Town: Dean Henderson, Joe Riley (Ben Godfrey 66), Omar Beckles, Abu Ogogo, Carlton Morris, Louis Dodds (Arthur Gnahoua 88), Junior Brown, Jon Nolan, Aristote Nsiala, Alex Rodman (Shaun Whalley 66), Stefan Payne
Subs: Craig MacGillivray, Ben Godfrey, Mat Sadler, Shaun Whalley, Arthur Gnahoua, Lenell John-Lewis, Ebou Adams
Doncaster Rovers: Ian Lawlor (Marko Marosi 90+1), Niall Mason (Harry Toffolo 78), Joe Wright, Andy Butler, Matty Blair, Rodney Kongolo, Jordan Houghton (Ben Whiteman 66), Tommy Rowe, James Coppinger, John Marquis, Alfie May
Subs: Marko Marosi, Craig Alcock, Tyler Garratt, Harry Toffolo, Ben Whiteman, Andy Williams, Liam Mandeville
Assistants: Wayne Grunnill and Michael Denton
Fourth Official: Ricky Wooton
Attendance: 7194 (295)
Arthur Gnahoua scored a late winner as Shrewsbury Town went four points clear at the top of League One. Doncaster had opened the scoring on 34 minutes through Tommy Rowe’s 20 yard effort. Town hit back within a minute when Joe Riley unleashed an unstoppable shot. The home side then had the better of the second half, but late substitute Gnahoua struck deep into stoppage time to give Town the win.
There were some quizzical faces in the press box when the teams were announced. Paul Hurst decided to make four changes from the side which drew 1-1 with Blackburn Rovers last time out. Joe Riley and Omar Beckles came in as straight swaps for James Bolton and Mat Sadler. Elsewhere, Ben Godfrey and Shaun Whalley drop out, with Town bringing in two attacking players in the form of Carlton Morris and Louis Dodds. It meant that Stefan Payne moved out to the left with Alex Rodman on the right and Louis Dodds in behind Morris.
After a bright opening five minutes for the home side, which saw Dean Henderson comfortably hold a shot from distance inside 20 seconds, it was Town who had the first chance of note when Jon Nolan’s shot was blocked behind. The resulting corner saw Toto Nsiala win a header at the back-post, but it went a yard wide of Ian Lawlor’s left-hand post.
Town almost caused problems for themselves on 13 minutes when Dean Henderson looked to bowl the ball out quickly, but he slipped in the process and dropped the ball at the feet of last season’s top scorer John Marquis. Marquis shot, but Henderson was quick to atone for his error and gather the shot.
Doncaster were looking the more dangerous side, with the experienced Coppinger pulling the strings and they should have taken the lead on the quarter of an hour mark when they cut Town apart. Coppinger’s first time cross found Tommy Rowe on the edge of the box, Rowe fed John Marquis on the left and he cut the ball back for Rowe who had ghosted unmarked into the penalty area, but he couldn’t make the required connection and shot wide.
Rovers had certainly had the better of the opening 25 minutes and almost certainly should have been ahead, but Town had a chance to open the scoring when Carlton Morris forced Joe Wright into a mistake and the ball fell to Stefan Payne on the left edge of the box, but his shot was saved by Lawlor at the front post.
On 34 minutes the home side would take the lead. Town have probably had their best five minute spell of the game, but Doncaster broke quickly and the ball found its way to Tommy Rowe just outside the box whose low shot rifled past Dean Henderson into the bottom corner
However, the Rovers lead didn’t last long as Town broke down the right from the kick-off and Joe Riley took the ball past a couple of men before unleashing a powerful strike, which left Lawlor with no chance and rocketed into the top left-hand corner.
It was turning into a really end to end game and Town almost had a second when they covered the length of the pitch in under 10 seconds. Jon Nolan ran for around 60 yards before playing in Alex Rodman on the left hand side. Rodman cut inside and chipped in a perfectly weighted cross for Nolan who had continued his run into the box, but his header from eight yards was straight at the Doncaster ‘keeper.
As the game ticked into first half stoppage time, the chances kept coming. A Stefan Payne shot was deflected just inches over the top and the result corner saw Payne head wide after Carlton Morris had recycled Dodds’ delivery.
After an end to end first half, it was a more sedate affair at the start of the second with Town happy to be patient in their build-up. Neither side created anything clear cut in the opening 10 minutes of the half, despite a couple of corners apiece.
It took 14 minutes for either side to test a goalkeeper and it was Dean Henderson who had to be alert to keep out Alfie May’s shot. It was some neat build-up play from Doncaster and May turned quickly before unleashing a powerful shot, but Henderson got down well to his right and stuck out a strong right hand.
On 66 minutes both sides decided it was time for a change with Rovers bringing on Ben Whiteman, whilst Town replaced Alex Rodman with Shaun Whalley and Ben Godfrey came on at right back in place of the goalscorer Joe Riley.
Whalley added some much needed pace to Town’s attacking play and within five minutes of the changes, Town had their best chance of the half. Whalley played in Junior Brown down the left and Brown’s cross found Carlton Morris at the back post. Morris brought the ball down well and shot across the face, but nobody could get a touch and it trickled a yard wide.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes it was Doncaster who looked the more likely side to score. The goalscorer, Tommy Rowe, was beginning to pull the strings for the home side and on one occasion he took the ball past three Town defenders before unleashing a shot which was brilliantly blocked by Junior Brown and Henderson was on hand to palm away the follow up.
It just two minutes of the 90 remaining, Arthur Gnahoua was brought on in place of Louis Dodds as Town tried their best to unlock the door and it was the former Kidderminster man who proved to be the difference. In the fourth minute of injury time Gnahoua cut inside from the right, took the ball past two defenders and shot left footed into the bottom corner.