Shrewsbury Town 2-1 Rochdale
David Longwell made two changes to the side that beat AFC Telford United on penalties in the Shropshire Senior Cup final last Tuesday. Jack Atkinson and Kian Taylor replace Cameron Gregory and Ryan Grosvenor respectively. Both sides met each other for the first team this season just 17 days ago, which saw Town fall to a 5-2 defeat to Rochdale. The goal scorers for Shrewsbury that day were Jamaine Turner and Lifumpa Mwandwe.
Jack Atkinson was forced into an early save when Luke Matheson found himself in front of goal, but a save from his foot was enough to deny the visitors from taking an early lead. Rochdale soon found themselves on the break again which saw a neat passage of play between Louis White, Fabio Tavares and Joseph Dunne; however, Luke Ward was there to see off any further danger. A great solo run by Jamaine Turner soon saw the roles reversed, although the Rochdale defence weren’t concerned as luckily for them his pass had way too much power behind it and the ball ended up in the hands of Morgan Piper.
One minute later, Town were awarded a penalty after Archie Elmore was brought down in the box. He stood over the ball and on the referee’s whistle, he calmly converted the spot kick into the top right corner to give the home team the lead. Rochdale had penalty shouts of their own just a couple of minutes later but referee Lee Budworth waved away their pleas, much to the team’s annoyance.
In the 19th minute, Jack Leask won a free-kick when he was brought down by his opposite number, Florent Hoti. Town skipper James Rowland stood over the ball and was able to pick out Luke Ward at the far post who managed to head the ball past Morgan Piper and into the bottom right corner; doubling Shrewsbury’s lead. Rochdale nearly pulled a goal back though when Fabio Tavares found himself in front of goal, but his final shot was inches wide of Jack Atkinson’s goal, who was already at full stretch to make certain it wouldn’t find the target. The defensive unit remained strong and saw off Florent Hoti’s advances to keep their two-goal lead in-tact.
A big decision by Jack Atkinson paid off for his team when Fabio Tavares nearly created a goal-scoring opportunity but the Town goalkeeper bravely decided to come out of his box and was able to clear their chance. Archie Elmore nearly got his second goal of the afternoon but he was denied by Adejuwon Hamzat. There were calls for a penalty but the referee thought it was too soft and ignored Town’s appeals. Rochdale had a chance to score their first of the game just before the end of the first half but Florent Hoti’s effort curled wide past Jack Atkinson’s goal.
The first real chance from both teams came 20 minutes into the second half, when Rochdale’s shot on goal rattled Atkinson’s crossbar but Dan Walker was alert and cleared the ball behind for a corner, which eventually came to nothing. Town nearly added a third to their tally thanks to a passage of play between Lifumpa Mwandwe and Liam Thomas, with the latter being able to find the feet of James Rowland who couldn’t quite control his shot and their opportunity came to an end.
Chances came for both sides in quick succession. The first fell to Shrewsbury but Archie Elmore, when trying to switch play to his other foot, lost the ball in front of Morgan Piper’s goal. And the second came for Rochdale but they were stopped on the counter attack after a perfectly timed tackle by Dan Walker. A brilliant double save by Jack Atkinson denied the visitors from adding their first goal of the day; saving their first shot which he dropped, with Fabio Tavares there for the rebound but his shot was too close to Atkinson who dived to the floor to make that all-important second save.
Florian Yonsian finally scored the goal that Rochdale were desperately craving in the 80th minute when he tapped the ball into the net from close range. A last-ditch chance from Shrewsbury to add a third was wasted when Luke Ward met the end of the cross from a corner, but his header was saved by Morgan Piper.
Shrewsbury Town are back in action on Saturday 30th March where they will be looking to take all three points from Accrington Stanley after only managing a 2-2 draw in December.
Team: Jack Atkinson, Zac Hartley (Elliot Tibbs 78), Dan Walker, James Rowland (c), Tom Davies, Luke Ward, Jamaine Turner (Liam Thomas 64), Kian Taylor (Ryan Grosvenor 56), Archie Elmore, Jack Leask, Lifumpa Mwandwe.
Unused sub: Sam Agius, Jacob Bell.