Under-18s edge out second-placed side
Shrewsbury Town’s youth team won a thrilling game at second-placed Rochdale in the Football League Youth Alliance – North West league on Saturday.
A win for the Dale would have seen them move top of the table, but Town scored five goals at Stainton Park, the home of Radcliffe Borough Football Club, to pick up their first away league win of the season.
Striker Kaiman Anderson netted twice in the first half, either side of a Joe Kenton strike, while Nathan Millis and substitute Ethan Jones added further goals in the second half.
All four or Rochdale’s goals came from striker James Hooper, although they were unable to take anything from the match after clawing their way back from 5-2 down to 5-4 late on.
Head of academy coaching Ian Dawes made five changes to the side which drew 3-3 at Blackpool in the preceding weekend.
Jack Butts, Callum Roberts, Ben Burton, Joel Carta and Jordan Wilson all dropped out of the starting line-up for Ryan Hickman, Ryan Sears, Nathan Millis, George Hughes and Tom King.
It took Town just two minutes to take the lead at Stainton Park, after Alex Ashton had pulled off a save at the other end, as Anderson got in behind the Dale defence on the inside left and went around goalkeeper Rhys Lovett before squeezing the ball in from a tight angle.
The young Shrews were unfortunate not to double their lead a minute later when Ryan Hickman turned and fired against the crossbar from inside the penalty area following a corner.
Town continued their assault on the Rochdale goal in the opening stages and midfielder Josh Ginnelly broke in behind their defence on the inside left and looked to lob the goalkeeper, but the effort flew over.
However, Dawes’ side doubled their lead in the 18th minute when Ginnelly slid the ball through for Kenton on the inside left before the latter fired a curled effort off his left foot into the top left corner from over 20 yards out.
Town were pegged back to 2-1 four minutes later, though, when the referee harshly awarded a penalty for handball against Millis despite the defender having his back turned when the ball struck his arm.
Hooper stepped up to fire the resulting spot-kick into the bottom right corner, sending Ashton in goal the wrong way.
Town restored their two-goal advantage barely a minute later, however, as Anderson planted a header past Lovett when free inside the box from Alex Fletcher’s cross on the right.
At the other end, Ashton had to get his full body behind a long-range strike from Nyal Bell.
Dawes was forced into one change before the end of the first period as defender Ben Burton came on for the injured Ryan Sears, and Town remained two goals in front at the break.
HALF-TIME: Rochdale 1-3 Shrewsbury Town
The young Shrews were pegged back again seven minutes into the second period as Rochdale were awarded their second penalty of the game – again controversially.
And Hooper again stepped up to convert the spot-kick as he picked out the bottom left corner and sent Ashton the wrong way.
Brandon Smalley saw a low strike whistle past the left post for Rochdale as they looked for an equaliser on the hour mark.
But Town restored their two-goal advantage once again when Millis collected the ball out on the left wing and fired in a deep cross which ended up lobbing Lovett and landing in the net at the far corner.
There were bookings for either side in the final 20 minutes of the match, with both Town’s Hickman and Dale’s Kisimba Kisimba being shown a yellow card.
And Dawes’ side looked to have had the game sealed when substitute Wilson followed Ashton’s long kick in behind the Rochdale defence and slid the ball beyond Lovett when one on one with the goalkeeper.
But the hosts dug in and pulled one back in the 87th minute as Hooper tapped in for his hat-trick.
The referee then played eight minutes of added time at the end of the game and Dale found another as Hooper got his fourth by firing in from the left side of the box.
In the end, Town held on to pick up a much-needed victory and climb one place up the Youth Alliance – North West league table.
FULL-TIME: Rochdale 4-5 Shrewsbury Town
: Alex Ashton (GK); Ryan Hickman, Callum Grogan, Ryan Sears (Ben Burton, 40’), Nathan Millis (Jack Butts, 83’), Joe Kenton (Jordan Wilson, 71’), Alex Fletcher, George Hughes, Tom King, Josh Ginnelly, Kaiman Anderson.SHREWSBURY TOWN LINE-UP
UNUSED SUBS: Joel Carta, George Hassall.
BOOKED: Hickman (73’).
GOALS: Anderson (2’, 24’), Kenton (18’), Millis (67’), Wilson (82’).
: Rhys Lovett (GK); Abayomi Samuels, Callum Schorah, Connor Cowan-Thompson, Andrew Hollins, Kisimba Kisimba, Brandon Smalley, Billy Hasler-Cregg, Nyal Bell (Dominic Reid), Harry Pratt, James Hooper.ROCHDALE LINE-UP
GOALS: Hooper (Pen 23’, Pen 55’, 87’, 90+5’).
UNUSED SUBS: Tyler Berry, Jordan Prescott, Jack Stewart.
BOOKED: Kisimba Kisimba (76’).
: Mr P. Wilcox.REFEREE
Assistants: Mr G. Fara and Mr S. Coop.
: Shrewsbury Town v Wrexham (Football League Youth Alliance – North West league, Shrewsbury Sports Village, 11am kick-off).NEXT FIXTURE
.CLICK HERETo see a full album of photographs from the game,