Fleetwood Town vs Shrewsbury Town, SkyBet League One, 22/11/16, Highbury Stadium
So, it turns out that Darren Deadman got it wrong, is anyone surprised? No, I didn’t think so. For anyone wondering what Deadman got wrong this time, it turns out that Jim O’Brien’s red card on Saturday was the wrong decision, and it was rightly rescinded, although that isn’t much use now, as we could have done with him on the pitch for the Sheffield United game instead of in the changing rooms. However Abu Ogogo’s red card was upheld, and he’ll now be serving a suspension.
After finishing work at 4.30pm, I headed home to get changed and to get the car. Once I had changed, I jumped into my car, and began the journey from Chorley to Fleetwood, my Sat-Nav told me that it would take around 45 minutes to get to Fleetwood, however traffic had other ideas, and it was around 19.10pm, when I parked up on a side-street near to the ground. I soon found my way around to the away turnstiles, where I was expecting to meet my parents, however they were in a chip shop in town, and I ended up waiting around for them for a few minutes. Soon enough my mum arrived, my dad had left his hat in the chip shop and had had to go back to retrieve it. Finally my dad arrived, with his hat, and we made our way around to the away turnstiles. Just like at Bramall Lane, the turnstiles were the barcode scanner type, and we soon found ourselves in Highbury Stadium, I was glad to see that the away terrace had a roof on it, as it was beginning to rain. Upon entering the ground we were stopped by a programme seller, and I was expecting to pay around £3 for the programme, so when she said the price was £1, I had to ask her to repeat herself, and she again confirmed that the programmes would be £1 each, making them the cheapest programmes I’ve ever bought, not that I bought these as my mum beat me to it. Having left home as quickly as I had, I hadn’t had anything for dinner, so I headed around to the refreshment hut under the main stand, and paid £5.50 for a Meat & Potato pie and a bottle of Diet Coke.
Fleetwood’s Highbury Stadium opened back in 1939, at the culmination of the most successful three-year period in the club’s history, as they celebrated a hat-trick of Lancashire Combination Cup wins. Before the Highbury Stadium was opened, the club had played on a ground next to the North Euston Hotel. Highbury Stadium is situated on the south-west corner of the Memorial Park, just behind Highbury Avenue which is where the ground gets its name. In recent years the ground has seen a number of improvements to bring it up to the standard it is at now, one interesting thing to note about these improvements is that the new Highbury Stand has been built in front of the old stand, which still stands behind this new stand. Away fans are housed in the Percy Ronson Terrace, which runs for around 2/3rds of the width of the pitch, as I have already mentioned this stand is covered, which was appreciated tonight, as it was raining. In the corner between the Percy Ronson and the Highbury Stand is an impressive looking video screen, on which Fleetwood displayed the team line-ups, and any goal replays. To the right of the Percy Ronson Terrace, is the newest stand in the ground, the Parkside Stand, which was opened in March 2011, this stand is a 2,000 capacity, and houses the clubs’ offices, hospitality suites and changing rooms. Behind the other goal is the Memorial Stand, which is another covered terrace, however this one extends the entire width of the pitch, and is named in memory of the service and trawlermen that have lost their lives working from the port of Fleetwood, this stand can hold 1,500 supporters, and looked to be the most popular stand in the ground. Along the other touchline is the Highbury Stand, which is only six rows high, and holds around 550 supporters, this stand only runs for half the length of the pitch, as between the Highbury Stand and the Percy Ronson stand is a clubhouse. All in all the Highbury Stadium is an impressive ground, especially considering that only a few years ago the only stand at the ground was the old Main Stand, which is now hidden behind the Highbury Stand.
