Town: Chris Weale, Jermaine Grandison, Cameron Gayle, Connor Goldson, Darren Jones, Jon Taylor, Matt Richards (c) Aaron Wildig (Hall, 76), Rob Purdie, Luke Rodgers (Bradshaw, 76), Marvin Morgan
Subs: Joe Anyon, Asa Hall, Tom Bradshaw, Joe Jacobson, Ryan Woods, Dominic Smith, Jack Gwilliams
Brentford: Richard Lee, Tony Craig, Harlee Dean, Jonathan Douglas (c), Clayton Donaldson, Marcelo Trotta (Forrester, 66), Shaleum Logan, Stuart Dallas (Forshaw, 66), Toumani Diagouraga, Jake Bidwell, Rob Kiernan (Hayes, 73)
Subs: Adam Forshaw, Sam Saunders, Antoine Gounet, Lee Hodson, Harry Forrester, Jake Reeves, Paul Hayes
Referee: D. Bond
Assistants: S. Garrett, W. Porter
Fourth Official: M. Perry
Attendance: 5,715 (522 from Brentford)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Graham Turner makes a change to the side which secured draws at Bury and at home to Notts County on Boxing Day. A bout of illness forces Paul Parry out of selection and the versatile Rob Purdie comes in to cover. Youngster Jack Gwilliams retains his place on the bench where he is joined by local youth defender Dominic Smith for the visit of high-flying Brentford.
The groundstaff deserved their ovation from all four sides of the stadium ahead of the match for producing an excellent playing surface after persistent rain throughout much of the Christmas week.
Brentford should have been ahead as early as the third minute. Clayton Donaldson slung in a low cross which Marcelo Trotta controlled well to create a clear opening but he dragged his effort fractionally wide of the far upright to let the home side off.
Shrewsbury fashioned a decent chance on 10 minutes when Marvin Morgan put Luke Rodgers away down the left channel. He held the ball up well to link with Purdie but just when it looked like there might be a shooting opportunity, Purdie elected to try and find a teammate and the opportunity was lost.
The floodlights on the near side had been out since kick-off and it was clearly evident with one half of the pitch bathed in light and the East side of the stadium getting darker with each passing minute.
With eyes focussed back on the action Rodgers fizzed an effort marginally wide from outside the box and there wasn’t a great deal between the sides in the opening minutes.
As Town continued to press, Aaron Wildig was a whisker away from putting Purdie clear with an intelligently weighted pass and from the corner Darren Jones saw his reactionary header land on top of the netting. Fellow defender Harlee Dean then strode confidently forward before belting in a 30 yarder which wasn’t that far away from breaking the deadlock as chances came at both ends.
Thankfully, someone had found sufficient coins to feed the meter and the lights on top of The Roland Wycherley Stand flickered back into life at twenty past three.
Purdie was having a smashing game with some clever runs from midfield and his ball to Jon Taylor saw the winger attempt to dance around Richard Lee in the Brentford goal, but the keeper came out on top, spreading himself well to narrow the angle.
Town were giving a really good account of themselves against the Londoners who were looking for a sixth successive league victory. But Shrews are unbeaten here in five and would be looking to get something ahead of two away trips to Coventry and Scunthorpe.
Morgan’s low cross into the danger zone five minutes before the interval saw Rodgers well placed central to goal, but the Brummie didn’t connect properly with the ball and it skidded away from him.
Town were to come close to going ahead moments later when Matt Richards floated in a free-kick midway into the Bees half and Morgan jumped well to flick on his header agonisingly wide with Lee well beaten.
Thirty seconds later that man Trotta wriggled free in the box and should have done better than fire wide of the near post with his left foot strike.
And then Connor Goldson came within a hair’s breadth of finding the top corner with as sweet an angled drive as you could wish to see. It was a brilliant effort from the defender and deserved better reward.
Half Time: Town 0 Brentford 0
Town had a chance at the start of the second half with Wildig once again showing fantastic awareness to pick out Rodgers who had this time made the perfectly timed run. Rodgers took a few strides forward but failed to keep the shot down and it sailed over the top.
But Brentford forced a few early corners which tested Town’s defence in front of their 500 travelling supporters.
Rodgers forced the first save of the game out of Lee as he put one into his midriff from 25 yards but moments later came a save from his opposite number that was right out of the top drawer. Trotta did superbly cutting in from the flank and arrowed a beauty towards the top of Chris Weale’s net, but the Town stopper went full length to fly across his 6 yard line and push the ball behind. It drew warm applause from everyone in the 5,715 crowd and rightly so as it was a stunning stop.
The chances were coming thick and fast now with even Cameron Gayle looking to get in on the action. A penetrating run from the full back took him towards the edge of the box although the final shot lacked any real conviction and Lee saved easily.
Uwe Rosler made a double change midway through the half with Trotta one of the men making way – the number 11 might well have helped himself to a hat-trick on another day.
Within a minute Morgan played a neat pass out wide to Goldson and his first time delivery was met by Taylor who was denied by a headed clearance on his own goalline by Dean.
Town had featured in only one goalless draw all season and that was back in early October – at Griffin Park against Brentford. Were we set for a repeat?
Taylor was featuring more and more down the right with his pace a constant threat to the visitors. Rosler made his final change with 17 minutes left with this game still very much in the balance and Town still making a decent fist of things and heading for a fourth draw in the last five outings.
Turner, to his credit, looked like he was after the additional two points and introduced Asa Hall and Tom Bradshaw for Wildig and Rodgers who had both put in a decent shift. Both had 14 minutes in which to make a memorable impact.
Nothing much happened though in the final quarter hour plus stoppages – though Adam Forshaw went close with the last kick - and Town can be well pleased with two battling performances in the past three days against sides challenging for honours.
Town’s squad might not be the biggest – three youth team players on the bench emphasises the point – but today’s performance was full of heart and character. Both are credentials that will be necessary to try and pull away from danger as 2012 draws to a close.
Full Time: Town 0 Brentford 0