Town: Chris Weale, Cameron Gayle, Joe Jacobson (c), Connor Goldson, Yado Mambo, Akwasi Asante (Parry, 88), Luke Summerfield, Steve McGinn, Aaron Wildig (Woods, 90), Jon Taylor, Tom Bradshaw
Subs: Joe Anyon, Matt Richards, Paul Parry, James Hurst, Ryan Woods, Dave McAllister, Rob Purdie
Oldham Athletic: AlexCisak, Jonathan Grounds (Simpson, 25), Jean Yves M’Voto, Lee Croft, Cristian Montano, Cliff Byrne (c), Jose Baxter, Kirk Millar, Bobby Reid (Gosset, 72), Carl Winchester (Smith, 64), Joe Cooper
Subs: Connor Brown, Robbie Simpson, Dean Bouzanis, Korey Smith, Connor Hughes, Glen Belezika, Danny Gosset
Referee: E. Iderton
Assistants: N. Hobbis & A. Fox
Fourth Official: P. Hobday
Attendance: 5,332 (347 from Oldham)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Luke Summerfield traded places with Dave McAllister in Town’s only change to the side which earned a point down at Colchester at the weekend. McAllister dropped to the bench with no other changes to Graham Turner’s 18 man selection.
Oldham – wearing their change colours of all white – got this rearranged game under way and were attacking the Salop Leisure Stand end of the stadium.
Four weeks ago this fixture was called off due to heavy snow and at the time was billed as a six-pointer with both teams having relegation concerns. On Saturday though, those fears were allayed completely with Town’s point gained in Essex, and a last minute winner for Latics against Crawley gave them the victory that was needed to secure their own place in League One next term.
The recalled Summerfield had the first attempt on goal when he took a free-kick awarded for a foul on Tom Bradshaw. But although the shot was on target it never looked likely to trouble Alex Cisak in the Oldham goal.
The next Salop attack on 11 minutes ought to have given them the lead. Bradshaw won a block tackle midway inside the Oldham half and the ball fell perfectly for strike partner Akwasi Asante. The Birmingham loanee showed good pace to advance into the penalty area and as Cisak came out to narrow the angle Asante prodded the ball past him but also past the right hand upright. It was a glorious opportunity for the home side and it should have produced a first goal in Town colours for Asante.
Shrewsbury were almost punished a couple of minutes later when Northern Ireland under-21 Kirk Millar brought a fine save out of Chris Weale. Then Jose Baxter forced Weale to go full stretch to push his well guided effort past the post. Former Everton youngster Baxter might have been prolific for Oldham this season, but then he won’t have come across too many goalkeepers better than Weale over the course of the campaign.
Both teams had had reasonable chances to go ahead - with Asante’s easily the best of them - but with 20 minutes on the clock the score was still goalless.
Baxter struck a powerful free-kick which again worked Weale between the posts, and then the Town keeper had to be alert to dive bravely at the feet of Millar when another opening was created by the Lancashire side. Oldham by this stage had been forced into a change with Jonathan Grounds withdrawn for Robbie Simpson.
Shrews were working the ball into decent areas but all too often the move would break down before any questions could be asked of the visitor’s goalkeeper. When they did test him five minutes before the break, it came from an unlikely source. The crowd urged Joe Jacobson to have a shot and he duly obliged from 25 yards but although the shot had pace and direction it was too central to goal and was an easy save for Cisak.
Town’s coaching staff were furious when Jacobson was fouled a minute later – a split second after he’d managed to prod the ball on for Bradshaw, who was well poised to take a shot having controlled the ball on his chest. But the referee brought play back much to the bemusement of everyone here, although Jon Taylor brought the best out of Cisak from the resulting free-kick.
Baxter headed the last chance of the half wide in the 60 seconds of added on time as the first half ended goalless.
Half Time: Town 0 Oldham Athletic 0
Four minutes after the restart Town went in front with a peach of a goal from skipper Jacobson – his first of the season, and against his former club. Bradshaw was upended on the edge of the box and from the free kick, Jacobson took the shortest of run-ups before exquisitely curling the ball over the Latics wall and into the corner of Cisak’s net.
Bradshaw turned a Taylor cross into the net on 55 minutes as Town continued to set the pace but on this occasion the winger was flagged offside just as he got in the position to centre for the unmarked Bradshaw.
It was a much quicker tempo from Town who had laboured throughout most of the opening 45. Their passing was better, their movement was better and they kept the ball better. All those things added together made Oldham far less of a threat than they had been for much of the first period, and the goal had certainly woken up Blocks 18 & 19 in the West Stand.
After 65 minutes Salop had a magnificent chance to double their advantage when Steve McGinn’s pass was weighted perfectly to set Taylor free. Taylor pushed the ball past the on-rushing Cisak but with too much pace and as a result, the angle became too tight. The winger did shoot goalwards but the ball clattered against the near post and the rebound took Aaron Wildig by surprise so there was no benefit from the follow up. Town had spurned two one-on-one opportunities otherwise this game would have been over with 20 minutes left to play.
Shrewsbury were still well on top and if only a striker had gambled on Taylor’s terrific knock across the 6 yard box, Oldham’s task would have been doubly difficult. Lee Johnson had deployed all of his substitutes in an attempt to turn the tables but Connor Goldson would go close for Shrews again from a Jacobson corner sustaining a bang to the napper for his troubles.
Town had broken up so many of Oldham’s forward movements - a stark contrast to the first half where the Latics had enjoyed more than an equal share of the football. They’d been restricted to very few chances since the turnaround and Shrewsbury were full value for their lead.
Taylor and Asante fashioned an opening for Taylor with some neat interchange across the 18 yard line but the number 11 miscued his effort and it bobbled a yard wide. A minute later Summerfield blasted one over the top with the game well into its last 10 minutes as Town continued to dominate.
There was a scare for Salop on 88 minutes when a quick free kick almost caught out the home defence but they got plenty of players back and there were a couple of fantastic blocks to deny Oldham the space to launch any shots on goal.
Incredibly, 6 minutes of additional time were indicated by the 4th official which brought audible gasps from the home supporters and muted cheers from the 350 or so Latics fans. Ryan Woods came on for a cameo run out in place of Wildig, giving the youngster his league debut for the club and it was a winning one as Town saw the game out to record a 12th League win of the season.
Full Time: Town 1 Oldham Athletic 0