Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Shrewsbury’s brave Emirates FA Cup adventure was ended at the 5th round stage this evening by a rampant Manchester United team, who cruised to a 3-0 victory at a packed out Greenhous Meadow. Chris Smalling put United in front and Juan Mata’s free-kick on the half time whistle all but ended the contest. Jesse Lingard grabbed a third for the away side and although Town went right to the end, they could have few complaints at the outcome with the Reds dominating for long periods.
Town were unchanged from the side that won 3-2 at Blackpool last time out, for the most high profile game in the club’s history. Manchester United might not be the force that they once were, but they remain the plum draw in any competition both home and abroad.
Shrews got the game underway attacking the Salop Leisure end of the Stadium. And they could have trailed with barely a minute played when Smalling headed over the top after finding room in the box to meet Daley Blind’s corner. The next attempt by Memphis nearly landed in Memphis much to the amusement of three sides of the ground.
But after 10 minutes Memphis went much closer forcing Jayson Leutwiler into a decent save after the playmaker had wriggled free in the box. It was the Red Devils who were dictating play in the early stages; retaining the ball and making pretty good use of it over all areas of the pristine surface.
The atmosphere inside the Greenhous was crackling and although Town were predictably on the back foot for long spells, the noise levels went up each time there was a hint of a Shrewsbury attack.
Town appeared content to concede possession to United - restricting the Premier League side to long distance efforts that more often than not were wayward in their execution.
After 28 minutes it looked like the Mancunians had made the breakthrough. Leutwiler saved Anthony Martial’s effort with his legs but the ball spun towards the goal and only a fine piece of defending by Abu Ogogo on the line saved the day for Salop.
Jermaine Grandison was next to thwart the £35m teenager with a vital tackle blocking his route to goal. But when the goal eventually came, it was from an unlikely source. Smalling’s effort bounced into the ground and took a wicked deflection off NKP, looping up over a stranded Leutwiler before dropping into the far corner.
As United continued to press, Ogogo picked up a yellow card for stopping Martial in full flight just outside the box, but the punishment would be far more damaging. Mata lifted the ball over the wall and Leutwiler was rooted to the spot as the net rippled, with the second goal coming in added on time at the end of the first half. The whistle sounded almost immediately with LvG’s side good value for their two goal lead.
Half Time: Town 0 Manchester United 2
During the interval both sides had made changes. Ex-United youth player Larnell Cole replaced Knight Percival with Ogogo taking over the skipper’s armband, and Joe Riley came on for Cameron Borthwick Jackson.
Martial headed a decent chance wide early in the second half with Town yet to put anything together that might trouble David De Gea’s stand in, Sergio Romero. Indeed, but for two routine catches the United keeper hadn’t had a thing to do.
The away end chorused its complete back catalogue of songs from Charlton and Best, to Keane, Stam and Ronaldo as their team continued to demonstrate their superiority. Lingard’s tap in right in front of them just past the hour was hardly a surprise, and rounded off a classic counter attack so synonymous with some of the great United sides of the past.
You had to feel for Micky’s boys. Seldom will most of them have been involved in such a hyped up fixture, and yet they’d been forced into chasing shadows as the team in all white pegged them back time and again. Substitute Keane clattered the post within two minutes of coming on for Martial but he would play no further part in the match with injury reducing United to ten men for the last quarter hour. Injuries had hampered van Gaal’s preparations for this match and Keane’s name can be added to an ever growing list.
Jordan Clark got a late run out for JLAA who like most of the lads had given their all. But this wasn’t Southend United, Colchester United or even Sheffield United. This was Manchester United, and they didn’t look like a side struggling for the kind of consistency that might keep van Gaal’s name off the back pages.
There was almost something for the home fans to cheer when Cole’s shot deflected into the path of Ogogo but his effort was scrambled away. With less than four minutes left, the goal the Town fans craved should have arrived. Jack Grimmer’s cross picked out Ogogo in space but instead of directing his header beyond Romero, the midfielder steered it well wide. It might have been little more than a consolation, but at least it would have been something memorable to take from an otherwise disappointing evening.
Cole lashed one just over in added on time but United deserved their place in the Quarter Finals where they will face West Ham at Old Trafford. Shrewsbury Town Football Club wishes them well in their quest to land a first FA Cup since 2004.
Full Time: Town 0 Manchester United 3
Attendance:9,370 (including 1,563 from Manchester)
Shrewsbury Town:Jayson Leutwiler, Zak Whitbread, Nat Knight-Percival (c) (Larnell Cole, 46), Jermaine Grandison, Junior Brown, Ian Black, Abu Ogogo, Jack Grimmer, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro (Jordan Clark, 81), Andy Mangan, Shaun Whalley
Subs not used: Mark Halstead (GK), Scott Vernon, Elliott Grandin, Dom Smith, Mat Sadler
Manchester United:Sergio Romero, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata (Andreas Pereira, 65), Anthony Martial (Will Keane, 71), Chris Smalling (c), Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Morgan Schneiderlin, Guillermo Varela, Jesse Lingard, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (Joe Riley, 46)
Subs not used:Dean Henderson, Michael Carrick, Paddy McNair, Regan Poole
Assistants: S Child & S Burt
Fourth Official:N Swarbrick