Town 1 Notts County 0
Town: Chris Weale, Tamika Mkandawire (c), Ryan Woods, Joe Jacobson, Darren Jones, Adam Reach, Paul Parry (Goldson, 90), Aaron Wildig (Wroe, 34), Luke Summerfield, Liam McAlinden, Gozie Ugwu
Subs: Joe Anyon, Dave Winfield, Dave McAllister, Alex McQuade, John Marsden
Notts County: Bartoshz Bialkowski, Alan Sheehan, Gary Liddle (c), Manny Smith, Callum McGregor (Grealish, 78), Danny Haynes, Marcus Haber (Showunmi, 83), Joss Labadie (Tempest, 61), Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Kieron Freeman, Andre Boucaud
Subs: David Bell, Ronan Murray, Fabia Speiss, Hayden Hollis
Referee: Darren Bond
Assistants: Daniel Meeson & Iain Siddall
Fourth Official: Paul Graham
Attendance: 5,008 (352 from Nottingham)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Adam Reach’s goal 18 minutes from time was enough to land a vital three points for Shrewsbury Town against rock-bottom Notts County. Town had missed a number of chances to go in front but the nerves were finally settled with one swing of the winger’s left boot as he grabbed his second goal in Town colours, converting from Gozie Ugwu’s smart lay-off.
There were changes in defence and midfield for Town – three in all - following the 3-1 defeat at Vale Park seven days ago. Ryan Woods was recalled in place of Connor Goldson, Darren Jones was preferred to Dave Winfield at centre back and Paul Parry returned with Nicky Wroe stepping down to the bench.
The visitors had a terrific chance to nudge in front bang on two minutes and Shrewsbury were indebted to goalkeeper Chris Weale for preventing a nightmare start. Marcus Haber got in behind and as he opened up his body to try and steer the ball beyond Weale, the Town stopper read the situation brilliantly to get down and block with a strong arm. The Magpies have just a solitary point to show for their efforts on the road this season but they were almost off to a flyer here.
Town had a good chance of their own after 10 minutes when Ugwu showed exceptional control to pull the ball down from Joe Jacobson’s ball forward. But as he advanced to get into a striking position, Aaron Wildig slid in to prod the ball goalwards only to be denied by Bartoshz Bialkowski in the County goal. Liam McAlinden was then thwarted by a smart block from Manny Smith as he went in search of his fourth Town goal with Parry instrumental in the build-up.
Midway through the half Notts thought they’d gone in front but the referee was well placed to spot a foul before captain Gary Liddle’s header found the net from a corner, and the ‘goal’ was quickly chalked off.
Andre Boucaud received the game’s first yellow card for leaving Wildig in a heap with the midfielder clutching what looked like a rather painful knee knock. The number 15 wasn’t able to recover and left the field on a stretcher, with Wroe the man sent on to take his place after 34 minutes. Wroe was soon in the thick of things too with a shot from distance which tested Bialkowski but the goalkeeper held onto the ball low to his right.
Twice in the space of a minute five minutes before half time, the visitor’s goal enjoyed a charmed life. Reach’s jinking run forced Bialkowski into another save and moments later Ugwu turned on a sixpence and slammed the ball against the underside of the crossbar with Salop really unfortunate not to hold an interval lead.
Half Time: Town 0 Notts County 0
With men over at the start of the second half, Ugwu was caught somewhere between a rock and a hard place and failed to pick out any team mate offering plenty of options alongside him.
Jamal Campbell-Ryce almost punished Ugwu’s hesitancy when he confidently strode forward to unleash a fearsome drive that clipped the top of the bar with Weale beaten all ends up.
The importance of the first goal was clearly evident and the game appeared to have opened up a little since the break. From Reach’s corner on 52 minutes Jones ought to have done better than head wide and then Ugwu incurred the wrath of his manager with some more poor decision making. In a two-on-one situation and with McAlinden begging for the ball to be squared, the on-loan Reading man took it alone and blazed horribly high and wide of the near post. It was clear by the crowd’s reaction that they were every bit as annoyed as the Town boss with arguably Salop’s best chance having been squandered.
Shrews were by now turning the screw and Bialkowski did well to throw a reactionary arm up to keep out Ugwu’s inventive back heel which was heading for the corner of the net. In a rare attack from County Callum McGregor arced a measured shot fractionally wide with Weale at full stretch and with half an hour left, still we awaited a breakthrough.
McGregor put a great ball through for Danny Haynes but thankfully for the home side, Jones was alive to the danger and got across to put in a superb block to prevent the shot on goal.
With the clock edging past the 70 minute marker, Town broke the deadlock with Reach the man on target. This time Ugwu’s decision making was crucial as he cushioned a header from a Woods cross intelligently into the path of Reach, and the winger’s finish from 15 yards was clinical.
Ugwu might have made it two in quick succession but you had to give credit to Emmanuele Smith for getting in a timely tackle to divert the shot behind.
After 82 minutes Woods did brilliantly to deny sub Jack Grealish who looked certain to pull County level from inside the 6 yard box and you craved that second goal which would put this game to bed.
Woods was catching the eye at both ends and a beautifully threaded pass for McAlinden was only just cut out by the outstretched leg of Smith or Town might have had that killer second. Then, with 90 seconds of normal time left, Smith almost became the hero at the other end for Notts but Weale made a vital stop to concede the corner.
Town comfortably saw out three minutes of stoppage time to go into Tuesday night’s clash with Oldham in confident mood, after stretching their unbeaten home record to five games.
Full Time: Town 1 Notts County 0