Town draw 1-1 in the local derby
Shrewsbury Town: Craig MacGillivray, Ben Godfrey, Mat Sadler, Abu Ogogo ©, Louis Dodds (Carlton Morris 75), Junior Brown, James Bolton, Jon Nolan, Aristote Nsiala, Alex Rodman (Shaun Whalley 75), Stefan Payne (Arthur Gnahoua 88)
Subs: Cameron Gregory, Joe Riley, Omar Beckles, Shaun Whalley, Carlton Morris, Arthur Gnahoua, Ebou Adams
Walsall: Mark Gillespie, Joe Edwards ©, Luke Leahy, Jon Guthrie, Nicky Devlin, Erhun Oztumer, Kieron Morris, James Wilson, Amadou Bakayogo, Kory Roberts, Dan Agyei (Tyler Roberts 68)
Subs: Liam Roberts, Reece Flanagan, Tyler Roberts, Zeli Ismail, Maz Kouhyar, Will Shorrock, Mitch Candlin
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Assistants: Alan Clayton and Steven Plane
Fourth Official: Geoffrey Russell
Attendance: 5971 (1643)
Shrewsbury Town extended their unbeaten run to a dozen games in a feisty and controversial game at the Banks’ Stadium. Walsall took the lead on 13 minutes through Dan Agyei’s wonder strike, but Town hit back from the spot five minutes later when Stefan Payne sent Mark Gillespie the wrong way. However, Walsall should arguably have been down to 10-men for a deliberate handball, which saw Shrewsbury given the penalty. The second-half was a quieter affair, but Town had Craig MacGillivray to thank as he pulled off a fine save to deny Tyler Roberts in the last couple of minutes.
After making 10 changes for Tuesday night, Paul Hurst resorts to a similar team which faced Scunthorpe United in their last league game. There’s one enforced change with Craig MacGillivray coming in for Dean Henderson, who is on England Under-21 duty. The other change to the side sees Louis Dodds come in for Shaun Whalley.
After a relatively quiet opening 10 minutes, where both sides seemed to be feeling each other out, it was Walsall who took the lead on 13 minutes. Town gave the ball away in the middle of the park and Walsall broke through Luke Leahy on the left. Leahy played the ball to Dan Agyei whose attempted through ball was blocked off but the ball came back to Agyei and he curled in a stunning shot from 25 yards into the top corner of Craig MacGillivray’s net – giving the ‘keeper no chance.
Shrewsbury didn’t have to wait long to be presented with an opportunity to equalise, as five minutes after the Walsall goal they were awarded a penalty. Town built well down the left and Junior Brown’s through ball found Louis Dodds in space in the box. Dodds attempted to chip the ‘keeper, but the effort didn’t have enough power, so Stefan Payne headed towards goal and header was clearly handled by a Walsall player on the line and Graham Salisbury pointed to the spot. With it being a deliberate handball, the Walsall man should surely have been sent off, but after much deliberation with the linesman, Salisbury decided not to even book the Walsall player. However, Stefan Payne stepped up to send Mark Gillespie the wrong way and get Town back into it.
After a slow start to the game from a Town perspective, the team in blue and amber were beginning to dominate and they went close to a second when Louis Dodds’ corner went through a mass of bodies before hitting Toto Nsiala. The Congolese defender didn’t seem to be expecting the ball to reach him and it was a comfortable save for Gillespie.
Stefan Payne was then presented with the perfect chance to take the lead when Ben Godfrey flicked the ball on and Payne brought the ball down brilliantly before rounding the ‘keeper. Payne took a touch to steady himself before aiming towards an open goal, but Kory Roberts managed to get back and clear it off the line.
Less than a minute later, Payne did have the ball in the net, but this time the goal was ruled out for offside. Louis Dodds’ initial corner was only half-cleared and Rodman scooped the ball back into the box. Payne volleyed home first time, but the linesman had already raised his flag.
It was Walsall who ended the half on top and Town had to make a couple of last ditch blocks to keep the score at 1-1 heading into the interval. Amadou Bakayoko held the ball up well and brought Joe Edwards into play. Edwards’ shot was blocked Mat Sadler, but it fell for Leahy who shot first time and a combination of Toto Nsiala and James Bolton had to put their bodies on the line to prevent it heading into the bottom corner.
The second half started much like the first, with both sides struggling to keep the ball long enough to really make an impression. It wasn’t until 17 minutes into the half that either side had a notable attempt at goal. It fell to Stefan Payne who ran onto Louis Dodds’ through ball nicely, but his shot from just outside the box was blocked by the covering defender Roberts and it trickled into the hands of Gillespie.
Both sides were throwing men forward, but often the best opportunities saw the linesman’s flag go up at the same time, with Payne judged to have strayed offside when he put a chance wide form 6 yards.
Walsall hadn’t made much of an impression in the second half, so with just until 25 minutes to go they brought on former Town loanee Tyler Roberts. Hurst followed that up with a couple of chances of his own 10 minutes later as Shaun Whalley came on for Alex Rodman and Louis Dodds was replaced by Carlton Morris.
With both Morris and Payne now on the pitch, Town had plenty to aim at in the box, but on a couple of occasions Shaun Whalley’s crosses towards Morris were dealt with by the Walsall back-three.
At the other end, Tyler Roberts looked Walsall’s biggest threat and Craig MacGillivray had to be alert to get down well to his left and save Roberts’ 25 yard shot, which zipped along the greasy surface.
With less than a minute of normal time remaining Craig MacGillivray pulled off a world class save to deny Roberts. Walsall managed to get in down the Town right and Bakayoko delivered a pinpoint cross onto head of Roberts, who headed the ball into the ground, but MacGillivray tipped it over the bar at full stretch.
Full Time: 1-1