsbury are fast becoming this term’s Fleetwood as Paul Hurst mixes a bunch of ingredients Rosler used to transform his side from relegation fodder to promotion candidates.
That same mix of strong defending and brutality in both boxes and never-say-die spirit saw Shrewsbury roll on to 15 games unbeaten and bypass Town in a similar fashion to Fleetwood’s own 1-0 wins at MK Dons and Coventry last season.
They limited to Town to just one major chance – a low Kyle Dempsey effort that crashed past the post – with Bobby Grant skimming one wide from distance.
No shots on target is not something the 171 travelling Cods are used to witnessing.
However, they could not have failed a notice a performance from the Shrews’ late scorer Aristote Nsiala which was reminiscent of Cian Bolger’s displays last term.
Rosler’s side nearly executed their gameplan of parking the bus to perfection but a late lack of concentration at the back saw Nsiala out-jump both Nathan Pond and Devante Cole to nod home Shaun Whalley’s corner with a minute to spare.
Cruel, butit was deserved as they finally found a way past Town’s stubborn defence.
Fleetwood striker Conor McAleny returned to the starting line-up for the first time since August but his return could not stop them from losing to Shrewsbury for the first time in their history.
McAleny had picked up an ankle ligament injury in only the second league game of the season at Northampton Town.
However, he was finally fit enough to start against the league leaders.
Despite his full comeback the Shrews became the first side to stop Rosler’s side from scoring in the leaguen.
Jordy Hiwula had scored a late leveller at Scunthorpe United in midweek but he had to settle for a spot on the bench with McAleny partnering eight-goal forward Devante Cole in Town’s 3-5-2 formation.
Rosler made a further three changes to the side that drew 1-1 at Glanford Park.
Bolger was suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season at the Iron.
That absence saw Baily Cargill coming in on the left-hand side of the back three.
Aiden O’Neill and Markus Schwabl were picked to join Dempsey in the midfield three due to their physicality with George Glendon left out of the squad altogether and Grant moving to the bench.
It was all Shrewsbury in the opening exchanges but Fleetwood managed to limit the hosts to a lot of possession as they blunted an attack that fired four past Bristol Rovers in midweek.
In fact the only time Town’s defence were troubled was mainly down to the windy conditions rather than the Shrews attack.
Pond’s headed clearance swirled its way to Alex Rodman on the edge of the box though his chip flew over the bar.
McAleny was influential in the forward line and at the centre of Town’s attacking play, though the ball just would not fall for him and Fleetwood as they failed to create a chance in the first 45 minutes.
That would not have troubled Town boss Rosler, however, as his side stuck to their game plan and managed to take it into half-time with the game goalless
That was despite former Fleetwood man Junior Brown doing his best to break the deadlock in the dying embers of the half as he popped up with a fierce strike from distance that stung Alex Cairns’ palms.
It was a brighter start by both teams at the start of the second half as Dempsey had Fleetwood’s first shot.
Good link-up between McAleny and O’Neill saw him find space in the box but he blasted the ball wide.
Carlton Morris fired straight at Cairns minutes later as the game descended into a scrappy affair with the wind causing havoc.
Rosler was an animated figure on the touchline after a number of dubious decisions from referee Nick Kinsley who had controversially booked Cargill for time wasting as he waited to take a throw in.
One incident just 55 minutes in summed up Fleetwood’s day in the Shrews’ third,
McAleny, back hungry and raring to go, looked to be in but instead of roaring through on goal he stood on the ball and the chance was lost.
Shrewsbury were the better side but Fleetwood’s defence was stubborn before a rare error from goalkeeper Alex Cairns nearly led to the breakthrough.
Cairns dropped the ball in the box but Town survived after a mad scramble which saw Rodman’s strike blocked by Coyle and the follow up batted away by the keeper.
That raised the volume levels and Rosler responded by making a double substitution as McAleny and O’Neill made way for Grant and Hiwula, while Brown also limped off with what looked to be a nasty knee injury.
Ash Hunter was sent on in place of Schwabl as Rosler switched to a 3-4-3 formation but Fleetwood could not continue their late scoring streak despite the introduction of his fresh legs.
Then, following a strong defensive display, Town’s weakness at set-pieces was their downfall again as Nsiala popped up to give the home side three points and the latest of victories.
Fleetwood: Cairns, Eastham, Pond, Cargill, Coyle, Dempsey, Schwabl (Hunter, 72), O’Neill (Grant, 62), Bell, Cole, McAleny (Hiwula, 62). Subs: Neal, Burns, Rodgers, Sowerby.
Shrewsbury: Henderson, Godfrey, Sadler, Whalley, Ogogo, Morris (John-Lewis, 85), Brown (Beckles, 76), Bolton (Payne, 72), Nolan, Nsiala, Rodman. Subs: MacGillivray, Dodds, Gnahoua, Morris.
Referee: Nicholas Kinsley.