Town 1 Doncaster Rovers 2
Town:Chris Weale, Cameron Gayle, Joe Jacobson, Darren Jones, Rob Edwards, Chris Porter (Summerfield, 59), Matt Richards (c) Dave McAllister, Steve McGinn (Wildig, 88), Tom Eaves, Paul Parry (Morgan, 74)
Subs:Joe Anyon, Connor Goldson, Luke Rodgers, Luke Summerfield, Aaron Wildig, Rob Purdie, Marvin Morgan
Doncaster Rovers: Gary Woods, Paul Quinn, James Husband, Rob Jones (c), David Cotterill (Bennett, 88), John Lundgram, Tommy Spurr, Jamie McCombe, Ian Hulme (Paynter, 80), James Coppinger, Paul Keegan (Syers, 46)
Subs:David Syers, Bill Paynter, Johnny Maxted, Liam Wakefield, Emile Sinclair, Cameron Howieson, Kyle Bennett
Assistants:J. Clark & R. Merchant
Fourth Official:S. Copeland
Attendance:4,886 (336 from Doncaster)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Shrewsbury name the same side that started the weekend game against Stevenage, where a late Marvin Morgan winner earned back-to-back wins for the first time this season. Promotion chasing Doncaster arrive at the Meadow with the best away record in the division, with Town bidding to become only the third side this season to beat them on their travels.
Town had an almighty let off after five minutes when a wickedly swerving James Husband strike from fully 25 yards rattled the face of Chris Weale’s crossbar. A couple of inches lower and Rovers would have had the lead with the Town stopper rooted to the spot and caught completely unawares by the midfielder’s enterprise.
In the opening ten minutes Steve McGinn and Tom Eaves both had shots on target for the home side although neither were ever likely to pose too much threat to Gary Woods in the Doncaster goal.
The next anxious moments again belonged to Salop when Weale came out to deal with a David Cotterill free-kick and somehow the ball struck Rob Jones and smacked against the keeper’s right hand post before it was cleared. Within a minute the same combination almost manufactured an opener with the free-kick once again delivered with menace and Jones meeting the ball with more conviction. But although the centre-back neatly despatched his volley, he had strayed beyond the last man and an offside flag curtailed any celebrations for the Yorkshire side.
Without question, Town had ridden their luck somewhat and Rovers would have been wondering how the scores were still level having gone close three times within the opening quarter of an hour.
The ball wasn’t quite sticking up top for Shrewsbury and the visitors were enjoying much of the possession. Right up to the half hour mark they continued to press and ensured much of Town’s passing took place inside their own half. The strikers were starved of any real service as a consequence as all too often the ball went long from the back.
Paul Parry had Town’s first shot for a while but again, although the shot was on target, it was a comfortable save for Woods.
The game had a flashpoint ten minutes from the break when the referee reduced Town to ten men and the home supporters were incensed. Dave McAllister’s fully committed challenge on Ian Hulme just inside the Doncaster half appeared to be a legitimate one but Mr. Langford couldn’t wait to race over and pull the card out. The fact that the offence was deemed worthy of a card in itself was debatable, but when a straight red was shown it appeared harsh in the extreme. From here, it looked like a well-contested 50/50 ball won by the Town midfielder - but unfairly according to the man in the middle. There were few inside the stadium that agreed with his assessment and when the half-time whistle sounded 10 minutes later, the feelings of the Town supporters might have been audible on the Telford side of the A5.
Half Time: Town 0 Doncaster Rovers 0
Graham Turner’s half time team talk would have been a difficult one and slightly shorter than usual, given that the Town chief was waiting to let Mr. Langford know what he thought of his decision as the teams came off at the interval.
At the resumption, Brian Flynn had made a change with David Syers brought on in place of Paul Keegan with Turner resisting any temptation to change his side.
Rovers were without a win in their last five outings but you could sense that they smelled blood here. Town attacks were likely to be as rare as hen’s teeth for the second period with Eaves operating very much as a lone striker since McAllister’s dismissal.It was certainly a big ask of the youngster in only his second start since joining on loan last week.
Weale made a wonder stop to deny Stevenage a last gasp leveller on Saturday and ten minutes in he was at it again. The ball was crossed low and Cotterill – in acres - drilled it back in the direction it came from for what looked like a certain opener.
Incredibly, Weale stuck out a firm hand and diverted the shot against the far upright – the third time the visitors had found wood in the match.
Luke Summerfield was introduced for Chris Porter as Turner looked to shore up an over-run midfield, with Rovers, as you might expect still on top and searching for that all-important first goal.
Town were again lucky to escape when Husband showed Matt Richards a clean pair of heels to advance into the area. He put in another probing low cross which Joe Jacobson did brilliantly to jockey away from Hulme inside the 6 yard box just as the number 17 looked odds-on to net.
As Salop looked for some respite, Eaves hit a sweet volley to encourage them when he allowed a raking ball forward to drop over his shoulder before sending goalwards from an angle. The effort dipped and wasn’t that far away and rightly drew warm applause from the stands.
Rovers finally breached the Town rearguard with 18 minutes left. Weale did superbly again to thwart Cotterill but as the ball ran loose Husband pounced on James Coppinger’s blocked effort to find the corner of the goal and finally break Town’s plucky resistance.
It was cruel on Weale who had again demonstrated just why he’s rated so highly by the coaching staff, and of course the supporters, at the GM.
Morgan came on for Parry just after the goal and it seemed to spark Shrews into life as they found some belief. They came close to an equaliser too when Cameron Gayle burst forward to find Summerfield about 10 yards out but the shot was blocked as a Rovers defender did well to read the danger.
McGinn was substituted with a couple of minutes left with Aaron Wildig entering the fray and with time running out young Eaves grabbed an equaliser from absolutely nothing. To be fair, Woods won’t be in any hurry to watch it back on the telly ‘cos it was a horrid moment for him. Eaves found a little bit of space and launched a 25 yard shot right down the middle but Woods handling was lousy and he let the ball squirm through his gloves and couldn’t recover as it trickled over the line.
Four minutes of stoppage time were indicated but Town’s hearts would ultimately be broken. Kyle Bennett – who had only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes himself - found the corner of the goal when the pace of his angled shot flew in off a covering defender to seal the points for the Keepmoat Stadium outfit.
It was the cruellest of outcomes for a side that had had to perform for the best part of an hour reduced in numbers. If points were awarded for effort alone, Town would have had something to show for their efforts.
Full Time: Town 1 Doncaster Rovers 2