Town 1 Bristol City 1
Town: Chris Weale, Connor Goldson, Joe Jacobson (c), Darren Jones, Ryan Woods, Jon Taylor, Luke Summerfield, Paul Parry (Reach, 36), Aaron Wildig, Tom Bradshaw, Curtis Main
Substitutes: Joe Anyon, Dom Smith, Graham Burke, Alex McQuade, Dave McAllister, Dave Winfield
Bristol City: Frank Fielding, Derrick Williams, Aden Flint, Sam Baldock (c), Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Scott Wagstaff, Joe Bryan (Cunningham, 90), Marlon Pack, Nicky Shorey (Reid, 78), James O’Connor, Marvin Elliott (Harewood, 60)
Substitutes: Elliot Parish, Brendan Maloney, Wes Burns, Stephen McLaughlin
Referee: Tim Robinson
Assistants: Justin Amey & Adrian Tranter
Fourth Official: Adam Matthews
Attendance: 10,143 (299 from Shrewsbury)
Martin Wild reports from Ashton Gate
Town warmed up for Saturday’s mouth-watering derby clash with Wolves by securing another point at Bristol City. Jon Taylor’s goal just before the half-hour looked to have won it for Shrewsbury but Jay Emmanuel Thomas equalised for the home side inside the last 10 minutes to peg Town back, and they had to settle for a point for the fourth successive game.
Graham Turner resisted the urge to tweak his Shrewsbury Town side, staying faithful to the XI which had gained a useful point on the road at Crawley on Saturday.
City came into the game on the back of a 3-0 home defeat to Peterborough United – a side they were relegated with from the Championship last season – with Sean O’Driscoll’s side still awaiting their first league win.
Curtis Main was first to take a pot shot at goal with just under four minutes on the clock, and his fierce strike from just outside the ‘D’ wasn’t a million miles wide of Frank Fielding’s right hand post.
It was hard to gauge the crowd here at Ashton Gate from behind the glass of the press box way at the back of the main stand, but some of the local hacks were suggesting it was the lowest attendance at Ashton Gate for some time. And the locals took less than 10 minutes before voicing their displeasure when a hopeful punt forward from the back landed about 50 yards forward of anyone in a red jersey.
With the amount of rain that had fallen throughout the day in the city, there was plenty of zip on the immaculate playing surface, and plenty of well intentioned passes were pitching beyond the touchlines.
Possession wise, there wasn’t a great deal in it but Town’s passing appeared to be a little more precise than City’s and in that regard they carried a little more threat going forward. Aaron Wilding couldn’t repeat his goalscoring heroics of the weekend when he fired well over from a well rehearsed free-kick, but Shrews were relieved when captain Sam Baldock was wasteful with a pass when he got into a dangerous position down the left flank. He had plenty of support in the box but dragged his delivery behind each of them and Taylor mopped up.
Darren Jones saw his firmly struck shot deflected over and though the corner was originally cleared, it only fell as far as Taylor who was lurking outside the box, but the winger was again too high with his effort.
Both keepers were largely redundant with neither side creating anything but after 28 minutes Town struck with a superb breakaway goal. Chris Weale threw the ball out to Luke Summerfield and his brilliant pass out of defence put Main in acres of space down the right. As the striker advanced into the box he squared the ball for Taylor who confidently stroked the ball into the net from inside the 6 yard box to give Fielding absolutely no chance. It was a terrific break and exposed City’s defence with the sheer pace of it.
The small band of Salop fans away to our right celebrated being in front again, although previous leads held at Rotherham and Crawley hadn’t yielded maximum points.
Paul Parry limped out of the action 10 minutes before half time to be replaced by Adam Reach and City’s inability to create anything tangible was still being met by more and more audible displeasure from the home stands. The half time whistle sounded with the hosts still stuttering and Weale’s gloves as clean as they had been at quarter to eight.
Half Time: Bristol City 0 Town 1
At the resumption the jet-heeled Taylor immediately flew into a menacing position but lost his footing somewhat and ended up losing momentum.
Ironic cheers greeted Emmanuel-Thomas’s long range drive which was food and drink for Weale stood central in Town’s goal. But it was Bristol’s first attempt on target and it had taken 50 minutes to arrive.
The next effort on Weale’s goal almost brought an equaliser but Shrewsbury’s number one did well to spectacularly turn the shot from Baldock over the top.
You sensed a second for Town would all but wrap up the points but City were a lot brighter after a woeful first 45, with O’Driscoll presumably having read the proverbial riot act during the break.
Summerfield dragged a shot wide when Salop almost capitalised on more dilly-dallying at the back and it seemed to be catching as Aden Flint inexplicably lost possession and had to haul Tom Bradshaw back costing him a yellow card. From the set piece Jones again cracked a shot towards Fielding’s top corner but the ball didn’t dip enough.
At the other end Marlon Harewood had only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes for the hosts when he rattled the angle of bar and post with a looping header.
For the next 15/20 minutes Shrews just took the sting out of the game getting plenty of bodies behind the ball in an attempt to frustrate City’s players and supporters alike.
But six minutes from time Emmanuel-Thomas powered home an equaliser from 25 yards and suddenly the home fans found their collective voices. It was the striker’s sixth of the season and came at a time when Town looked to have paved the way to a first away win of the season.
Two minutes later Flint almost got on the end of a Bobby Reid cross and suddenly it was Bristol asking the bulk of the questions.
Four minutes of added on time were indicated but passed without incident and another valuable away point was banked by Turner’s men. It might have been more but keeps the unbeaten run going and takes the team into the weekend clash in confident mood.
Full Time: Bristol City 1 Town 1