Town: Jayson Leutwiler, Connor Goldson, Liam Lawrence (c), Jermaine Grandison, Ryan Woods, Bobby Grant (Jordan Clark, 89), Mark Ellis, Mickey Demetriou, Cameron Gayle, Andy Mangan (James Collins, 62), Tyrone Barnett (Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, 62)
Subs not used: Callum Burton, Dom Smith, Scott Vernon, James Caton
York City: Michael Ingham, Femi Ilesanmi (Shaun Miller, 68), John McCombe, Michael Coulson, Luke Summerfield, Russ Penn (c), Keith Lowe, Bradley Halliday, Shaquile Coulthirst, Stephane Zubar, Jake Hyde
Subs not used: Jason Mooney, Marvin McCoy, Lewis Montrose, Tom Platt, Lindon Meikle, John O’Hanlon
Referee: B. Malone
Assistants: D. Benton & P. Thompson
Fourth Official: D. Plowright
Attendance: 6,400 (425 from York)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Shrewsbury Town might need another three points to mathematically secure promotion, but surely Mark Ellis’ 12thminute winner today against York City was good enough to give Town the golden ticket out of League Two? With another clean sheet safely banked, they also created history with the highest number of shutouts recorded in a season. But they were made to work extremely hard by a York side who had several chances to score.
Micky Mellon made four changes to his starting line up after the narrow midweek defeat at fellow promotion chasers Bury. Ryan Woods and Connor Goldson both returned after completing two match bans, and up front Andy Mangan and Tyrone Barnett were picked to lead the line for the first time this season, with top scorer James Collins and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro both relegated to the bench. Also amongst the substitutes was home-grown goalkeeping talent, Callum Burton.
Town kicked off attacking the Pro-Vision CCTV Stand with the whole stadium bathed in sunshine. There was a decent crowd inside the Greenhous and there was a sense of expectation amongst the home support without any question.
After five minutes, there were howls of derision when the referee saw something in Goldson’s excellent tackle that the rest of us missed. And Jayson Leutwiler was tested from Michael Coulson’s free-kick from just outside the box, managing to spoon the ball away before Town cleared.
There was a smashing atmosphere with both sets of fans in fine voice with the away side well backed in their first visit to the Meadow since it opened its doors eight years ago.
Bang on 11 minutes, City keeper Michael Ingham managed to turn over Bobby Grant’s free-kick with Shrews profiting from the second of two corners. Ellis had seen his first attempt scrappily defended but he made no mistake with his second chance. Grant’s corner fell invitingly and the former Crewe defender bulleted his header into the roof of the net to give Ingham no chance. The stadium erupted knowing that a win for their heroes would all but guarantee promotion back to League One at the first time of asking.
Five minutes after the goal Cam Gayle did well in the area and his pass to Barnett was struck first time forcing Ingham into a smart stop low down. There was a scare for the hosts when influential skipper Liam Lawrence needed lengthy treatment from physio Chris Skitt, but he recovered with the healing qualities of a wet sponge once again proving its worth.
Town were good value for the lead with just a bit more quality throughout the side than their opponents, who were at least able to play with a freedom having shaken of the danger of relegation with their midweek home win over Morecambe. But it still took a really good save from Leutwiler midway through the half to thwart Shaquile Coulthirst. The pacy striker - on loan at Bootham Crescent from Tottenham - had scored a winner for Southend in Town’s game at Root’s Hall back in September. He didn’t connect that well with his shot but the keeper needed every inch of his significant frame to paw the ball just past the post.
Shrews were still doing most of the pressing and just past the half hour Barnett tested Ingham again with a powerful left footed strike, with the City keeper also at full stretch to repel the goalbound effort. Grant then nearly knocked ingham off his feet with a ferocious drive which the keeper stood up well to at his near post. Barnett claimed handball (not by the goalkeeper obviously) and failed to react to the loose ball allowing the defender to clear into touch.
With half-time approaching Goldson had a great chance but couldn’t direct his header on target from Lawrence’s well delivered corner. There had been much to admire about the quality of Town’s set pieces with each one of them causing problems for the Minstermen’s rearguard.
John McCombe did well for the visitors getting in a face saving tackle to deny Barnett, with the whistle blowing shortly after and Town in command at the break.
Half-Time: Town 1 York City 0
As the second half got underway the attendance was given as 6,400 with the vast majority hoping there wouldn’t be any more goals.
Mangan got into a great area down the left and had time and space to pick a pass but he opted for a shot and although Ingham struggled with it, it looked like Mangan ought to have picked out Barnett in space at the back post.
It almost proved costly when Russ Penn’s howitzer from 30 odd yards forced Leutwiler into a top drawer save. Having been beaten by Joe Riley’s stunner from similar range in midweek, the big Swiss wasn’t going to be done by a second worldie and Penn was left with head in hands. It was the nearest York had come to giving the likes of Burton, Wycombe, Bury and Southend a right old boost.
Mellon pulled Akpa Akpro and Collins from the bench on 62 minutes as he rotated his strike pair in his first change of the afternoon. But two minutes after the swap, Leutwiler was made to work once more - flying across his line to again deny Coulthirst.
With news of Burton’s second goal at the Globe Arena filtering through, it needed a Town second and yet only a coat of paint prevented City from levelling in the 67th minute. Former Shrewsbury man Luke Summerfield lined up his shot and saw the post stand in the way of a shock leveller with Leutwiler this time beaten all ends up. It was a huge escape for Salop with Russ Wilcox’s men now beginning to enjoy themselves.
Home fans defiantly sung ‘We’re Going Up’ and they may well prove to be right, but there was plenty of tension in the air with under quarter of an hour left to play and still only a goal in it.
York were pushing for all their worth for an equaliser and it nearly came from the boot of another player who once wore blue and amber. But Shaun Miller, having sprinted clear of the home defenders, was crowded out at the last and shot just over. A linesman’s flag then came to Town’s rescue with everyone in the ground – barring the 425 from Yorkshire – breathing collective sighs of relief as Town’s net bulged only for the ‘goal’ to be chalked off.
Collins picked up a yellow for dissent and with two minutes left came a glorious opportunity to wrap it up. Akpa Akpro burst through on goal and with just the keeper to beat you fancied him to put the chance away, but his attempt was powderpuff and Ingham made an easy save.
Three minutes of added on time were played with Town in no rush to do anything with the ball except cherish it, and the whistle was greeted with huge cheers around the Meadow with promotion now almost certainly assured, if not yet confirmed.
Full-Time: Town 1 York City 0