Town 1 Coventry City 1
Town: Chris Weale, Joe Jacobson, Tamika Mkandawire (c), Darren Jones, Ryan Woods, Jon Taylor, Luke Summerfield, Paul Parry, Aaron Wildig, Tom Bradshaw, Adam Reach (Main, 46)
Substitutes: Joe Anyon, Kaiman Anderson, Graham Burke, Alex McQuade, Dave McAllister, Connor Goldson,
Coventry City: Joe Murphy, Cyrus Christie, Andy Webster, Conor Thomas, John Fleck, Carl Baker (c) (Daniels, 78), Leon Clarke, Franck Moussa, Callum Wilson, Jordan Clarke, Ryan Haynes
Substitutes: Lee Burge, Mathieu Manset, Adam Barton, Aaron Phillips, Jordan Willis, Leon Lobjoit
Referee: Steven Rushton
Assistants: Michael D’Aguilar & Jonathan Hunt
Fourth Official: Daniel Meeson
Attendance: 6,541 (1,574 from Coventry)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Shrewsbury produced a stirring second half display to earn a point against Coventry City after trailing at the break. Callum Wilson’s fourth minute goal for the Sky Blues looked set to open the floodgates such was the away side’s dominance in the opening 45. But Town struck early in the second half through Tom Bradshaw and the home side might even have nicked all three points in the end following a pulsating clash throughout.
Town boss Graham Turner made one change to his starting line up for the clash with Coventry City, recalling skipper Tamika Mkandawire after the defender missed last week’s draw at Rotherham to be present at the birth of his daughter. Connor Goldson dropped to the bench with recent loan capture from Middlesbrough, Curtis Main, also named amongst the substitutes.
The crowd numbers were swelled significantly by a terrific following from Coventry, with barely an available seat to be had in the Pro-Vision CCTV stand.
There was a smashing tempo to the early exchanges and free scoring Coventry struck early in under four minutes. A perfectly weighted pass got Wilson in behind a flat footed defence and the striker coolly walked the ball past a stranded Chris Weale before rolling it into the unguarded net.
Franck Moussa forced Weale into a great stop low to his right to prevent the deficit from increasing just three minutes later with Town stung by the early goal. Having found the net thirteen times in their last three outings, Coventry’s hunger for goals was there for all to see - Shrews would need to be tighter at the back than they were demonstrating in the opening 10 minutes.
But Town were close to a leveller when a neat dink to the back stick from Ryan Woods was a smidge too high for Adam Reach who had ghosted in to take up a great position.
There was a really good atmosphere inside the Meadow with the 1500 or so visiting fans enjoying themselves with their side a goal to the good. But this wasn’t a one-sided affair and there had been enough to suggest that Salop could get back into the game provided they kept the door firmly bolted at the back.
Weale turned away a John Fleck cross into a dangerous area and then saved from Leon Clarke with the best chances still falling to the Sky Blues. And when Luke Summerfield lost possession all too easily it was the fingertips of Weale again that kept goalscorer Wilson at bay as he looked for his second of the afternoon.
Unfortunately, Shrews weren’t keeping hold of the ball for long enough periods and as a consequence, it allowed Coventry the freedom to spray the ball all around the park and create a number of reasonable opportunities. They were good value for their lead with half an hour played. Mind you, had Summerfield managed to keep his angled drive a yard or so lower we may well have had an unlikely equaliser.
Town were defending set plays really well winning the majority of headers, but it was in open play that Coventry looked the most dangerous. As the half time whistle sounded Salop may well have been relieved to go in just a goal in arrears.
Half Time: Town 0 Coventry City 1
Turner introduced Main at the break in a bid to add more firepower to Town’s attack with fellow Boro loanee Reach the man to make way.
But Shrewsbury were almost caught out immediately. Wilson unselfishly laid the ball off for Clarke who looked certain to plunder Cov’s second. But he had reckoned without the intervention of big Darren Jones who got in a superb block to deny the City frontman as he pulled the trigger.
How pivotal that tackle was because within 60 seconds Shrews restored parity. Main’s first touch was a belter as he sent over a wonderfully inviting cross into the box. On the end of it was that man Bradshaw who struck a third in as many games with a hefty swing of his right boot volleying the ball into the bottom corner of Joe Murphy’s net from 12 yards after 47 minutes.
Cyrus Christie stopped Jon Taylor in full flow on the near touchline and received the game’s first booking for his troubles. Main dropped a far post header a yard wide as he quickly endeared himself to the home fans in a six and a half thousand crowd.
Bradshaw had a goal ruled out for offside – quite rightly – with the hosts now enjoying their best spell to date and Coventry’s defenders looking a little more vulnerable since the equaliser.
The game was now finely balanced and a brilliant Taylor through ball had Aaron Wildig in a one-on-one situation with Murphy. In golfing terms, the midfielder took the first time sand wedge option, but ended up with a nine-iron chip instead, and the ball sailed harmlessly over the top. Right idea. Wrong execution. It was a superb opening for Turner’s side and should have been taken.
There was an uncomfortable moment for Weale when Clarke’s 25 yard free kick bounced right in front of him but the Town stopper did just enough to spoon the ball out of harm’s way. Then Christie’s low ball in just eluded Wilson who was a studs length away from connecting unmarked and just 6 yards from goal to let Town off the hook.
Town had been much more competitive since the break and it was hard to pick a clear winner. They had an unbeaten home record to protect and looked in no kind of mood to give it up easily.
Indeed, Bradshaw straying offside from a superb Wildig pass quickly curtailed any goal celebrations once he’d deftly lifted the ball over Murphy. Again though, the linesman on the far side got his decision spot-on.
Mkandawire then popped up at the near post to shepherd Wilson’s dink over Weale to safety, and the corner again was defended superbly.
Taylor was causing mayhem and Conor Thomas became the second Cov player booked for cynically stopping the Town man in full flight.
From the free-kick Main’s looping header saw Murphy back-pedal to turn the ball over the top as Shrewsbury continued to apply the pressure. Coventry’s defenders were now the ones being asked to work the hardest.
Weale did well to save sub Billy Daniels low shot just as the fourth official put three minutes up on the board, and then cut out Fleck’s delivery low at the near post with Coventry finishing the game well.
In the end then, another point for Salop who did really well to come back into a game that had looked beyond them at the halfway stage.
Full Time: Town 1 Coventry City 1