Town win a pulsating encounter at the Meadow
Shrewsbury Town: Dean Henderson, Max Lowe, Ben Godfrey, Mat Sadler, Omar Beckles, Shaun Whalley (Abo Eisa, 85), Nathan Thomas(Lenell John-Lewis, 94), James Bolton, Bryn Morris, Jon Nolan and Stefan Payne (Sam Jones, 95).
Subs: Craig MacGillivray, Carlton Morris, Arthur Gnahoua, Lenell John-Lewis, Luke Hendire, Sam Jones and Abo Eisa.
Oxford United: Simon Eastwood, Ryan Ledson, Cameron Brannagan, Josh Ruffels, Rob Dickie, James Henry (Isaac Buckley-Ricketts, 74), Joe Rothwell, Todd Kane, Jonathan Obika (Malachi Napa, 60), Agon Mehmeti (Wes Thomas, 60) and John Mousinho.
Subs: Scott Shearer, Aaron Martin, Wes Thomas, Ricardinho, Ashley Smith-Brown, Isaac Buckley-Ricketts and Malachi Napa.
Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge
Assistants: Gareth Mellor and Kevin Morris
Fourth Official: Joseph Johnson
In a thrilling game of football, Town secured all three points after an impresive 3-2 win over Oxford United. Two goals from Shaun Whalley and a goal from Jon Nolan secured the vital victory for the Shrews.
Toto Nsiala is out of the match day squad with a fractured cheekbone, Omar Beckles moves into the centre back position and Max Lowe is introduced into the starting eleven. James Bolton returns for his first start since injury at right back and replaces Luke Hendrie, who drops to the bench. Town will line up in a 4141 formation.
An early chance came for the Shrews within the first five, from an Oxford defensive mistake. The Oxford defence passed a short ball back towards keeper Simon Eastwood but Shaun Whalley couldn’t get near to the ball quick enough and The U’s keeper smothered the ball away.
The pressure was mounting on The U’s defence; a few moments later James Bolton played a neat through ball onto the wing and found Whalley. The winger fired in a low cross towards Stefan Payne but the striker couldn’t get a clear shot at goal.
Another similar chance fell for Payne a few minutes later, Nathan Thomas’s driving play down the wing created an almost identical opening, this time Payne connected well but Eastwood got a firm foot to the ball and saved the strikers shot.
Dean Henderson was tasked with keeping the scores level just after the 20-minute mark. Jonathan Obika struck a low hard shot towards the bottom right corner but Henderson got down well to claim the ball for Town.
A yellow card was brandished to Nathan Thomas after the winger kicked the ball away in frustration after committing a foul when he was chasing down the ball.
Another fantastic save from Henderson came 10 minutes after his first one. Obika had another shot which was deflected off Omar Beckles, the keeper readjusted himself and managed to get a strong hand to the ball.
Shortly after, Town broke towards the other end of the pitch. Whalley drove the ball into the box past two Oxford defenders and managed to get a shot away. Eastwood managed to once again clear the ball.
The deadlock was broke in the 40th minute by Whalley, after a good first half from the winger. Whalley’s free kick on the edge of the box went through all of the bodies to nestle in the bottom right corner, giving Town the one goal advantage just before half time.
Max Lowe was given a yellow card just before the break. The referee deemed Lowe’s challenge on Agon Mehmeti was late.
Town went into the break with a deserved one-goal advantage after Shaun Whalley Struck home from a free kick late on in the half.
Town started the second half off in the best possible fashion, Jon Nolan had a shot from outside of the box deflected into the top left corner taking the ball away from The U’s keeper and doubling Towns lead.
Just four minutes after Nolan’s goal, Payne had a chance to extend the deficit to three goals. Payne was one on one with the keeper after a poor Oxford back pass but put the ball just past the post.
Town were dominating the play ten minutes into the second half with a flurry of chances. Whalley crossed in an inch perfect ball, Bryn Morris headed the ball well and beat Eastwood but struck the ball off the bar.
The U’s halved the score line in the 61st minute. With almost his first touch, Wes Thomas smashed the ball home from a few yards out past Henderson after Bryn Morris and Max Lowe couldn’t clear the ball, making the score 2-1.
A perfect reply three minutes later and a second goal for Shaun Whalley restored the two-goal gap for Town; a great strike from an awkward angle just inside the box flew past Eastwood giving the Shrews a two-goal cushion for a second time.
Town were relentless in their pressure and kept attacking The U’s back line. Thomas had a great long range shot but the shaky keeper managed to keep a hold of the ball.
Against the run of play, Oxford were given a lifeline when Joe Rothwell’s shot at goal took a deflection and narrowly beat Henderson, brining the score to 3-2 in the 73rd minute.
Both teams were battling hard for the ball in the action packed half, Ben Godfrey was given a yellow card for a challenge on Oxford striker Wes Thomas towards the back end of the game.
Wes Thomas was booked injury time for blocking Henderson’s goal kick with his arm.
Town held on after five injury time minutes to secure a vital three points against Oxford United, which keeps Town at the top end of the table.