Town: Chris Weale, Connor Goldson, Joe Jacobson, Tamika Mkandawire (c), Dave Winfield, Sidney Schmeltz (Parry,81), Ryan Woods, Dave McAllister, Asa Hall (Marsden, 66), Jon Taylor, Tom Eaves (Bradshaw, 80)
Subs not used: Joe Anyon, Jermaine Grandison, Alex McQuade, Darren Jones
Rotherham United: Adam Collin, Joe Skarz, Lee Frecklington, Alex Revell (Vuckic, 82), Mark Bradley, Rob Milson, Ben Pringle (Turgott, 88), Kieran Agard, Miles Addison, James Tavernier, Tom Hitchcock (Thomas, 65)
Subs not used: Scott Shearer, Richard Brindley, Michael O’Connor, Danny Rowe
Referee: J Simpson
Assistants: N. Murphy & S. Ross
Fourth Official: D. Gratton
Attendance: 5,116 (650 from Rotherham)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Three goals in ten devastating first half minutes condemned Shrewsbury Town to a sixth consecutive home defeat this afternoon.
Tom Hitchcock, Ben Pringle and James Tavernier were all clinical in front of goal for promotion chasers Rotherham who won at a canter.
The first half was so one-sided that it could easily have been five at the break with Town distinctly second best in another poor home performance.
Town made just one change to the side which lost narrowly at MK Dons last week for the clash with the New York Stadium men. The enforced switch saw Asa Hall deputise in midfield for Aaron Wildig who remains sidelined with a quad injury.
The rains cascaded down on the Meadow surface as the game got underway with The Millers opting to play in their all-grey kit instead of their usual red and white.
Within nine minutes the away side had their lead. Ex-Town loanee Tavernier skipped to the by-line and his perfect cross was bulleted home by Hitchcock in only his second appearance for the South Yorkshire club. Chris Weale got a firm hand on the ball but could only help it onto the underside of the bar before it rippled the net.
Hitchcock had already struck against Shrews this season with Crewe’s goal in the recent 1-1 draw but the lead was almost immediately wiped out. Tom Eaves found a bit of room in the box and despite the narrow angle, his shot fizzed against the near post with Adam Collin beaten in the visitors goal.
The opening quarter hour was an end to end affair with Rotherham looking dangerous and they almost added to Town’s woes when Pringle’s corner was helped towards goal by Miles Addison. It took a wonder save from Weale to deny the centre-back a second for Steve Evans’ side.
As United continued to press, Weale denied Tavernier with another decent stop but before the ball had gone dead, Pringle popped up at the edge of the penalty area to lash his shot into the top corner to send the away end into raptures, and leave Salop staring down the barrels of a sixth straight home loss. It was to get even worse.
Tavernier lifted the ball over Weale two minutes later as it became all too easy for the away side and they held a three goal advantage before 20 minutes were on the clock. Shrewsbury’s task looked huge with confidence already shorn as home goals – and wins – have become a rare occurrence in SY2.
Town looked bereft of ideas – simply stunned by a three goal salvo in ten minutes which had effectively ended the contest. Mercifully, Rotherham appeared more than content to get in at the break with a sizeable advantage, and with Shrews failing to get too close too many times to the edge of the danger zone, there looked little danger to that chain of thought. Indeed, had Pringle’s stoppage time free-kick not rattled the bar it would have brought further embarrassment.
When the half-time whistle did sound seconds later, the boo’s told their own story. Despite the home side’s endeavours – and it’s not work-rate that’s at question – they had been soundly outplayed in a really poor opening 45 and the fans weren’t shy in voicing their concerns.
Half Time: Town 0 Rotherham United 3
Dave McAllister saw a shot deflected wide with the first half-chance of the second period and Shrewsbury forced a couple of early corners as they looked for a glimmer of hope from somewhere.
But Rotherham simply soaked up the pressure and the only thing of any note was a couple of yellows after a bout of handbags for skipper Tamika Mkandawire and Hitchcock, who was immediately replaced.
Graham Turner gave John Marsden the best part of 25 minutes with Hall the man sacrificed but Town had only pride left to play for. Goldson went into the book for a mistimed tackle on the impressive Pringle and Shrews made a twin substitution with 10 minutes left. Eaves was replaced by Tom Bradshaw and Sidney Schmeltz came off for Paul Parry. Both players would have been disappointed with their contribution but they weren’t alone – it was just one of those days where very little went right.
That much became evident when Dave Winfield sold Weale horribly short with a back-pass and once Lee Frecklington had danced around the stranded keeper it looked like number four to rub salt into an already gaping wound. For once though, the Millers finishing deserted them and Frecklington was left red faced as his shot didn’t even carry the weight to reach the goalline.
The home fans voiced their displeasure but in fairness to them, they hadn’t turned on their side despite watching another blank from their team. They’ve waited 8 hours and 44 minutes for a Town goal at the Meadow – five minutes of added on time merely prolonged the agony.
Full Time: Town 0 Rotherham United 3