Lincoln crowned Champions in 1-0 win
Shrewsbury Town: Dean Henderson, Ben Godfrey, Mat Sadler (c), Omar Beckles, Shaun Whalley (Arthur Gnahoua, 86), Carlton Morris, Nathan Thomas (Stefan Payne, 75), James Bolton, Bryn Morris (Alex Rodman, 67), Jon Nolan, Aristote Nsiala
Subs not used: Craig MacGillivray (GK), Max Lowe, Lennell John-Lewis, Abobaker Eisa
Lincoln City: Ryan Allsop, Sam Habergham, Elliot Whitehouse, Luke Waterfall (c), Matt Rhead (Ollie Palmer, 63), Matt Green (Sean Long, 95), Michael Bostwick, Lee Frecklington, Neal Eardley, Danny Rowe (Harry Anderson, 64), Alex Woodyard
Subs not used: Paul Farman (GK), Ellis Chapman, Cameron Stewart, Declan O’Hare
Referee: Gavin Ward
Assistant Referees: Duncan Street & Wayne Grunnill
4th Official: Mark Heywood
Match Attendance: 41,261
Shrewsbury Town’s hopes of ending their Wembley hoodoo and landing a major trophy were dashed this afternoon, when Elliot Whitehouse’s goal won the Checkatrade Trophy for Lincoln City. It extended Town’s losing sequence to four at the National Stadium and attention will now fully focus on gaining promotion to the Championship.
Paul Hurst made one change to his starting XI with a welcome return for Toto Nsiala following his recent facial injury at Spotland. Omar Beckles reverts to left back to leave Nsiala alongside skipper Mat Sadler at the heart of the back four, with Max Lowe dropping down to the substitute’s bench.
Steady rain in North London in the build up to the match might have dampened the supporters clothing, but certainly not their spirits. There was a great atmosphere as Town got the game started attacking the end where the Lincoln supporters were gathered.
There was a strange occurrence in the opening 60 seconds of the match when Nathan Thomas smashed the ball over his own crossbar from outside the box, but the early corner was dealt with comfortably enough.
Shrewsbury won a corner of their own in the fifth minute following an incisive burst from Omar Beckles, and although the corner was cleared, the danger wasn’t over. The ball fell to Bryn Morris who hit a stunning rising drive from all of 25 yards which clipped the top of the bar with Ryan Allsop rooted to the spot.
There was a real concern for Dean Henderson in the ninth minute when he came for a deep free-kick only to be pole-axed by burly striker, Matt Rhead. The shade of the card ought to have been a deeper one than Gavin Ward administered and Rhead could count himself a very lucky boy. The Wembley TV monitors showed clearly the striker’s intent, and frankly, it didn’t exactly cover him in glory. Thankfully, Deano recovered and the game continued with Rhead clearly now walking a tightrope.
In the 16th minute of the game Lincoln struck the first blow when Henderson – possibly still shaken by that heavy collision with Rhead - erred from a corner. The keeper could only parry a near post volley out into the waiting path of Whitehouse who knocked the rebound high into the goal from close range to bring the game to life.
Town responded well to the shock of conceding first and Shaun Whalley tried to pick out the far corner of Allsop’s net midway through the first half, but couldn’t quite hit the target.
At the other end, in this pulsating clash, a run of almost 70 yards from Danny Rowe carried him all the way to the byline, but Henderson punched clear the delivery from the right hand flank off the head of Matt Green. Then, villain of the piece Rhead latched onto a headed clearance and got his shot away, but Henderson saved easily.
Town forced a couple of back-to-back corners just past the half hour and from the second of them they came so close to a leveller. Whalley whipped in the ball and Beckles rose to head it towards the goal, but Allsop made a fantastic save throwing up a reactionary arm to keep the Imps in front.
Once again, the pendulum swung the other way and Green looked to have got in behind. But Henderson had read the danger and blocked bravely at the City man’s feet.
Nsiala received a talking to after barging into the back of the goalscorer and it became obvious that he’d discarded his protective face mask. Then Beckles conceded a cheap free kick having helped himself to a considerable handful of a Lincoln jersey, but Henderson was equal to Rowe’s set piece.
Carlton Morris lashed one way over the top as the half drew to a close, but it was the Lincoln side that went off down the tunnel the happier of the two teams.
Half Time: Lincoln City 1 Shrewsbury Town 0
Nsiala picked up a yellow early in the second half after trying Mr. Ward’s patience one too many times, and then the Town fans rallied their side who forced three corners in quick succession. Allsop did well to save a shot from Thomas with his feet in Shrewsbury’s best spell of the match, and there was certainly a bit more fluidity to their play in the opening 15 minutes of the second 45.
But, having soaked up the pressure, City missed a glorious opening when Rhead fired over a golden chance to double their lead. It was to be his last contribution and he went off to great applause with those sporting red and white favours, less so those in blue and amber who were in no mood to forgive Rhead’s ‘challenge’ on Henderson at 0-0.
Alex Rodman came on for Bryn Morris just after Beckles had fired high and wide when found in a bit of space at the back stick, and still Town trailed to that early Imps goal.
Hurst threw on Stefan Payne for the last 15 but the clock was whizzing round at a rate that looked like three minutes for every 60 seconds that passed - time was certainly not on Salop’s side.
Whitehouse acrobatically fired over the bar before Whalley shot weakly at Allsop who’d had a relatively quiet afternoon, save for that remarkable first half stop from Beckles’ header.
A penetrating Rodman run drew the foul on the edge of the box with Lee Frecklington booked. The big Wembley scoreboard showed 83:14 as Whalley swung his right boot but the City wall did its job. Within seconds Jon Nolan committed himself to a foul on Ollie Palmer and that was another name in the referee’s notebook.
The last 5 minutes passed in a heartbeat, and despite another 5 minutes of injury time, Town just couldn’t find a way through, and the final whistle brought heartache for the 12,000 supporters that had journeyed down to the Capital.
Full Time: Lincoln City 1 Shrewsbury Town 0