Goals from Knight-Percival, Whalley and Mangan give Town the pointsMartin Wild reports from Bloomfield Road
Shrewsbury Town picked up three hugely important points at Blackpool this afternoon. Salop came out of the blocks on fire with NKP and Shaun Whalley both scoring inside seven minutes. Andy Mangan lashed home a third with Town in rampant form but far from throwing in the towel, the hosts struck back either side of half-time with Tom Aldred and Danny Philliskirk giving the Tangerines a real chance. The home side struck the woodwork on two separate occasions but Town clung on to give themselves a touch of breathing space at the lower end of SKY Bet League One.
Town made just one change to the side which earned a point at Fleetwood last time out. Zak Whitbread returned to the defence with Dom Smith dropped to the bench.
There were clear blue skies around a sunlit Bloomfield Road as the teams emerged from the tunnel. Once the customary handshakes were out of the way it was the home side that kicked off attacking the Mortensen North Stand end of the stadium.
Town forced a number of early corners and each one was a quality delivery from Shaun Whalley. From the third one in succession Knight Percival put Shrews ahead with a quite magnificent finish. The defender met Jermaine Grandison’s header with his back to goal and sent an overhead kick on the volley past a stunned Dean Lyness in the Seasiders’ goal.
A little over two minutes later, Whalley pounced on some terrible defending and got just about enough purchase on the ball to beat covering defender Will Aimson running towards the goalline. The linesman’s flag went up to signal the whole ball was over the line and incredibly, Town had an early two goal lead.
Blackpool looked in disarray and it wasn’t long before the home supporters were giving their shell-shocked team the bird. Town’s pace up front was causing the Tangerines some consternation and they were looking dangerous every time they ventured over the halfway line. JLAA and Jack Grimmer combined well to create a chance down the right but Grimmer’s shot was blocked off. Shrews were very good value for their lead midway through the first half and Mangan’s effort from just outside the box wasn’t that far away from making it three.
Bang on half an hour Mangan did make it three with a rasping drive into the bottom corner from 20 yards after great hold-up play by Whalley. Lyness had no chance and Mangan’s excellent run of form since re-signing for the club continued. Even the seagulls circling the Stadium looked miserable. Pool manager Neil McDonald made a substitution soon after the goal with the near-800 away fans in delirium away to our right. 3-0 did not flatter Town in any way with the outcome looking a foregone conclusion before the halfway stage.
But six minutes before the break Blackpool were thrown an unexpected lifeline. Aldred swivelled in the box to send a shot high into the net with Jayson Leutwiler powerless to do anything about it and all of a sudden they had a glimmer of hope. Straight after, the Town stopper did well to push away Philliskirk’s low ball into the six yard box - and a good job too or the Lancastrians would have really had their tails up. Seconds later, sub Jim McAlister’s header clipped the outside of the post with Leutwiler scrambling across goal to claw the effort onto the woodwork, and Blackpool were enjoying their best spell of the match by far.
Town still looked menacing as an attacking force though and looked well capable of adding to their tally - with set-pieces in particular causing all manner of problems for McDonald’s side.
Despite Blackpool giving themselves half a chance through that Aldred goal, boos still rang around the home sections as the referee blew for half-time.
Half Time: Blackpool 1 Town 3
Grimmer was withdrawn during the interval and Smith came on in his place.
As play resumed it took a good save at his near post by Leutwiler to repel Philliskirk’s close range volley, and Whitbread had to stick his head bravely in the way of a Brad Potts piledriver.
Philliskirk was soon celebrating with a 55th minute goal to further reduce the arrears. The recent capture from Oldham went past Whitbread and picked out the bottom corner with a shot across Leutwiler. The striker wheeled away in delight with real hopes now of a Blackpool comeback - which looked nigh on impossible a third of the way through the game.
Micky Mellon made a second change moments after an Ian Black long ranger forced Lyness into a sprawling save. Whalley came off and gave Richie Wellens around half an hour to make an impact with Town not quite in the same gear as they had been in the first 45. In fairness, they were now being pressed back which didn’t quite give them the freedom they had enjoyed, especially in that first half hour when they had been so dominant.
With fourteen minutes to play JLAA came close to a fourth for Salop. He took deliberate aim for the far corner but was denied by an excellent save with Lyness fully extended to push the ball behind.
Leutwiler matched it a minute later denying a combo of Potts and Ikpeazu pawing the ball onto the angle of bar and post. Before the ball went dead, Brown popped up on the line to clear away Philliskirk’s header. It was really tense stuff and Shrews were hanging on a bit.
Micky rolled the dice one last time after 83 minutes with the tiring Mangan making way for Kyle Vassell.
Town were conceding far too many free-kicks in dangerous areas but thankfully, Blackpool were wasteful in each of them.
Town managed to see out four minutes of added on time comfortably to bank a sixth league win – and ninth in total – away from Greenhous Meadow. Next up... Manchester United!
Full Time: Blackpool 2 Town 3
Shrewsbury Town: Jayson Leutwiler, Zak Whitbread, Nat Knight-Percival (c), Jermaine Grandison, Junior Brown, Ian Black, Abu Ogogo, Jack Grimmer (Dom Smith, 46), Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, Andy Mangan (Kyle Vassell, 83), Shaun Whalley (Richie Wellens, 63)
Subs not used: Mark Halstead (GK), Scott Vernon, Jordan Clark, Elliott Grandin
Blackpool: Dean Lyness, David Ferguson (c), Brad Potts, Mark Cullen (Uche Ikpeazu, 71), Jack Redshaw (Martin Paterson, 82), Tom Aldred, Emmerson Boyce, Danny Philliskirk, David Norris, Will Aimson, Mark Yeates (Jim McAlister, 31)
Subs not used: Myles Boney, Hayden White, Clark Robertson, John Herron
Referee: Carl Boyeson
Assistants: Michael Denton & Mark Dwyer
Fourth Official: Simon Mather
Attendance: (including 790 from Shrewsbury)