Town: Joe Anyon, Ryan Woods, Connor Goldson, Tamika Mkandawire (c), Paul Parry (Jacobson, 90), Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (Storey, 43), Jon Taylor, Asa Hall, David McAllister, Joseph Mills, Tom Eaves (Atajic, 81)
Subs not used: Chris Weale, Dave Winfield, Dom Smith, Jermaine Grandison
Coventry City: Joe Murphy, Andy Webster, Conor Thomas, John Fleck, Chuba Akpom (Baker, 73), Franck Moussa (Marshall, 61), Dan Seaborne (c), Jordan Willis, Callum Wilson, Jordan Clarke, Michael Petrasso
Subs not used: Lee Burge, Cyprus Christie, Blair Adams, Dylan McGeouch, Billy Daniels
Referee: D. Deadman
Assistants: A.Dale & A. Young
Fourth Official: M. Buonassisi
Attendance: 1,966 (391 from Shrewsbury)
Martin Wild reports from Sixfields
Shrewsbury and Coventry played out a goalless draw at a wet and miserable Sixfields Stadium. Joe Murphy was easily the busiest of the two goalkeepers with smart stops to deny Tom Eaves and Dave McAllister. But Town couldn’t find a winner even though they would go close to securing the points twice towards the end.
Michael Jackson named an unchanged line-up - keeping faith with the side that came from two behind to win at Notts County last week – for the clash with Coventry City.
The lights were on from the kick-off against a gloomy backdrop here in Northampton. To think this fixture last season attracted over 15,000 to the Ricoh Arena. How times have changed for the Sky Blues with less than 15% of that number attracted further down the M6 at the place they temporarily call ‘home.’
Coventry started brightly with Chuba Akpom dragging a left foot shot wide inside four minutes and Callum Wilson got his bearings all wrong shortly after when well positioned on the edge of the box. But Town had managed to work the ball wide a few times themselves with the final ball lacking at times. From their first corner Connor Goldson did bring a save out of Murphy from Jon Taylor’s flag-kick, and the game was very evenly balanced in the first 10 minutes.
Much of the landscape was disappearing amidst darkening skies with the floodlights of Northampton’s rugby ground now barely visible in the distance. It might well be spring but even though the yellow matchball has been replaced with the more conventional white one, there was still a distinctly wintry feel to proceedings.
On 20 minutes Shrews came within a whisker of scoring when Nathaniel Mendez-Laing seized on some sloppy defending and created an opening for Eaves. The striker put his laces through the ball from 15 yards and it took a brilliant reactionary stop from Murphy to just about see the ball past the upright.
Eaves then showed considerable pace to switch play and return the favour for Mendez-Laing, but sadly his first touch was off and the goalkeeper this time wasn’t called into action. To be fair to Eaves, he looked like he’d been fed three Shredded Wheat for his breakfast, and was certainly posing one or two problems for the City defenders with his willingness to work the lone furrow up top.
As Salop continued to press, Taylor floated a dangerous looking free-kick a yard wide with the ball by-passing a number of red and black shirts queuing up at the back stick.
A few hardy souls stood up on the hill overlooking Sixfields – presumably refusing to put any money into the Sisu coffers – and inside the ground the atmosphere was virtually non-existent, with around 100 City fans behind one goal and the narrow stand on the far side completely closed. You could hear the exchanges between coaches and players on the near touchline and it was all, well, rather eerie.
Just before the break Mendez-Laing went down the tunnel with what looked like a recurrent hamstring injury, so Miles Storey was brought on to replace him.
Half Time: Coventry City 0 Town 0
The attendance was announced at the midway point with less than 2,000 coming through the turnstiles. On the flip side, almost 400 Salopians had travelled but it was further proof of the Coventry fans’ apathy towards their club’s owners. Even the numbers on the hill had considerably diminished, with the weather, and quite possibly the football, not enough of an attraction to keep them here – even for free.
Shrewsbury were playing into the wind in the second half and weren’t quite as precise with their passing. But they ought to have opened the scoring after 62 minutes. Ryan Woods found some space down the right and his exquisite cross looked sure to bring the opener. But both Eaves and McAllister went for the same ball and the end result was a huge sigh of relief for Coventry City. They should have been trailing.
Town hadn’t been quite as creative as they had been at Notts, but then, they hadn’t been half as leaky at the back and they were well worth their share of the points as the game went into the last fifteen.
Michael Petrasso shot well over for the Sky Blues as they went in search of a winner but Joe Anyon in the Town goal was heading for a second clean sheet in three games as the rains swept across the Sixfields pitch.
Bahrudin Atajic got a run out for the last ten minutes as Eaves pulled up on the near touchline with the game having gone stale and neither side looking like taking hold of it in the time that remained.
Town scored seven on their last visit here. Today, one would have been enough, but in truth, it seldom looked like arriving. That said, but for a fabulous stop by Murphy from McAllister’s fierce shot with just two minutes left, and Taylor’s giddiness when he fired over in stoppage time, Shrewsbury would have been celebrating back-to-back victories for the first time this season.
Full Time: Coventry City 0 Town 0