Shrewsbury Town 1-1 Accrington Stanley
FULL-TIME: SHREWSBURY TOWN 1-1 ACCRINGTON STANLEY
And with that attack, the referee drew to a close a hard fought game and one that will give Town confidence heading into their Cup Final on Wednesday night at the Greenhous Meadow.
As the referee had the whistle in his mouth, substitute Nathan Webb danced his way free into the Town penalty area and lashed an effort that rebounded back off Bannister’s near post into a crowded box where it was eventually cleared.
Bannister then had to be alert to dive down low to his left as Stanley captain John Roberts cut across a long-range effort that looked destined for the bottom corner.
Gallagher came close for the home side as his set-piece delivery was flicked on by a Stanley head but looped kindly into Little’s hands.
Jack Hartley, who had impressed out on the wing for the visitors must have thought he’d won it when a long throw into the Town box found its way to his left foot, but the winger leaned back and saw his close range volley rise high above the bar.
As the game ticked into the last minutes of normal time, both teams went looking for a winner.
At the other end, confusion in the Town defence offered Moran a sight of goal, but his effort narrowly failed to hit the target.
Substitute Gallagher produced a moment of brilliance as the game entered the final 15 minutes when he powered a thunderous drive from 25-yards that cannoned back off the upright
Town’s final change of the evening came with 17 minutes left when U15 winger Lifumpa Mwandwe made way for Matthew Jones.
With 25 minutes to go, John McAtee replaced Rammell and within minutes, the substitute cleverly played in Charlie Higgs whose low shot was well saved by the legs of Jack Little.
As the rain poured down and the legs began to tire, both teams made changes, with Tyrone Ofori making way for Chris Gallagher for Town and Hmami coming off for Tom Reilly for the visitors.
Stanley were looking dangerous on the break and another swift attack from Ogle ended with Luke Moran rounding Bannister and putting the ball into an empty net, only for the linesman’s flag to rule the effort offside.
Town came out for the second-half looking to impose the game on their opponents but on the counter, young Cameron Esien found himself in the right place at the right time to clear a dangerous cross from Hartley.
HALF-TIME: SHREWSBURY TOWN 1-1 ACCRINGTON STANLEY
As the first-half drew to a close, Town found themselves an equaliser. A superb corner swung in by Rammell found Hassall inside the six-yard-box and he nodded home into the bottom corner.
Stanley left-back Reagan Ogle, who had been involved with a lot of their good build-up play, went close to increasing his side’s lead when he got in behind the Town defence, only for Bannister to make himself big and force the full-back wide of his goal.
Town’s first foray into their opponent’s penalty area saw Hassall latch onto Jacob Rammell’s through ball, only for a Stanley defender to get a block in.
Striker Harry Blackburn was next to go close for the visitors as he managed to create himself enough room in the box to turn and shoot, but could only send his shot wide of the far post.
Shrewsbury had Charlie Bannister to thank for stopping Stanley doubling their lead as he made a fingertip save to deny Hartley whose header was destined for the top corner.
Town hadn’t really got out of blocks in the opening ten minutes and they were made to pay when Hartley’s out-swinging free-kick was powered home by the boot of Accrington’s trialist Josh Hmami.
Moments later, Joel Bonner managed to get in a crucial interception to stop John Roberts cross from finding an unmarked teammate in the Town six-yard-box.
After five minutes Stanley showed their attacking intent when Jack Hartley found himself in behind the Town defence, but his run was tracked by Aaron Gilpin who was strong enough in the tackle to deny any sight of goal.
But it was the visitors who started the brighter as Town’s young guns sought to find their feet.
Having fallen to a 2-1 defeat last time Town faced Stanley, Dawes’ side were eager to extract some level of revenge.
With several players rested ahead of Wednesday’s final, there were several changes to the line-up with five players starting from the U16 side in Cameron Esien, Ryan Barnett, Aaron Gilpin, Charley Higgs and Lifumpa Mwandwe all making the starting eleven.
With the Youth Alliance Cup Final with Luton Town on the horizon, Shrewsbury Youth Team Manager Ian Dawes made several changes to the side that went down 3-2 at Wrexham last week.
Town had fallen behind in only the tenth minute thanks to a Josh Hmami strike but Hassall’s header from a corner ensured the points would be shared on a wet damp evening in Shrewsbury.
A George Hassall header a minute before half-time earned Shrewsbury Youth Team against Accrington Stanley at the Sundorne Sports Village on Friday evening.
SHREWSBURY TOWN: Charlie Bannister (GK), Jake Kerins, Cameron Esien, Jacob Rammell (John McAtee, 65), Joel Bonner, Ryan Barnett, Aaron Gilpin, Charley Higgs, George Hassall, Tyrone Ofori (Chris Gallagher, 58), Mwandwe.
SUBS: Matthew Jones, Chris Gallagher John McAtee.
GOALS: George Hassall, 44.
BOOKINGS: Cameron Esien
ACCRINGTON STANLEY: Jack Little (GK), James Wolfenden, Reagan Ogle, John Roberts (C), Jack Burgess, Ross Sykes, Reuben Dass, Josh Hmami (Tom Reilly, 58), Harry Blackburn (Nathan Webb, 68), Luke Moran, Jack Hartley.
SUBS: Tom Reilly, Callum Gunner, Nathan Webb.
GOALS: Josh Hmami, 10.
BOOKINGS: Reuben Dass