Town 1 Carlisle United 0Town: Leutwiler, Grandison, Goldson (c), Knight-Percival, Clark, Wesolowski, Woods, Ellis, Collins (Vincent, 76), Akpa-Akpro, Mangan
Subs not used: Halstead, Lawrence, Griffith, Vernon, Demetriou, Caton
Carlisle United: Gillespie, Grainger, Sweeney, Paynter (Elliott, 69), Dicker (Beck, 79), Thirlwell (c), Gillies (Amoo, 79), Potts, Brough, Symington, Dempsey
Subs not used: Hanford, Rigg, Marriott, Douglas
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Attendance: 3,833 (142 from Carlisle)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Shrewsbury preserved their 100% home record this evening as they beat Carlisle United 1-0 thanks to Jermaine Grandison’s looping header just before half-time. Carlisle battled gamely, particularly in the second half, but their misery was compounded when they had skipper Paul Thirlwell dismissed at the end of normal time for picking up his second yellow card.
Town were so dominant down at Stevenage, that boss Micky Mellon decided to stick with his troops despite a third successive loss on the road. However, James Caton took the place of Aaron Wildig on the substitute’s bench.
Shrews kicked-off attacking the Pro-Vision CCTV Stand with the small band of travelling supporters housed at that end of the Stadium.
Town might have been ahead inside of two minutes. James Wesolowski put Jordan Clark in behind Patrick Brough, but Clark’s first time delivery was slightly behind Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and his speculative attempt was way off target.
The next time Town troubled the Cumbrians’ backline, it was roles reversed when Akpa Akpro laid on a shooting chance for Clark, but Mark Gillespie in the United goal made a comfortable save low down to his right.
But Carlisle came close themselves sixty seconds later when Danny Grainger had Jayson Leutwiler at full stretch, only to see his 25 yard free-kick land a few feet the wrong side of the left hand post.
It was a decent opening spell for both sides who had contested this fixture as League One clubs last season. Shrewsbury have settled much better to life in League Two with Carlisle still seeking their first league win, and also looking for a new boss having dispensed with the services of Graham Kavanagh a couple of weeks ago.
In front of the Greenhous Meadow’s lowest ever league gate (3,833), Clark flashed just wide as Town looked to impose themselves on the game and put more home points on the board, after winning their previous three encounters here.
James Collins headed over an Andy Mangan cross but the game had entered something of a lull with little to report in terms of goalmouth activity. Grandison failed to make any contact from Mangan’s corner when well placed and before the ‘ooh’s’ and the ‘aah’s’ had died down, Wesolowski was blasting over the top from the edge of the box. Shrewsbury were spending plenty of time in opposition territory but with more than half an hour played, the away side’s goals against column had yet to suffer any more damage.
Collins was crowded out in the box as he lined up a shot and you sensed that patience might be the order of the day to break down the Cumbrian’s dogged resistance. Town were without a goal in those three previous losses and had spurned a bagful of chances on Saturday. But with half-time fast approaching, there had been very few clear cut openings in this match.
But eventually, the pressure told with the goal coming from the unlikeliest of sources. A telling left wing cross from Nat Knight-Percival was met by Grandison and his towering header dropped into the Carlisle net. The collective sigh of relief around the place was palpable as Salop took a precious lead into the break.
Half-Time: Town 1 Carlisle United 0
Carlisle came out a bit more inventive at the restart – posing more of a threat in the first five minutes than they had in the previous 45. But Shrewsbury defended well, even though they needed the woodwork to intervene when a snapshot in a crowded penalty box smacked against the face of the bar and away to safety.
Mangan was thwarted as Town burst forward and Akpa Akpro just couldn’t sort his feet out when he was presented with a chance moments later, leaving Gillespie to make a simple save.
Town came close to killing the game off 18 minutes from time but Collins saw his diving header turned behind by the agility of Gillespie.
There was a degree of tension in the air with a scrappy 1-0 win just what the doctor might order to correct a mini losing streak – though there was plenty of work still to do before the points could be safely banked.
Mark Ellis saw a header cleared off the line by David Symington as Shrews threatened again and at least we were seeing less of the Cumbrians at the other end. Connor Goldson at full stretch then just failed to reach a terrific long ball from Ryan Woods, before Collins was replaced by Ashley Vincent with just under 15 minutes remaining.
Clark lashed one high from distance as Town looked for that decisive second but few would argue that they had perhaps done enough in this game, to have secured victory a shade more comfortably.
Two yellow cards in relatively quick succession – the second presumably for something he said – saw Thirlwell into the showers ahead of his teammates, and the Brunton Park men had four minutes of additional time to salvage something.
It was nervy stuff with United employing the tried and trusted throwing of the kitchen sink methodology. They had scored twice here late on last season, but thankfully, there was to be no repeat tonight.
Full-Time: Town 1 Carlisle United 0