Town record late win at Rovers
Town: Craig MacGillivray, Ben Godfrey, Mat Sadler, Omar Beckles, Shaun Whalley (Sam Jones 83), Abu Ogogo, Carlton Morris (Stefan Payne 74), Nathan Thomas (Alex Rodman 74), James Bolton, Jon Nolan, Toto Nsiala
Subs: Shaun Rowley, Max Lowe, Lenell John-Lewis, Bryn Morris, Sam Jones, Alex Rodman, Stefan Payne
Bristol Rovers: Adam Smith, Liam Sercombe, Ollie Clarke © (Kyle Bennett 56), Ellis Harrison, Chris Lines, Tom Broadbent, Marc Bola, Joe Partington, Stuart Sinclair, Tony Craig, Rory Gaffney (Bernard Mensah 79)
Subs: Sam Slocombe, Lee Brown, Ryan Sweeney, Tom Nichols, Dom Telford, Bernard Mensah, Kyle Bennett
Referee: Trevor Kettle
Assistants: Steven Plane and Andrew Williams
Fourth Official: Simon Barrow
Attendance: 9380 (700)
Shrewsbury Town scored late once again to record a last-gasp away win against Bristol Rovers. The opening 60 minutes had seen very little goalmouth action but that all changed in five minutes as Omar Beckles headed Town in front before Joe Partington levelled for Rovers. The game appeared to be heading for a draw until Alex Rodman’s brilliant late run and cross was headed home by Toto Nsiala to give Town all three points.
Paul Hurst makes one change to the side which beat Portsmouth last weekend. Nathan Thomas comes straight into the side after his deadline day loan move from Sheffield United and replaces Alex Rodman on the left-wing. Fellow deadline day signing Sam Jones takes a place on the bench, but Abo Eisa won’t be involved this weekend.
It was a pretty even opening 25 minutes as both sides felt each other out. Town possibly edged it with both Nathan Thomas and Shaun Whalley putting in decent balls from the wings, whilst Rovers attempted a couple of long range efforts, but neither side managed to test the opposition goalkeeper.
There was a short period of concern for Town fans when Nathan Thomas was fouled by Joe Partington and Town’s new signing stayed down, but after a bit of treatment from Chris Skitt he was back on his feet and the game could continue.
The game had a real bitty feel to it and that wasn’t helped by another short spell of inaction when Rory Gaffney went down under the challenge of Toto Nsiala. There was no foul involved, but Gaffney stayed down and the Rovers physio had to come on.
It wasn’t until the 34th minute of the game that either side had a clear cut chance and it fell the way of Town. Shaun Whalley’s free-kick was headed back across the face of goal by Toto Nsiala and Carlton Morris threw his foot at it, but he couldn’t direct the effort from six yards and it went a yard wide of the post.
At the other end, Rovers created their first real chance as Town failed to clear their lines at the first attempt, but they threw their bodies on the line to block an effort from Liam Sercombe. Sercombe also had a deflected shot just before half-time which went straight into the arms of Craig MacGillivray.
The first-half had lacked any real goalmouth action of note and the second-half started in much the same fashion with moves breaking down with increased regularity. The hosts were perhaps just edging things as they looked to play with more zip than they had shown in the opening 45 minutes, but Craig MacGillivray’s quiet afternoon continued.
With 59 minutes on the clock Town managed their first shot on target as Nathan Thomas found space on the left hand side. He ran 15 yards with the ball before deciding to shoot, but Adam Smith got everything behind it and managed to keep hold of it with Shaun Whalley ready to pounce.
Town didn’t have to wait long to take the lead as they did so in the 62nd minute. Jon Nolan had been found 10 yards outside the box and Shaun Whalley lifted a free-kick into the heart of the box where Omar Beckles met it to head into the bottom corner and give Town the lead.
However, Rovers quickly got themselves back into the game four minutes later. Town failed to fully clear an initial Rovers attack and Liam Sercombe picked the ball up just outside the box. He fed Joe Partington who was bombing down the right channel and his shot from the edge of the area took a deflection before going through the legs of Craig MacGillivray and into the back of the net.
The game was now really opening up and Abu Ogogo went close after some good work from Nathan Thomas, but he couldn’t quite turn Thomas’ cross on target at the near post, whilst at the other end Craig MacGillivray was forced to tip a chipped Kyle Bennett effort over the bar.
With 74 minutes on the clock Town made their first changes of the afternoon and it was a double change as Alex Rodman and Stefan Payne replaced Nathan Thomas and Carlton Morris. This was followed nearly 10 minutes later by Sam Jones coming on for his Town debut in place of Shaun Whalley.
With just two minutes of the game remaining Town managed to get themselves back in front and all the credit must go to Alex Rodman. The Town substitute beat three Rovers players down the left-hand side before reaching the by-line and firing it across the face. It was then difficult to tell whether it had hit the post and gone in or whether Nsiala had nodded it home from a yard, but Town were leading 2-1.
Stefan Payne was booked for time wasting during the celebrations but Town saw out the game well to pick up yet another win on the road.