The current Fleetwood Town were formed in 1997, however as I have mentioned already, the club have played at Highbury Stadium since 1939, and the club’s history dates back to 1908. The original Fleetwood FC were champions of the Lancashire Combination in 1923-24, and registered a hat-trick of Lancashire Combination Cup wins in 1932, 1933 and 1934. After spending 60 years in the Lancashire Combination, the club became founder members of the Northern Premier League in 1968, and in their first season they finished 10th in the league. However the club weren’t to beat this league finish until the 2010 to 2011 season, and due to financial difficulties the Fleetwood FC folded in 1976. The club was re-established as Fleetwood Town in 1977, and were placed in Division One of the Cheshire League, until they moved in 1982 to the NWCFL Division Two in its inaugural year, and in 1984 they were promoted to the NWCFL Division One. The club were to reach the FA Vase final in 1985, which they lost to Halesowen Town 3-1, and in 1987 the club were placed in Division One of the Northern Premier League, and they were inaugural Division One Champions in 1988. In the 1990 to 1991 season the club finished 4th in the NPL Premier Division, however in 1996 this second club had folded. Again the club re-formed, this time in 1997 as Fleetwood Wanderers and they joined the NWCFL Division One. Sponsorship saw the club change name to Fleetwood Freeport almost immediately. The club were promoted to the NWCFL Premier Division in 1999, and reverted to the name Fleetwood Town in 2002. In around 2003, current chairman Andy Pilley took over as chairman. Successive promotions as NWCFL Champions in 2005, and NPL First Division runners up in 2006 saw the club reach the NPL Premier Division. The 2007 to 2008 season bought more silverware for the club, and they won the NPL gaining them promotion to the Conference North. In the 2008 to 2009 season, the club began poorly, and Tony Greenwood left the club as they were bottom of the league. Micky Mellon then took the manager’s seat, and in the 2009 to 2010 season, the club successfully navigated the play-offs, and after beating Alfreton Town 2-1 in the play-off final, the club were promoted to the Conference. Fleetwood were promoted to the Football League in the 2011 to 2012 season, with a certain Jamie Vardy playing for them, as they went on a 29 game unbeaten run and were declared champions with two games remaining. On the 1st of December 2012, Micky Mellon was sacked following a 3-2 defeat to Aldershot in the FA Cup, and on the 6th of December 2012, Graham Alexander took the management role, with the club finishing 13th in the league. Further success in the play-offs was to arrive in the 2013 to 2014 season, as the club beat Burton Albion 1-0 in the final, with current Shrewsbury player Antoni Sarcevic netting a free-kick which saw Fleetwood promoted to League One for the first time. The club have remained in League One ever since, and have now got Uwe Rosler in charge, recently they have won their last four games, and sit in 10th in the league.
Given that my last blog was about Shrewsbury’s trip to Sheffield United, I won’t repeat what I’ve already said about the club’s history. As I also mentioned our 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United saw us remain in 23rd place, with only Chesterfield below us in the league.
With Abu Ogogo now serving a suspension for his red card against Sheffield United, Ian Black came into the side, Olly Lancashire also dropped to the bench with Mat Sadler coming in to replace him in the side. I had hoped that Shrewsbury would begin against Fleetwood, how we had left off against Sheffield United, and for the opening stages of the game we played well, with a couple of flowing attacks, but unfortunately the Fleetwood keeper was in good form.
The deadlock was to be broken before half time, however it was to be Fleetwood who scored first. After a break down the left wing, the ball was whipped in by Devante Cole (Andy Cole’s son), and his low, driving cross, was fired home by Conor McLaughlin to give Fleetwood the lead in the 38th minute. Following this goal the tannoy fired into life, playing this: Seriously.
Half Time: Fleetwood Town 1-0 Shrewsbury Town (McLaughlin 38)
At half time we decided to remain where we were stood, and spent the break discussing what changes Paul Hurst would make for the second half, as it was clear we were lacking something to get us started. However there were to be no changes at the break, and soon enough both sides re-emerged for the second half.
It didn’t take long for Fleetwood to score again, as in the 52nd minute McLaughlin beat Junior Brown to the all, and he put the ball into the box, Halstead hesitated, with David Ball firing the ball at goal, Mat Sadler was on hand to clear the initial shot, however the ball was put back in again, and David Ball made no mistake with his second chance.
