Town 1 Colchester United 1
Town: Chris Weale, Tamika Mkandawire (c), Joe Jacobson, Dave Winfield, Ryan Woods, Adam Reach, Luke Summerfield (Goldson, 55), Cristian Lopez (Parry, 66), Aaron Wildig, Liam McAlinden (Bradshaw, 66), Jon Taylor
Substitutes: Joe Anyon, Alex McQuade, Darren Jones, Dave McAllister
Colchester United: Sam Walker, David Wright (Bonne, 86), Magnus Okuonghae, Clinton Morrison, Freddie Sears (Eastmond, 29), Marcus Bean, Brian Wilson (c), Gavin Massey, Alex Gilbie, Luke Garbett, Elliott Lee (Monakana, 73)
Substitutes: Mark Cousins, Ryan Dixon, Andrew Bond, Freddie Ladopo
Referee: Darren Drysdale
Assistants: Amy Fearn & Daniel Meeson
Fourth Official: Michael D’Aguilar
Attendance: 4,364 (112 from Colchester)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Graham Turner made three changes to the side which went down narrowly at Peterborough on Saturday. Luke Summerfield replaced Dave McAllister after recovering from his groin injury, whilst Adam Reach was preferred to Paul Parry down the left. And top scorer Tom Bradshaw was relegated to the bench with Liam McAlinden handed a first start.
There was a sparse crowd inside the Meadow including a hardy band of around a hundred or so who had made the long trip from Essex, hoping to see a first win in 11 matches.
With little more than 90 seconds on the watch Summerfield went close with an ambitious over the shoulder volley from a half-cleared free kick which brought U’s keeper Sam Walker into very early action. But just a minute later he was left helpless as Salop constructed a goal of real simplicity. Reach was afforded the freedom of Shropshire to roam into the danger zone and his cross was bulleted high into the net from close range off the head of Cristian Lopez for a first in Town colours for him.
The same two players were to link again 20 minutes later – but this time to less devastating effect. Reach was having a smashing game and when he played in Lopez, the striker opted to take an unnecessary touch to set himself on his favoured left foot. The idea was alright; the execution less so and it arced well away from its intended target.
Still, Shrews were playing really well with good ball retention, clever movement and slick passing, all contributory factors in keeping Joe Dunne’s lads pegged back for large parts of the game. The two sides had come into the match with identical records but based on the first half hour, there was only one team playing all the football. Lopez tested Walker with a daisy cutter and Jon Taylor brought another flying save from United’s number one as Town kept their foot to the floor in search of a second. Meanwhile, at the other end Chris Weale was so far enjoying the night off.
Summerfield showed great technique to arrow another superb strike towards the top corner with Walker rooted to the spot, but the midfielder was a shade unfortunate to see his 41st minute enterprise bend a fraction wide.
Make no mistake, Town were full value for a bigger lead but two minutes before the break Marcus Bean saw his angled shot squirm agonisingly through Weale’s gloves and into the bottom corner. The Town stopper’s first bit of action was to pick the ball out of his net and he won’t need anyone to remind him that he ought to have been going down the tunnel with a half-time clean sheet banked.
Half Time: Town 1 Colchester United 1
Town begun the second half attacking the Salop Leisure Stand doubtless still wondering how they had only managed to go in level at the midway stage, such was their dominance of the opening 45.
Shrewsbury made their first change 10 minutes into the half with Connor Goldson introduced for Summerfield. Goldson slotted in a right back with Ryan Woods moved forward to partner Aaron Wildig in the centre of the park.
Substitute Craig Eastmond had two swings of his banana yellow boots in quick succession as the visitors enjoyed a very brief spell of pressure with Town still struggling to recover from the setback of that late first half equaliser.
On 66 minutes Turner made a double change with Bradshaw replacing McAlinden and Parry introduced for goalscorer Lopez. It certainly needed something to spark Shrews into life as they continued to labour, with the intensity of their play nowhere near the levels set in the first half. Indeed, it was the turn of Walker in the Colchester goal to have a rest with nothing to trouble him since the turnaround. Taylor did waste a great chance following good play from Goldson with 15 minutes left but once again the keeper wasn’t tested.
In fairness to the away side they had worked much harder and pressed Town higher up the pitch so the supply line wasn’t being fed. As a consequence the possession stats for the home side were taking a bit of a shoeing and it was a much more even contest – even if the quality wasn’t quite there.
Joe Jacobson curled a 25 yard set piece a yard wide and Taylor deserved better than to see a really intelligent pull back from the dead-ball line evade everyone in a blue jersey.
Both games saw the points shared last season and this season’s draw specialists looked all set to record a seventh entry into the draw column with less than five minutes remaining.
A couple of late head knocks coupled with a plethora of changes should have led to a lot more than three additional minutes. But they came and went without incident on a night where Town could have had so much more to show for their endeavours.
Full Time: Town 1 Colchester United 1