Town: Chris Weale, Tamika Mkandawire (c), Connor Goldson, Joe Jacobson (McAllister, 26), Darren Jones, Adam Reach, Paul Parry, Nicky Wroe, Luke Summerfield, Liam McAlinden (Bradshaw, 80), Gozie Ugwu
Subs not used: Joe Anyon, Dave Winfield, Alex McQuade, John Marsden
Oldham Athletic: Mark Oxley, Jonathan Grounds, James Tarkowski, Korey Smith (c), Charlie McDonald, David Mellor, Anton Rodgers (Wesolowski, 60), Matteo Lanzoni, James Dayton (Schmeltz, 66), Michael Petrasso (Clarke-Harris, 33), Danny Philliskirk
Subs not used: Paul Rachubka, Adam Rooney, Carl Winchester, Glenn Belezik
Referee: James Adcock
Assistants: Robert Jones & John Law
Fourth Official: Edward Smart
Attendance: 4,563 (286 from Oldham)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Gozie Ugwu’s first goal for Shrewsbury Town wasn’t enough to prevent a second home defeat of the season for Graham Turner’s men. Ugwu struck after 16 minutes but Charlie McDonald levelled matters for Oldham just before half-time. And 15 minutes from the end Danny Philliskirk struck the winner for Lee Johnson’s side as they recorded a third successive win on their travels in the space of just seven days.
There were two changes to the Town team from the one that gained a hard fought three points at the weekend against Notts County. Nicky Wroe came in for long term injury victim Aaron Wildig and Connor Goldson stepped up in place of Ryan Woods who has picked up a bug.
Town were first to show when Liam McAlinden shot for goal but it lacked any kind of power, even though it forced Mark Oxley to go full stretch to get the ball under his control.
And perhaps Shrewsbury’s best opportunity came after 13 minutes when Jonathan Grounds appeared to handle but the referee allowed play to continue with McAlinden in possession and lots of space. The low delivery from the striker looked decent enough but there was no-one close enough to bag themselves a simple finish and the ball bounced harmlessly out of play.
Latics had won 4-1 here in the JPT back in September but they found themselves trailing when Ugwu capitalised on a mix up at the heart of the Athletic defence. James Tarkowski’s defending was poor in the build up and it allowed Ugwu time to pick his spot although his effort did seem to take a sizeable deflection off a defender’s boot as it looped up and over a helpless Oxley. Salop were reasonable value for that lead too with Oldham spending plenty of time in their defensive third, but they were passing the ball well when they did have possession of the football.
Town were dealt a blow midway through the half when Joe Jacobson had to be replaced by Dave McAllister. The switch saw Paul Parry slot in at left-back with McAllister hugging the near touchline.
As Jacobson was limping around the perimeter on his way to the changing rooms, Adam Reach conceded possession cheaply and Latics almost made Saturday’s matchwinner pay for his error. It took a really brave save from Chris Weale at the feet of Philliskirk to preserve Town’s advantage.
Oldham made a tactical change on 33 minutes with Town having enjoyed 70% possession in the opening half hour. Jonson Clarke-Harris replaced Michael Petrasso and the switch almost paid immediate dividends. A bout of pinball in the Town box saw two fantastic chances for the visitors with one blocked by Tamika Mkandawire on the line, and a follow up effort finding the woodwork as Shrewsbury enjoyed a large slice of good fortune. The substitution had certainly stirred the Boundary Park side into life as they looked more threatening in five minutes than they had done in the previous 35.
And a minute from the interval they equalised when McDonald latched on to a through ball from Anton Rodgers which carved the heart of the Town defence wide open, to calmly slot beyond Weale and into the bottom corner. It was a choker for Shrewsbury who had been dominant for the lion’s share of the encounter yet found themselves going down the tunnel on level terms.
Half Time: Town 1 Oldham Athletic 1
There was a really lively start to the second half with Ugwu doing well to set up a half chance for McAlinden but Oldham defended the situation well and cleared the danger. And on 54 minutes Ugwu had a good sight of goal himself after a wonderfully probing centre from Reach, but his header lacked any conviction and failed to work the goalkeeper. Thirty seconds later Parry was on the move down the left and from his low cross, McAllister was thwarted by an excellent block as he shaped to shoot. McAllister then became the recipient of the game’s first card when he took one for the team in halting Tarkowski’s marauding run from deep just past the hour.
The match was very finely balanced although Town were still marginally the more inventive of the two teams, and it would have taken a brave man to predict the outcome with 20 minutes left. McAllister might have put Shrewsbury back in front with a 25 yard strike but it arrowed a yard or so wide of the left hand post.
But it was the away side who went in front with 15 minutes to go. McDonald pulled the ball back and there was Philliskirk lurking on the edge of the box to lash the ball into the corner of the net with a hefty swing of his left boot. Weale had no chance and Town were now staring down the barrels of a second home league defeat of the season.
McAlinden was withdrawn for Tom Bradshaw 10 minutes from time and the young Welshman almost scored with his first touch. It took a fingertip save from Oxley to push Bradshaw’s cross shot just past the post and the keeper then held Goldson’s header as Town rallied looking for a way back into the contest.
Clarke-Harris nearly knocked Weale off his feet with a thunderbolt and most of the East Stand thought they’d seen an equaliser from their side when McAllister’s sweet volley appeared to have found the corner with two minutes left. But the net had rippled via one of the net supports behind the goal and McAllister’s head in hands reaction confirmed the worst.
Perhaps the turning point of the match was Johnson’s decision to change his side early on. He had recognised Town’s domination and ultimately the decision was vindicated with a much improved performance once Clarke-Harris had entered the play. Town had played well but they fell just short against an in-form Oldham side.
Full Time: Town 1 Oldham Athletic 2