Shrewsbury Town fall short in the first game of the Papa John's Trophy group stage.
Looking to emulate their revived second-half performance against Gillingham, Steve Cotterill’s men came into their Tuesday night tie eager to earn another successful result. A fairly even first-half saw both sides have their fair share of the ball, the visitors having the first sight of goal after Regan Griffiths’ attempt glanced wide of the net eight minutes after kick-off. Their second - and closest to an opener- came from midfielder Tom Lowery, whose powerful effort forced ‘keeper Harry Burgoyne to make a fine save to his left, pushing the effort out for a corner. Outside of those two chances, both Cotterill and Artell’s men were fairly matched across the pitch, with the hosts passing the ball around well at points but nothing coming to fruition.
It was Salop who were forced into their first chance of the game, after Rekeil Pyke suffered a knock that led to him being replaced by defender George Nurse in the 29th, pushing youngster Nathanael Ogbeta into an attacking role.
Ogbeta was quick to involve himself in Salop’s glimpses of attacking play, cutting the ball back for Charlie Caton in the 35th minute, his effort being smothered comfortably by Crewe's 'keeper Dave Richards – denying the youngster a chance to earn a goal in his first start of the season. Six minutes in, and referee Sebastian Stockbridge being forced to reach into his pocket for the first time, awarding a yellow to midfielder Khanya Leshabela after his challenge on the edge of the Salop area. Leshabela’s booking was the final call to action for Stockbridge before blowing the whistle for half-time, sending both sides in goalless after 45.
For the second-half, it was the visitors who started brightly and came inches close to an opener inside the first minute. Oliver Finney’s attempt producing a great save from Burgoyne who tipped the effort round the post. The following period was quiet for both sides, the most notable point being Salop’s second yellow of the game, awarded to Josh Daniels in the 58th following his mistimed challenge on Scott Robertson.
Crewe made their first change of the game, with loanee Ben Knight replacing Finney in the 61st. An effort from Ogbeta eight minutes on forced the flying Dave Richards into a great save that steered the youngster’s effort away from goal, the resulting corner again from Ogbeta forcing Richards into yet another save – this time knowing much less about it.
Both sides continued to battle on in search of an opener, but neither team came any closer as full-time approached, the closest from Salop coming through Ryan Bowman’s header that was comfortably caught by Richards. With full-time quickly approaching, both teams made changes going into the last ten minutes, with Crewe’s Josh Lundstram replacing Regan Griffiths in the 82nd and Luke Leahy replacing Caton two minutes on. Then, with two minutes left, Leshabela made way for Elliot Bennett as Salop searched to push further and further up the field.
However, despite their best attempts, it was heartbreak at the death for Salop. A looping cross into the Salop area found Chris Porter, whose header back towards goal met the foot of Ben Knight, the youngster striking the ball home to give the visitors the lead. It was just a matter of minutes later until Stockbridge blew for full-time, handing Salop a loss in their first outing in the Papa John’s Trophy this season.
Salop: Harry Burgoyne, Ethan Ebanks-Landell, Matthew Pennington, Shaun Whalley, Ryan Bowman, Nathanael Ogbeta, Rekeil Pyke (George Nurse 29’), David Davis, Charlie Caton (Luke Leahy 84’), Joshua Daniels, Khanya Leshabela (Elliott Bennett 87’).
Subs not used: Marko Marosi, Sam Cosgrove, Daniel Udoh, Tom Bloxham.
Crewe: Dave Richards, Kayne Ramsay, Tom Lowery, Chris Porter, Callum Ainley, Oliver Finney (Ben Knight 61’), Callum McFadzean, Regan Griffiths (Josh Lundstram 82’), Donervon Daniels, Travis Johnson, Scott Robertson.
Subs not used: Mikael Mandron, Tyreece Onyeka, Joe Robbins, Sam Booth, Connor O’Riordan.
Referee: Sebastian Stocksbridge.
Assistants: Hristo Karaivanov and Paul Stonier.
Fourth Official: Lewis Smith.
Attendance: 1680 (111)