Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
A late goal condemned Shrewsbury to a fifth home defeat of the season at the Greenhous this evening. Keshi Anderson’s close range shot after 87 minutes added to James Coppinger’s opener on 14 minutes. Nat Knight-Percival had headed an equalising goal for Shrews before the half hour but they were undone in the closing stages of the game with Cameron Stewart afforded way too much space to set up the chance for the match winner.
Town made changes to the side that let a one goal lead slip away at Scunthorpe over the weekend. Liam Lawrence returned to captain the side and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro also earned a recall after making a subs appearance at Glanford Park. James Collins and Tyrone Barnett were both relegated to the bench with Mark Ellis back amongst the eighteen.
Shrewsbury started the game brightly and created the game’s first chance from a corner inside the first five minutes. Lawrence swung the kick over and Abu Ogogo made a firm enough connection with the ball but failed to hit the target, and a passable opportunity skipped by.
Ian Black picked up a yellow card when he stopped Anderson in full flow and advancing towards the danger area. The midfielder could have few complaints and from the free-kick Stewart forced Jayson Leutwiler into a tip over save. But Rovers took the lead from the corner when an attempted clearance landed at the feet of Coppinger. The skipper shot through a crowd of players and although Leutwiler threw a leg at it, the ball fizzed into the net as Shrews fell behind for the sixth time in seven home matches.
After 21 minutes though, Donny had an amazing let off. Sullay Kaikai’s effort wasn’t safely gathered by Thorsten Stuckmann but he sprung up quickly to deny Akpa Akpro from the rebound. And as the ball squirmed once more towards the Frenchman he stretched to push the ball goalwards only to be denied by the base of the post. And moments later, Kaikai went unbelievably close again for Salop after Larnell Cole had put him in with a defender to beat. Kaikai glided past his man before stroking his shot past Stuckmann but the ball went agonisingly wide of the far upright with an equalising goal looking a certainty.
The pressure soon told and it was Knight-Percival who bulleted his header into the top of Stuckmann’s net from Lawrence’s corner kick. It was no more than Town deserved after enjoying a purple spell which might easily have yielded three goals on another day.
This was a decent game between two sides who haven’t always got what they have deserved from their first thirteen league games. And it took a really good stop from Leutwiler when Nathan Tyson put the after burners on to cut a swathe right through the centre of the park, before being brilliantly denied by the Swiss goalkeeper after he’d run clear of the last man.
Three minutes before the interval Cole lashed a shot at Stuckmann but the ball moved around so much, that the Rovers keeper ended up being mightily relieved to see it bounce wide off an outstretched arm.
Half-Time: Town 1 Doncaster Rovers 1
Town kicked off the second half attacking the Salop Leisure Stand and the half-time sprinklers had given Doncaster’s defensive part of the pitch a right old soaking. A similar process in the last home game had brought goals in the second 45, with Colchester the victims of four well executed finishes to let a two goal advantage slide.
The first opening of the half saw Anderson get into a great space for the Keepmoat side but, not for the first time, Leutwiler’s sprawling save kept the game deadlocked at one apiece. It was a vital stop with one or two overly optimistic appeals for a penalty from the 250 supporters sporting red and white favours behind that goal.
Doncaster certainly had the better of the first 15 minutes or so but around the hour both managers decided to make substitutions. Town boss Micky Mellon had been given another energetic runaround from midfielder Black as he looks to sharpen his match fitness, and Jordan Clark was the man sent on in Black’s place. And less than a minute after new Doncaster boss Darren Ferguson had withdrawn Richard Chaplow for Harry Middleton, Anderson was going triple somersault with pike again in the 18 yard box, with Dom Smith standing as the accused. Fergie Junior was less than impressed with the fourth official left to decipher the Govan line of questioning. The gesticulating made his job that little bit easier.
Cole lashed a shot a yard over before the sides again made changes from the sidelines. Barnett – scorer of two on his last outing as a sub here – came on for the last 18 minutes with JLAA taken off, and the swap almost paid off straight away. Lawrence’s free kick found Kaikai in space but the youngster failed to work the keeper and you wished the chance had fallen to Barnett – even though he’d barely broken sweat. It was a superb opportunity but the end product didn’t match the quality of the delivery.
Eleven minutes from time a Stewart free kick for the visitors had Leutwiler rooted to the spot, with the ball feathering the top of the netting in a let-off for Mellon’s boys. A couple of feet lower and Doncaster would have been back in front.
Town hadn’t been at their best in the second half with much of the pressing done by the Yorkshire club. But they still looked menacing from Lawrence’s set pieces, and one almost brought about a Town goal. Barnett’s header appeared destined for the goal but it struck unsuspecting teammate Smith, and Rovers cleared their lines.
If Rovers were grateful to Smith, they were even more grateful when Anderson lashed the ball high into the net with less than four minutes left. Stewart danced across the edge of the area and laid a peach of a ball into Anderson and all he had to do was lift the ball over Leutwiler to win the game.
Matt Tootle thought he’d levelled soon after heading home off the underside of the bar from a belting Junior Brown cross, but a raised flag left right back and left with heads in hands.
Full Time: Town 1 Doncaster Rovers 2
Town: Jayson Leutwiler, Matt Tootle, Nat Knight-Percival, Ian Black (Jordan Clark, 62), Liam Lawrence (c), Junior Brown, Dom Smith, Sullay Kaikai, Larnell Cole, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro (Tyrone Barnett, 72), Abu Ogogo
Subs not used: Shaun Rowley (GK), Liam McAlinden, Mat Sadler, Mark Ellis, James Collins
Doncaster Rovers: Thorsten Stuckmann, Mitchell Lund, Cedric Evina, Andy Butler, Richie Wellens, Richard Chaplow (Harry Middleton, 63), Nathan Tyson (Andy Williams, 89), Gary MacKenzie (Luke McCullough, 72), Keshi Anderson, James Coppinger (c), Cameron Stewart
Subs not used: Marco Marosi, Harry Forrester, Andy Williams, Danny N’Guessan, Aaron Taylor-Sinclair
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Assistants: Marvyn Amphlett & Joe Clark
Fourth Official: Neil Radford
Attendance: 4,735 (250 from Doncaster)