Shrewsbury Town: JaysonLeutwiler, Connor Goldson, Liam Lawrence (c), Jermaine Grandison, Ryan Woods, Bobby Grant, Mark Ellis (Tyrone Barnett, 62), Mickey Demetriou, Cameron Gayle (Scott Vernon, 30), James Collins (Andy Mangan, 69), Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro
Subs not used: Mark Halstead, Dom Smith, Mikael Mandron, Jordan Clark
Plymouth Argyle: Luke McCormick, Kelvin Mellor, Curtis Nelson (c), Dom Blizzard (Gethin Jones, 67), Tarieq Holmes-Dennis, Carl McHugh, Bobby Reid, Anthony O’Connor, Zak Ansah (Ollie Norburn, 74), Ryan Brunt (Tyler Harvey, 67), Peter Hartley
Subs not used: James Bittner, Ben Purrington, Jason Banton, Aaron Bentley
Referee: D. Bond
Assistants: D. Gratton & P. Wright
Fourth Official: J. Clarke
Attendance: 8,963 (1,094 from Plymouth)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Two first half goals from Bobby Reid and Kelvin Mellor put paid to any hopes Town had of landing the SKY Bet League Two title. Plymouth struck in the opening and closing minutes of the half to condemn Salop to only their second home defeat of a hugely successful season.
Micky Mellon decided on an unchanged eighteen man squad – just rewards for a group that secured promotion with a game to spare.
It was a chilly afternoon in SY2 with the lights already on by kick-off in front of a packed out Greenhous Meadow. There was a poignant 60 seconds applause held before proceedings got underway, for all those Town fans who had recently passed away.
But with just two minutes on the clock, the sell-out crowd were left stunned when Mellor’s right wing cross was guided home at the near post by Reid with a deft volley from his right boot.
Bang on 10 minutes the visitors should have doubled their lead when Zak Ansah skipped past a few challenges to get himself into a goalscoring position. He flashed the ball across goal where Anthony O’Connor was just a whisker away from a tap-in at the back post. And 60 seconds later James Collins engineered an opening from Bobby Grant’s cross, only for Luke McCormick to get down well to make the save. Shrews forced a number of corners in the opening 15 minutes but the Pilgrims defence held firm.
News came of a Burton goal at Cambridge with Town relying on the U’s to do them a favour assuming they could turn around their own fortunes here. And they nearly did too when Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro latched on to Mickey Demetriou’s clever ball forward to beat McCormick - only to have strayed behind the last man and see his strike ruled out by the lino on the near side.
It was a decent enough game with a bit of zip on the surface allowing the ball to move freely. Town had fallen behind due to a momentary lapse in concentration but their response had been a good one. That said, it was Argyle who were next to show when Ansah failed to get enough bend on his shot which faded wide of Jayson Leutwiler’s left hand post.
Plymouth looked very lively in the final third with the home defence not looking quite as impregnable as it had been for much of the campaign. And the home side’s passing hadn’t quite been of the standards set for the best part of nine months either.
Town were forced into a change with Cam Gayle hobbling off just before the half-hour with Scott Vernon the man thrown on to replace him.
As the clock ticked towards half-time and Shrews still looking a tad disjointed, Mellor was given the freedom of the County to almost walk into a dangerous central position inside the box, before drawing Leutwiler and coolly slotting beyond him for a second Plymouth goal.
Half-Time: Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 2
There were huge cries for a Town penalty at the resumption when first Liam Lawrence, and then Collins, both went to ground in the area, but the man in the middle was well positioned and said no on both occasions.
Shrewsbury had arguably their best chance when Lawrence whipped in a cross but Grant was only able to put his header into the grateful arms of McCormick. A goal then might have made things really interesting but Argyle appeared content to surrender possession and hold a tight rearguard action.
That was on 55 minutes, and four minutes later Ryan Woods did well to create space and get a deflected shot away with the outside of his right boot. But McCormick went full stretch to tip the midfielder’s effort past the post.
The Town boss decided to change things and put Tyrone Barnett on in place of defender Mark Ellis, opting for a gung-ho approach in a nothing to lose, all to gain situation. Vernon lashed one wide of the post just after the substitution, before Andy Mangan was introduced for Collins with a shade over 20 minutes left.
Vernon tried to slip in Barnett but didn’t quite get his angles right, much to the dismay of the bulk of the 9,000 inside the Greenhous. It just hadn’t happened for Salop but it failed to dampen the enthusiasm from the home supporters who remained in fine voice to the end.
It took a fantastic save from the flying Leutwiler to deny sub Tyler Harvey a third from a well-struck 25 yard free-kick, before McCormick kept out Barnett’s dipping volley with an equally impressive stop at the other end.
The final whistle brought a well natured pitch invasion, but warmest congratulations must go to Burton Albion who had shown remarkable consistency since getting to the top.
They say second is nowhere. Not around these parts it isn’t. Well done lads! Floreat Salopia.
Full-Time: Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 2