Town: Chris Weale, Connor Goldson, Joe Jacobson, Darren Jones, Tamira Mkandawire (c), Jon Taylor, Luke Summerfield, Paul Parry (Woods, 90), Aaron Wildig, Akwasi Asante (Bradshaw, 75), Adam Reach
Substitutes: Joe Anyon, Kaiman Anderson, Graham Burke, Dave McAllister, Alex McQuade
Swindon Town: Wes Foderingham, Nathan Thompson, Nathan Byrne, Massimo Luongo, Grant Hall, Ryan Harley, Andy Williams (Ranger, 72), Alex Pritchard, Yaser Kasim (Thompson, 63), Miles Storey (Smith, 71), Darren Ward (c)
Substitutes: Jay McEveley, Jack Bartham, Tyrrell Belford, Troy Archibald-Henville
Referee: A. Woolmer
Assistants: M. Griffiths & P. Hobday
Fourth Official: J. Law
Attendance: 4,943 (545 from Swindon)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
A goal in each half helped Shrewsbury to record their first win of the season at home to Swindon Town this afternoon. Debutant Adam Reach – who had barely been in Shropshire for 48 hours after joining on a month’s loan from Middlesbrough – grabbed the opener inside ten minutes, and substitute Tom Bradshaw sealed the victory when he pounced on a defensive error late on.
Graham Turner was vindicated by handing a first start to Reach, and up front he recalled Akwasi Asante who had recovered from injury. Bradshaw and Graham Burke were both on the bench to give Turner better options than those afforded to him at Orient a week ago, when he could only name five substitutes from the seven allotted.
Swindon got the game under way in squally conditions and attacked the Salop Leisure Stand end of the stadium for the opening 45.
After a cagey opening Town went ahead on nine minutes with Reach getting his Shrewsbury career off to an absolute flyer. He intercepted Darren Ward’s intended pass and set off unopposed toward goal. As Wes Foderingham advanced off his line to try and make the target a bit smaller, Reach coolly stroked the ball beyond him and into the corner with one swipe of his left foot to score Town’s first league goal of the campaign.
It was nearly two in two minutes for the youngster when he sent a looping header over Foderingham, but with the goal unguarded the ball fell agonisingly wide. The inevitable chants of “sign him up” were soon enough reverberating around three sides of the ground.
Reach was clearly enjoying himself, having most likely gone to sleep last night dreaming of this kind of start. The goal aside, he looked confident, with an assured touch and no shortage of ability with the odd mazy dribble thrown in for good measure. Certainly, much of what was good about Salop was coming via their most recent acquisition and it was Reach who was lending the bulk of the support to the lone striker.
The referee had a huge call to make after 25 minutes when Asante chased down a pass that Foderingham was always going to reach first. But as the burly striker slid in, the Swindon keeper appeared to be caught by the Town man and the visiting fans howled for a card. After consulting the assistant on the near side, the ref kept both yellow and red neatly tucked away and Shrews breathed easily. In fairness to Asante, he was entitled to go for the ball and there was no malice in his challenge with perhaps the zip on the surface making things look a little worse than they actually were.
Town were playing some entertaining football with Swindon posing little attacking threat and Joe Jacobson – with a rasping volley – and Jon Taylor, both sent decent efforts towards Foderingham’s goal as the Wiltshire side continued to play second fiddle.
Reach just failed to reach – no pun intended – a wickedly inviting Paul Parry cross as the hosts kept their foot on the gas, and although nothing came of it in terms of an end product, there was a wonderful exchange of passes involving half a dozen players who all stroked the ball around with single touches just past the half hour.
It was smashing stuff and very pleasing on the eye. All over the park Shrewsbury were on top and they looked full of ideas as an attacking force with their passing crisp and, more often than not, precise. The other STFC just hadn’t been at the races in the first half yet they were still very much in the game at the break with the margin so slender.
HT: Town 1 Swindon 0
Shrewsbury were playing into the wind in the second half and Swindon finally managed to wake from their slumber by winning a couple of early corners. Town defended them routinely enough and Alex Pritchard received the day’s first caution for a foul on Reach plum on the halfway line. Within half a minute Massimo Luongo was the recipient of the second for a less obvious foul a bit higher up the field before a third Swindon corner was again dealt with comfortably by the home side.
Ryan Harley forced Chris Weale into his first save after 57 minutes with a dipping shot from outside the box which the Town keeper beat away and there were signs of the visitors competing for the first time since the game got underway. Miles Storey headed another Pritchard corner wide as the wind speeds picked up considerably around the stadium.
Reach tested Foderingham at his near post with the Robins’ goalkeeper doing well to parry the ball down, and Asante drew warm applause from the Town fans for his raw strength, which kept the home side in possession when the County Ground outfit looked favourites to win it back. Asante though, should have fed goalscorer Reach moments later but went alone and was frozen out. The pass was the better option even without the benefit of hindsight.
Although it was a much more even contest, Salop were playing easily their best football of the season and Foderingham had to make a superb reactionary stop to prevent Ward’s unintentional touch finding the corner 20 minutes from the end. And seconds later Asante ought to have made it two when he went one-on-one with Foderingham only to slide the ball a fraction wide. It was a glorious chance and would have been just rewards for a cracking display from the number 19 who went close again with a rising drive moments after a double substitution by Cooper. It was to be his last contribution before being replaced by Bradshaw and he deserved the ovation he received as he came to the touchline.
By this time, Reach had slightly blotted his copybook with a yellow card with the rain falling steadily onto an already greasy surface.
The points were secured five minutes from time when Bradshaw caught Nathan Byrne dallying in his own area, and a demi-second later the net was rippling for a second time as the Welshman got off the mark to ease the tension. It was no more than Turner’s men deserved as they had been the better side for the lion’s share of proceedings and it was pleasing to see Ryan Woods make a cameo appearance with the points assured.
FT: Town 2 Swindon 0