Town: Joe Anyon, Ryan Woods, Connor Goldson, Tamika Mkandawire (c), Paul Parry (Grandison, 90), Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (Storey, 62), Jon Taylor, Asa Hall, David McAllister, Joseph Mills, Tom Eaves
Subs not used: Chris Weale, Dave Winfield, Bahrudin Atajic, Dom Smith, Joe Jacobson
Notts County: Bartosz Bialkowski, Alan Sheehan (c), Manny Smith, Jack Grealish, Callum McGregor (Kwesi Appiah, 46) , Hayden Mullins, Jimmy Spencer, Jamal Campbell-Rice, Kieron Freeman, Andre Boucaud (Showumni, 90), Gareth Roberts (Murray, 74)
Subs not used: Fabian Spiess, Mark Fotheringham, Haydn Hollis, Kyle Dixon
Referee: Sebastian Stockridge
Assistants: Christian Kavanagh & Ben Toner
Fourth Official: Andy Newbold
Attendance: 5,414 (455 from Shrewsbury)
Martin Wild reports from Meadow Lane
A fantastic Shrewsbury Town recovery saw a first victory since New Year’s Day. They looked out for the count with only 15 minutes played as The Magpies held a two goal lead. But a Jon Taylor double – either side of a red card for County’s Jimmy Spencer – set Town on their way to a third away victory as Dave McAllister pounced for a winner.
Michael Jackson made three changes to his side for the vital clash at Meadow Lane. Fraser Fyvie missed out with a cartilage problem sustained in training, and Jermaine Grandison dropped to the bench - with the gaffer changing his formation from the side which gained a point against Port Vale. Miles Storey was also relegated to the bench which meant a return for McAllister, Taylor and Tom Eaves with Jackson looking for a response from all of them after missing out last week.
Town got off to the worst possible start when a probing ball in from the right by Kieron Freeman appeared to allude everyone, but Jack Grealish must have got the slightest of touches on the ball as he took all the plaudits for the opening goal. To be fair, Shrews had laboured in the early exchanges and had been pegged back for the large part inside their own half so you couldn’t say the seventh minute goal was against the run of play.
Taylor skewed an effort well wide as Shrews looked for a quick reply on a lousy playing surface but County – with four defeats from their last five outings – looked in the mood to pile on the agony for Jackson.
And they made things a whole lot worse when Grealish tried to roll Tamika Mkandawire in the box on 12 minutes. The Town skipper felled the County front man and the decision was an easy one for the match official. Alan Sheehan smashed the resultant pen right down the middle and Town were facing a massive task already. For the second time in successive away games they were adrift by two with only 20 minutes on the watch. The problem here was that they had barely managed to break into the home side’s half of the field.
McAllister’s touch was too heavy when Nathaniel Mendez-Laing worked the ball into a good position and then Mendez-Laing was just too high with a shot from 20 yards which had plenty of power but just lacked direction. Shrewsbury were a good way short of their best, that much was true, but another goal for the hosts and you could turn the lights off. Town had only managed to score three goals on foreign soil once this season which had yielded three points at Stevenage. A repeat here might just kick start their season.
Sheehan received the game’s first card for a clumsy challenge on Mendez-Laing who thus far had been the only player in blue and amber looking like causing any problems for the Magpies.
But just past the half hour the Eaves-Taylor combo gave Salop a chance. Eaves managed to loop the ball over a defender’s head and there was Taylor timing his run to perfection to confidently volley beyond Bartosz Bialkowski to halve the deficit. It was Town’s first real soiree into the danger zone and they had suddenly started to make the home support feel somewhat twitchy. The goal had come out of the blue with the away side a long way from playing to their optimum levels. But Taylor’s strike had altered the course of the game and all of a sudden the Town were back in the mix.
Eaves put a header straight into the grateful arms of Bialkowski before volleying the ball into the River Trent, but at least we were showing some fighting qualities in this relegation battle.
Joseph Mills was booked for a foul on Jamal Campbell-Rice six minutes before the break – although the ref was 30 yards away from the incident and it looked a poor decision from our vantage point high up in the stands on the same touchline.
There was a major flashpoint on 43 minutes when the referee produced a straight red card for County’s Spencer for an incident involving Connor Goldson. One could only assume that the referee had seen an elbow in the aerial challenge but all of a sudden the dynamics of the game had changed dramatically with Town now holding a man advantage. The home supporters weren’t best pleased but the second half held some hope for the away side with the match a little more finely balanced at the halfway stage.
Half Time: Notts County 2 Town 1
In light of the dismissal, Shaun Derry sacrificed Callum McGregor at half-time with Kwesi Appiah taking his place.
Appiah was soon in the thick of things too - going down on the edge of the box under Goldson’s challenge. The County fans bayed for a red card especially as Goldson was involved in Spencer’s sending-off, but thankfully the colour was yellow. From the free-kick Grealish found the side netting and Town were out of trouble.
Storey replaced Mendez-Laing on 62 minutes and soon a quite brilliant pass from Paul Parry completely switched play and put Taylor in space down the left. Sadly, the winger’s cross didn’t find a Town shirt and Notts cleared.
It mattered not because Taylor soon grabbed a second with a fabulous equaliser. Taylor exchanged passes with Eaves and then hit the ball beyond Bialkowski to make it 2-2. Twenty minutes remained for Salop to pull off an unlikely turnaround and record a third away success.
90 seconds later Eaves headed back across goal from Parry’s probing cross but found the bar and as Town kept up the intensity of their play, McAllister pounced on some uncertainty in the home defence to put them in front. Their support on the far side went bonkers and the press box etiquette had long since gone out the window with whoop-whoops very much the order of the day!
Eaves flashed another half-chance over the top and you sensed another goal for Jacko’s boys would wrap things up with County tiring and on the back-foot.
Taylor had more time from an Asa Hall cross four minutes from time but didn’t realise it and sent a weak header comfortably into the arms of Bialkowski. And moments later Town sprung a great break with men over but Ryan Woods’ delivery wasn’t of the required standard and it stayed 2-3 with the clock approaching 90 minutes.
Four minutes were added and Eaves might have done better than find the legs of Bialkowski from the dead-ball line. The home fans finally found their voices having been silenced by that first Taylor goal an hour earlier. Ronan Murray dragged a shot a yard wide of Joe Anyon’s post but Shrews had controlled this second half and deserved the points for their efforts. What a turnaround from a game that looked dead and buried after quarter of an hour.
Full Time Notts County 2 Town 3