Town: Jayson Leutwiler, Ryan Woods (Liam Lawrence, 89), Jordan Clark, Nathaniel Knight-Percival, Mark Ellis, Ashley Vincent (James Caton, 68), James Wesolowski, Cameron Gayle, James Collins, Connor Goldson (c), Scott Vernon (Andy Mangan, 79)
Subs: Mark Halstead, Jermaine Grandison, Aaron Wildig, Andy Robinson
Blackpool: Joe Lewis, Joan Oriol, David Perkins, Peter Clarke (c), Tomasz Cywka, Jacob Mellis (Mark Waddington, 60), Andrea Orlandi (Joel Dielna), Nathan Delfouneso, Sergei Zenjov (Ishmael Miller, 46), John Lundstram, Jeffrey Rentmeister
Subs: Charles Dunn, Elliott Parish, Dominic Telford
Referee: M. Heywood
Attendance: 4,524 (699 from Blackpool)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Ex-Blackpool striker Scott Vernon pounced to knock his former side out of the Capital One Cup at the first round stage with the game’s only goal. Vernon converted from close range 11 minutes before half time to secure the victory, which might have been secured by an even greater margin such was Town’s dominance for large spells of the match.
Micky Mellon made two changes to his starting line-up from the team which gained a point at Wimbledon in the opening game. As expected Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro wasn’t named due to the injury which forced him off at half-time at Kingsmeadow, and skipper Liam Lawrence dropped to the bench as he still looks for full fitness having missed some training sessions last week. Ashley Vincent and James Wesolowski came in as the two replacements while Connor Goldson took the captain’s armband.
Blackpool kicked off attacking the Salop Leisure Stand backed by a raucous and healthy following away to our right. The pitch was slippy after a hefty downpour pre-match and the floodlights were on from the off.
It was Goldson who had the first attempt on goal glancing on a header from Jordan Clark’s corner, and Town may have profited had there been a blue shirt on the back post to divert the effort goalwards. And Clark was unable to control a great knock forward from Nat Knight-Percival moments later as Shrews started well against the Championship side.
In another Shrewsbury attack – and all this inside of ten minutes – it took a smart block from Joe Lewis in the Blackpool goal to deny Vernon as the striker looked to steer his shot into the far corner. It was all Salop and a 25 yarder from Clark was deflected behind with Mark Ellis off target with his header from the resultant flag-kick.
Wesolowski picked up a second booking in as many games for a clumsy 15th minute challenge on the halfway line that’s commonly known as ‘taking one for the team,’ with the Tangerines launching a quick fire counter that caught Shrews a bit short in terms of defensive cover.
On 25 minutes Lewis made a great save at full length to deny Clark who picked his spot from outside the area. The former Barnsley man certainly packs a punch with his shots, having gone close twice this evening and again at Wimbledon at the weekend. Lewis stuck out a firm hand to divert another shot away in a crowded penalty box, with James Collins looking like the player who had prodded the ball towards the net. It was still goalless as Collo tried his luck once more but Shrewsbury were bossing the game all over the park with the Lancashire outfit offering very little going forward.
Town’s persistence was finally rewarded after 34 minutes with the opening goal. Vincent crossed and Collins flicked on for Vernon to bundle the ball home into the corner with his second touch, after chesting the ball down neatly to create the opening. Not even the most staunch of Seasiders fans could deny that Mellon’s men were worthy of the lead – the Bloomfield Road boys had been well off the pace and were fortunate in some respects to be just the single goal adrift.
But they were unlucky not to level just before the break. Tomasz Cywka’s low drive bounced against the base of Jayson Leutwiler’s right hand post and from the rebound, Nathan Delfouneso was denied by a brilliant block by the big Swiss keeper to preserve the lead at the halfway stage.
Half Time: Town 1 Blackpool 0
On the resumption, Wesolowski fired just behind after Lewis mishandled Vincent’s cross and Ellis was a whisker away from converting the corner. Half Time sub for Blackpool Ishmael Miller then warmed the hands of Leutwiler as the second half started with a terrifically high tempo.
Ellis was a man on a mission and deserved better than to see another looping header from Clark’s set piece drift marginally wide as Town pressed for a second goal that might end any Blackpool resistance.
The visitors made another change but again almost went two adrift immediately when Clark cut inside and forced Lewis into full length action with the ball arcing towards the bottom far corner.
A third and final change for the Lancastrians came just before the hour as the gate was announced at 4,524 – over a thousand up on the same stage of the competition against Bolton Wanderers last season.
Midway through the second half Miller’s shot flew across the face of the goal with Cywka launching himself at the ball. Any connection with it and we’d have been all square but thankfully from a Town perspective, his arrival was a fraction late and the hosts escaped. Immediately, Mellon made a first change with James Caton introduced for Vincent who came off to warm and deserved applause.
Talking of escapes, Clark put another long ranger within half of a yard of the upright with Lewis struggling to get across, and it remained nervy stuff despite Salop’s dominance for much of the encounter.
Clark deserved a goal and a direct free-kick with 15 minutes left once again drifted off target, but without any shadow, over the course of the season this lad will weigh in with his quota.
Leutwiler was called into action again with Delfouneso’s shot deflected towards the goal, before Andy Mangan replaced goalscorer Vernon with 11 minutes left.
With time running out Lawrence was introduced for Ryan Woods who had been nice and simple throughout, and Town were on the brink of a Championship scalp and a place in the second round draw.
Leutwiler’s stoppage time caution for time wasting did little to take the gloss off an accomplished performance from Mellon’s team, against the side the new Town boss once played for.
Full Time: Town 1 Blackpool 0