Under-18s produce brilliant comeback victoryTown: Jack Atkinson, Ryan Sears, Callum Roberts, George Hughes, Joel Bonner, Brett Taylor, Reiss Corfield, Chris Gallagher (Harri Lovett 65), Lifumpa Mwandwe (Kian Taylor 81), John McAtee, Ryan Barnett (Jermaine Turner 65)
Substitutes: Rhys Davies, Wes Garfield, Harri Lovett, Kian Taylor, Jermaine Turner
Rochdale: Bradley Wade, Jack Lenehan ©, Adejuwon Hamzat, Louis White (Fabio Tavares 85), Declan Evans, Keith Kearney, Neil Kuemo, Daniel Adshead, Joseph Piggott, Jack Stewart, David Owusu (Jordan Prescott 46)
Substitutes: Jordan Prescott, Ralph Chea, Fabio Tavares, Elliott Murray, James Neild
Shrewsbury Town’s Under-18s came from a goal down to beat high-flying Rochdale at the Shrewsbury Sports Village. Rochdale took the lead early in the first half, but Town got a goal back just before half-time and then produced a brilliant second-half display as George Hughes and Jermaine Turner scored late to give Town a 3-1 victory.
All five of Town’s players that have been offered professional contracts in recent weeks started the game. Meanwhile, there were four under-16s in the starting line-up with Jack Atkinson in goal, Brett Taylor at centre-half, Reiss Corfield on the right wing and Lifumpa Mwandwe upfront.
It was Rochdale who started the quicker and they forced three set plays in quick succession at the start of the game. Two free-kicks and one corner provided them with opportunities, but the delivery was poor and twice Town cleared, with Jack Atkinson catching the third.
Town were looking to play a high pressing game and it almost worked 10 minutes in when some pressure from the Town midfield forced an error from Rochdale and Lifumpa Mwandwe was presented with a good shooting chance, but he pulled his shot wide.
On the quarter of a mark Rochdale took the lead. Rochdale’s number 10, Jack Stewart had looked dangerous all game and he delivered a wicked looking cross into the box which was turned home from 3 yards out by David Owusu.
The goal appeared to brighten Rochdale’s play up and they came close to getting a second two minutes later when some good build-up play found Joseph Piggott 12 yards out, but his shot on the turn went just wide of the left hand post.
One of Town’s best moves of the half came just a minute before the break when Reiss Corfield and Ryan Sears connected down the right hand side. The latter pulled back a cross, which John McAtee met, but he couldn’t get his shot away.
However, Town would get an equaliser on the stroke of half-time when Callum Roberts found McAtee in behind the Rochdale defence and he coolly finished past Wade into the bottom right hand corner.
Town changed the formation at the start of the second half with John McAtee going wide left and Ryan Barnett moving to the number 10 position and it seemed to help Town with both players going close inside the opening five minutes of the half.
Rochdale had the next opportunity of note when some good build-up play allowed Jack Stewart some time on the ball and his lofted pass was straight onto the boot of Joseph Piggott, but he could only shoot over from eight yards out.
Lifumpa Mwandwe has been in brilliant form for Town’s under-16s and he began to show why in the second half. His pace was a constant threat for the Rochdale defence and he came incredibly close to scoring when he turned Keith Kearney, but his shot from inside the box went just wide of the post.
Rochdale then hit the bar when Jack Stewart’s corner was met by the head of Declan Evans and the ball appeared to be heading for the top corner, but it just didn’t drop in time and Town cleared the rebound.
With less than 10 minutes to go Town began to push forward with greater purpose and Bradley Wade was forced to make two brilliant saves in quick succession. McAtee fed Mwandwe whose powerful shot his shot was palmed away, but it only went as far as George Hughes who unleashed a curling effort from 25 yards, which Wade did well to turn round the post.
However, Town did take the lead from the resulting corner when Joel Bonner recycled McAtee’s cross and George Hughes was inside the six yard box to head home from four yards.
As Town celebrated, Rochdale’s Jordan Stewart appeared to say something to the referee and he was shown a straight red card for his remonstrations.
With five minutes to go Rochdale had their best chance for an equaliser when substitute Fabio Tavares found himself in behind the Town defence, but Jack Atkinson pulled off a fine save to keep Town in front.
And Shrewsbury made certain of the victory in the final minute when substitute Jermaine Turner outpaced the Rochdale defence and lobbed the onrushing Bradley Wade to score on his debut.