Town v RochdaleTown: Leutwiler; Grimmer, Nsiala, Sadler ©, Brown; Whalley (78), Morris (90+1), Deegan, Rodman; Dodds; Payne (66).
Subs: Halstead, Humphrys (66), Smith, Yates (90+1), Ladapo (78), Leitch-Smith, El-Abd.
Rochdale: Logan; Rafferty, McGahey, McNulty, Andrew; Lund (59), Camps, Rathbone (67); McDermott (51), Henderson ©, Mendez-Laing.
Subs: Wilson, Vincenti, Noble-Lazarus (51), Keane (59), Davies (67), Allen, Kitching.
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Assistants: Peter Gibbons and Iain Siddall
Fourth Official: Paul Graham
Attendance: 5002 (356)
Stefan Payne’s first Shrewsbury Town goal secured a crucial three points as Paul Hurst’s side lifted themselves out of the League One relegation zone with a 1-0 win over Rochdale.
The striker raised the roof at the Greenhous Meadow as he capped off a battling performance with the only goal after 16 minutes to earn Town a first win in seven league games.
Rochdale struggled to handle Payne from the start, and he nearly had a chance early on after Louis Dodds’ flick-on found him in space but his effort was deflected away from goal.
Bryn Morris came closer on 13 minutes as he showed fantastic technique with a half volley but the strike flew just wide.
It didn’t take Town long to make an impact on the scoresheet though as Payne’s impressive work rate forced an error from Calvin Andrew, who slipped and let the striker through on goal.
One-on-one with Conrad Logan, the on-loan Barnsley forward showed great composure and a cool finish to slide Town in front just after the quarter hour mark.
Town were perhaps fortunate to not be pegged back immediately, and Jayson Leutwiler will have been relieved to see the assistant referee’s flag after his fumble from former loanee Nathaniel Mendez-Laing gifted a tap in to Ian Henderson.
Hurst’s side continued to press and almost doubled their lead after Rochdale failed to clear from Shaun Whalley’s corner.
The ball again fell to Morris on the edge of the area, but the midfielder’s search for his first Town goal went on as the volley went marginally over.
Half Time: Shrewsbury Town 1-0 Rochdale
The away side looked to assert their authority in the second half and they kept Town pegged back for long periods without really threatening in front of goal.
Mendez-Laing saw a couple of efforts go off target, whilst down the other end Whalley’s free kick curled wide.
With 20 minutes to go spaces started to appear for Town to break, and they should have doubled their lead when substitute Stephen Humphrys found himself free, but the pass was delayed and the chance eventually went begging.
In midfield Morris was putting in probably his best performance in a Shrewsbury shirt, and he showed terrific skill on the ball to play in Junior Brown, who fired a shot across goal and wide.
Morris was supported brilliantly by Gary Deegan in the middle, and the pair worked tirelessly to break up Rochdale attacks with a series of interceptions.
Rochdale’s most dangerous second half attack came in added time and they thought they had an equaliser when Andrew headed in from Mendez-Laing’s cross, but the offside flag saved Town for the second time.
Humphrys came close just moments later as his low strike went just wide, but it didn’t matter as Town held on and secured a vital win in their battle to keep their League One status.
Full Time: Shrewsbury Town 1-0 Rochdale