Town 2 Bristol Rovers 0Town: Leutwiler, Grimmer, Smith, Lancashire, Sadler; O’Brien (80), Ogogo ©, Black, Brown; Dodds (94); Ebanks-Blake (78)
Subs: Halstead, Riley (94), Whalley (80), Waring (78), Jones, Barnett, Sears
Bristol Rovers: Puddy, Clarke, Hartley, Lockyer ©, J.Clarke; O.Clarke, Sinclair (65), Boateng (HT), Colkett (HT); Gaffney, Taylor
Subs: Roos, Mansell, Harrison (HT), Lines (HT), Easter, Bodin (65), James
Ref: Sebastian Stockbridge
Assistants: Steven Plane, Craig Taylor
Fourth Official: Mark Griffiths
Attendance: 6139 (1509 from Rovers)
Louis Dodds’ third goal in as many games and an Ian Black penalty set Shrewsbury Town on their way to comfortable 2-0 victory over Bristol Rovers at Greenhous Meadow.
Aside from the opening few minutes, Town weren’t troubled throughout and they controlled the game to continue their recovery under Paul Hurst and secure a fourth clean sheet in five outings.
Hurst was without five players either injured on suspended and it looked like the depleted squad might suffer in the early exchanges.
Both sides were clearly looking for a fast start, with Rovers striking the first blow after just a minute when Peter Hartley headed Chelsea loanee Charlie Colkett’s superb corner delivery onto the bar.
Just a minute later, Rory Gaffney fired a crisp effort just wide as Town looked to be struggling to get to grips with their opponents.
Fortunately for the home side the Rovers dominance was short lived, and they soon managed to exert their authority on the game with a flurry of their own chances.
Jim O’Brien was heavily involved and a good one-two with Sylvan Ebanks-Blake nearly created an opening, before the former thumped a shot of his own over the bar.
The action didn’t die down after a frantic opening 10 minutes and Town happily accepted a gift of a chance shortly after.
Mat Sadler’s cross caused the initial problem with Rovers captain Tom Lockyer failing to clear, and his goalkeeper Will Puddy then compounded the error by fumbling to allow Dodds to continue his great run of goalscoring form.
Town could have made it two three minutes later with Ian Black’s deep cross finding Junior Brown at the back post, but this time Puddy made a terrific save.
Black then went close with an outrageous volley looping just wide but the home side failed to make their first half dominance count with a second goal.
Half Time: Shrewsbury Town 1-0 Bristol Rovers
Town have looked a team transformed defensively since the arrival of Hurst and that continued here, as Rovers failed to make any sort of inroads after the break.
The first flashpoint of the half arrived on the hour and it involved the Town boss himself as he was sent to the stands after an altercation with Rovers substitute Ellis Harrison on the sideline.
The incident had no impact on the field however and Ebanks-Blake – whose hold up play was fantastic all afternoon – was finally rewarded with 18 minutes to play as his ball led to a second goal.
His pass down the left hand channel sent Brown clear into the box, and the referee had no choice but to point to the spot after the wide man saw his fierce cross handled by Peter Hartley.
Black stepped up and smashed the penalty past Puddy for his third goal of the season to make the game safe for Town.
It was an impressive performance from Town as they sent the fans home happy with three points in their final home game of 2016.
Full Time: Shrewsbury Town 2-0 Bristol Rovers