Salop’s good work and effort from the first half had all but disappeared, and time after time the Salop players found themselves chasing shadows, and any attacks we launched were easily broken down, or just wasted with sloppy passing. A number of the Salop fans around me, and myself, began to get frustrated with the effort of some of the players, and a general consensus that reinforcements are desperately needed was soon agreed on.
Shrewsbury made a change in the 68th minute, with Ian Black leaving the field to be replaced by George Waring. Black had gone down injured, and with Town on the attack, it would have made more sense for him to leave the field before going down, however he went down injured on the pitch, and the referee halted the game, killing off any momentum we had.
Fleetwood made a change of their own in the 71st minute with Devante Cole being replaced by Ashley Hunter. Just a minute later Fleetwood put themselves further into the lead, as David Ball found himself in acres of space on the edge of the area, and with all of the time in the world, he curled a fantastic shot past Mark Halstead.
The second Fleetwood chance took place in the 79th minute, with Victor Nirennold replacing George Glendon. In the 84th minute Fleetwood made their final change with Kyle Dempsey being replaced by Jack Sowerby.
Salop made their second change in the 85th minute, with former Fleetwood man, Antoni Sarcevic coming on to replace Jim O’Brien.
Shrewsbury were beginning to look tired and frankly uninterested as the game ticked on, and Fleetwood had plenty of chances to increase the score, however for some reason they were unable to beat our lacklustre defence, and in all fairness the game should have probably finished with Fleetwood winning by 5 or 6 goals.
The Fourth Official then indicated that there would be a minimum of five minutes added on, which was a bit annoying as by this point I just wanted to go home and forget about this game of football.
Final Score: Fleetwood Town 3-0 Shrewsbury Town (McLaughlin 38, Ball 52, 72)
Defeat for Shrewsbury, and a win for Chesterfield sees us now drop to 24th in the league. A win for Fleetwood has seen them climb to 8th in the league, with Fleetwood looking in good form at the moment.
I’ve honestly no idea how Paul Hurst is going to turn this around, as to be honest the players seem uninterested, which is something that you never want in professional footballers, hopefully some of these players will leave during January as at the moment they are a waste of wages, although I doubt there will be many teams queuing up to sign some of these players from us. I have no doubts that Paul Hurst will be the man to turn this around, but he’s got a hell of a lot of work ahead of him. It’d be nice to see us dip in to Non-League for signings, as there are a number of players that I have seen this season, who would do a good job for us at the moment.
A special mention must go to the Shrewsbury fans who travelled to Fleetwood for this game, I must have had one of the easiest journeys to the game, as I live in Chorley which is about 45 minutes away. As a member of the Shrewsbury Town Facebook group I do see a lot of posts from people talking about the miles they cover supporting the Shrews, with one guy stating that he was travelling from Cardiff (I believe, it was South Wales at least) to Fleetwood just for this match, and I feel that at this moment in time our players just aren’t rewarding the fans in any shape or form. I personally didn’t hang around at the end of the match, and by the sounds of it neither did the majority of the Salop players, with only Ivan Toney being reported to have applauded the Shrewsbury fans. Hopefully the results will improve, and those that travel from around the country to support the Shrews will be rewarded for their dedication.
Finally another special mention must go to the Fleetwood stewards. I’ve never met friendlier stewards, I must have been greeted by every single one of them on the way into the ground, and every single one of them was a credit to their club. Especially the steward who stood at the front of the Shrewsbury fans, and answered every question and query with a polite answer and a smile, he even showed patience with our own legend Bizzy, something that other stewards haven’t done, Bizzy is a passionate supporter (that’s putting it lightly) who only wants to cheer on the Shrewsbury and have a good time, however this doesn’t go down well with stewards at other clubs, but it was amazing to see a steward understand the passion that Bizzy has. If anyone connected to the Fleetwood stewards is reading this, then please pass on my thanks to the stewards, as they were an absolute credit to the club, and I just wish that there were more stewards like these.
Movember Total: £6 (£1.50 from today’s game)
Hat-tricks seen so far: 0