Town stay four points clear with 2-0 win over Scunthorpe
Town: Dean Henderson, Ben Godfrey, Mat Sadler, Shaun Whalley (Carlton Morris 75), Abu Ogogo ©, Junior Brown, James Bolton, Jon Nolan (Louis Dodds 80), Aristote Nsiala, Alex Rodman, Stefan Payne
Subs: Craig MacGillivray, Omar Beckles, Carlton Morris, Louis Dodds, Arthur Gnahoua, Lenell John-Lewis, Ebou Adams
Scunthorpe United: Matt Gilks, Jordan Clarke, Murray Wallace, Sam Mantom, Josh Morris, Neal Bishop, Tom Hopper (Paddy Madden 60), Lee Novak, Duane Holmes (Kevin Van Veen 51), Rory McArdle, Lewis Butroid
Subs: Rory Watson, Andrew Crofts, Funso Ojo, Paddy Madden, Kevin Van Veen, Hakeeb Adelakun, Cameron Burgess
Referee: Graham Horwood
Assistants: David Plowright and Mark Cunliffe
Fourth Official: Thomas Kirk
Attendance: 5759 (392)
Shrewsbury Town continued their incredible start to the League One season with a 2-0 victory over Scunthorpe. The visitors had only conceded three goals before today but Stefan Payne bundled home Town’s first in the 24th minute after Gilks failed to hold James Bolton’s header and Carlton Morris sealed the three points in the 87th minute with a cool finish. The result means that Town are now unbeaten in 11 league games, winning nine.
Paul Hurst reverts back to the side which drew 1-1 with Blackburn Rovers last Saturday. Town had made four changes for Tuesday night’s late win over Doncaster Rovers, but all four of those drop out. James Bolton, Mat Sadler, Ben Godfrey and Shaun Whalley are all back in the starting line-up in place of Joe Riley, Omar Beckles, Louis Dodds and Carlton Morris. It means that Town revert to a 4-1-4-1 formation with Stefan Payne leading the line.
It was the away side who started brightest and then won the first corner of the game inside the opening couple of minutes. Junior Brown cleared the initial delivery, but Scunthorpe recycled the ball to Josh Morris on the left and Dean Henderson had to be alert to stop Morris’ shot at the near post.
Town then had an early sighter of their own when Jon Nolan expertly flicked the ball past two Scunthorpe defenders before running into the box and shooting, but his shot went across the face of goal and Matt Gilks watched it go harmlessly wide.
Scunthorpe looked a danger from set-pieces and Henderson had to make another early save when Morris’ left footed corner was met by Rory McArdle, but luckily for Town, McArdle’s header was straight at the Manchester United loanee.
After a decent opening five minutes the game seemed to fall into a bit of a lull as both sides cancelled each other out. However, with 24 minutes on the clock Town took the lead. Shaun Whalley’s corner kick was met by James Bolton, who headed straight at Gilks, but the Scunthorpe ‘keeper couldn’t hold it and the ball fell to Stefan Payne who managed to scramble it home from a yard.
There was quite a relaxed atmosphere around the Montgomery Waters Meadow, but the crowd sparked into life when Jon Nolan was shown a yellow card on 35 minutes. The card seemed fair for Nolan’s poor challenge on Duane Holmes, but Scunthorpe’s Neal Bishop reacted badly and appeared to strike out at Stefan Payne in the subsequent melee. Bishop’s retaliation was spotted by the fourth official and he was shown a yellow card as the Town supporters begged for red.
Five minutes into the second half Town had a couple of half chances to double their lead. Junior Brown had done brilliantly down the left-hand side, taking the ball past a couple of Scunthorpe defenders, before cutting the ball back for James Bolton. Bolton’s shot went straight across the face and was recycled by Alex Rodman who chipped it back in for Bolton, but this time his shot went just wide of the near post.
Scunthorpe made a couple of changes as they looked to make a breakthrough. Paddy Madden and Kevin Van Veen were brought on in place of Tom Hopper and Duane Holmes, but Town appeared comfortable at the back and midway through the second half there had been little action at either end.
Town should really have put the game to bed 68 minutes in as Alex Rodman did really well down the left hand side. He took it past Clarke and cut the ball back for Stefan Payne who looked odds on to add his second of the afternoon, but he took too long on the ball and McArdle managed to get a block in.
Town were almost made to rue Payne’s missed chance a couple of minutes later when Mat Sadler gave away a free-kick 25 yards out. Josh Morris stood up to take it and his sweetly struck curler appeared destined for the top corner until Henderson threw himself across the goal and palmed it away at full stretch.
With around 15 minutes on the clock Paul Hurst decided it was time to make his first change of the afternoon and brought on Carlton Morris in place of Shaun Whalley who appeared to have ran himself into the ground.
Five minutes later, Louis Dodds came on for Jon Nolan. Nolan was still having a positive influence on the game, but he had had a final warning from referee Horwood and it was safer to bring him off rather than risk going down to 10-men.
Town had nullified Scunthorpe for much of the second-half, but they almost found an equaliser on the break. Paddy Madden did well to release Josh Morris on the left and Morris’s cross was headed down by Lee Novak into the path of Madden, who had continued his run, but his first-time shot went inches over Dean Henderson’s bar.
With less than five minutes remaining Town put the game to bed. Abu Ogogo forced Sam Mantom into a mistake and the ball came the way of Carlton Morris who beat McArdle for pace before showing a cool head to slot it into the bottom corner, past the onrushing Gilks.
Hurst brought on Lenell John-Lewis in stoppage time to run down the clock and Town did that with relative ease, as they remained four points clear at the top of League One.