Martin Wild reports from the Pirelli Stadium
Shaun Whalley struck in added on time to exact revenge for Burton’s late winner at the GM earlier in the season. Andy Mangan looked to have earned Shrewsbury Town a very creditable point at league leaders Burton Albion. The striker had used his predatory instincts to pounce inside the six yard box and cancel out Damien McCrory’s first half opener for Nigel Clough’s title chasers. But with time running out, Town struck with a classic counter attack with Whalley in acres of space to net a dramatic winner.
Micky Mellon rang the changes for the clash at the Pirelli after last week’s disappointing result at home to Barnsley. Jayson Leutwiler made a return between the posts for a first appearance since suffering a nasty facial injury at Grimsby in the FAC last month. And Richie Wellens, Kyle Vassell and James Wallace were all handed starts after making second half appearances against the Tykes.
Town kicked off towards the home supporters wearing their change colours of sky blue and white. The floodlights were on from the outset and the pitch looked in really good nick.
It was Albion who were first to show with Tom Naylor’s rasping drive from the edge of the box turned over smartly by a fully extended Leutwiler.
Larnell Cole had Town’s first strike on goal but it carried little power and didn’t call Jon McLaughlin into a save. The Shrewsbury supporters away to our right were providing excellent backing for their side and but for a heavy first touch from Vassell in a really promising position, they might have had something to really celebrate.
The home side took the lead on 18 minutes when McCrory found the bottom corner of the net with his left foot, but really, Cole should have been much more alive to the danger. He looked guilty of ball watching and didn’t react anywhere near quickly enough to get across and block off the shot.
There was an injury concern for Zak Whitbread after he fell heavily having won an aerial challenge. But the central defender was able to recover fairly quickly with the immediate worry of concussion quickly ruled out.
What struck you most about the opening half hour of this match was the lack of noise from home areas. The Brewers are perhaps punching against their weight a little bit, but they deserved better backing from the terraces, with very little atmosphere generated from any of the three sections filled by Albion’s supporters.
There hadn’t been too much goalmouth action in the first 45 - although Nasser El Khayati flashed one wide in added on time - and the hosts went down the tunnel with a half time lead.
Half Time: Burton Albion 1 Town 0
Mark Duffy fired straight at Leutwiler within four minutes of the restart and Salop forced a couple of corners soon after. From the second of them on 52 minutes, Mangan hit the leveller. Nat Knight-Percival headed on with McLaughlin – under pressure - failing to collect Black’s kick, and there was Mangan to net from close range in front of the travelling support. It might have been a scruffy goal and there may have been an element of good fortune about it, but no-one of a blue and amber persuasion were complaining too loudly.
Whitbread was booked for a foul on Stuart Beavon and Duffy forced Leutwiler into a save as Burton responded to being pegged back. The equaliser had certainly increased the noise levels around the Pirelli with home fans finally in good voice.
Mellon made his first change with 20 minutes left withdrawing Cole, who was replaced by Jordan Clark.
The referee was getting pelters from the Albion fans as he seemed to be making more than the odd decision in the favour of Shrewsbury. Anything that did go their way was met by ironic cheers.
Substitute Mason Bennett – on loan from Derby County – wasted a glorious chance when he headed well over from a peach of a cross swung in by El Khayati. The game was still on a knife edge with both clubs desperate to take something from it, albeit for very different reasons.
McCrory was booked for halting Vassell’s run just in front of the dug-outs with the game just inside the last ten minutes. Soon after, the Town boss made a late double change with Whalley and JLAA replacing Black and Vassell.
Late on, Burton forced five successive corners but each of them were defended heroically by a well drilled Town defence. The fourth official held up his board to indicate five more minutes of play for Shrews to hold out.
They did better than that and struck right at the death and it was the two substitutes who linked to devastating affect for Town. JLAA sprinted clear down the left and looked up to see Whalley in acres and making up good ground. The lay-off was inch perfect and the number 10 rolled the ball past McLaughlin. What a finish – literally!
Mangan might have made it three but for a fine save at the death from McLaughlin, but 2-1 it stayed to wreck thousands of accumulators.
Full Time: Burton Albion 1 Town 2
Town: Jayson Leutwiler, Nat Knight-Percival (c), Zak Whitbread, Junior Brown, Ian Black (Shaun Whalley, 83), Richie Wellens, Jack Grimmer, Kyle Vassell (Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, 84), Andy Mangan, Larnell Cole (Jordan Clark, 70), James Wallace
Subs not used: Mark Halstead (GK), Scott Vernon, Dom Smith, Mat Sadler
Burton Albion: Jon McLaughlin, Phil Edwards, John Mousinho (c), Callum Reilly (Mason Bennett, 62), Stuart Beavon, Nasser El Khyati (Lucas Akins, 81), Calum Butcher, Damien McCrory, Tom Naylor, Anthony O’Connor, Mark Duffy
Subs not used: Stephen Bywater, Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, Aurelien Joachim, Marcus Harness, Sam Austin
Referee: Mr. G. Salisbury
Assistants: Mr. A. Clayton & Mr. A. Newbold
Fourth Official: Mr. N. Greenhalgh