Rusty but united performance by Town puts them in the final
Yesterday, Shrewsbury Town faced fierce rivals AFC Telford United in the semi-final of the Tom Farmer County Cup. Shrewsbury Manager Alex Owens decided to field a strong and experienced side which paid off.
Without a game in 5 weeks, Town started off struggling to retain possession in the first ten minutes.
With not much separating the two sides, it was the side in blue and amber that forced the first breakthrough. Striker Charlotte Budd was released one on one with the Telford keeper, who then brought down marksman Budd inside the box. With the Telford keeper now facing the remaining 74 minutes with a yellow card, Budd’s forward partner Katie Doster stepped up to rifle the ball home high into the top corner to give Shrewsbury the lead.
With both sides settling into the game, Shrewsbury looked to enhance their lead and often threatened down their right hand side. With fullback Beth Francis and Winger Charlotte Sewell causing problems, it was the captain Sewell who had the chance to double the Shrews lead when she was released down the line and cut inside, only for her shot to sail over the bar.
In the 33rd minute it was Shrewsbury who had another big chance to go further ahead. The increasingly threatening Francis released striker Budd one on one with the Telford Keeper, but her delicate chip floated just over the bar.
Charlotte Budd had another chance three minutes later when she was this time released by Sewell, however her shot from a tight angle smashed into the side netting.
Half time: Shrewsbury Town 1-0 AFC Telford United
AFC Telford United started the second half as the better of the two sides, and it was Telford that forced a chance to level the tie in the 51st minute, when a well hit shot from the edge of the area was well held by Shrews keeper Beth Cleveley, who had been relatively quiet during the first half.
With the game relatively balanced, it took until the 72nd minute for the next major moment in the game. The ever-troublesome Budd did well to steal the ball in the Telford half, before feeding a through ball to Katie Doster who chipped the ball over the oncoming keeper to double her tally for the day and double the Shrews lead.
With the Town holding onto a 2-0 lead, it was AFC Telford United who started trying to force the issue, throwing players into the attack and nearly grabbed an equalising goal. The AFC Telford United winger cut inside from the left before drilling a shot, which was well saved by Cleveley with the rebound being hacked off the line by Shrewsbury substitute Erin Taylor.
Telford saw the start of a potential comeback arrive in the 83rd minute, offering the trailing side a way back into the game. A half cleared the ball from the Shrewsbury box fell to Telford United midfielder Poole, who controlled the ball and rifled a half volley over Cleveley and into the roof of the net.
With Telford trying to force an equaliser, and the game seeing 4 minutes of injury time added after a injury to AFC Telford United’s goalkeepers, Shrewsbury held on well and possibly had the best chance of the final moments, as substitute Millie Young rattled the cross bar from 12 yards, leaving Telford’s replacement goalkeeper rooted to the spot.
Full Time: Shrewsbury Town 2 - 1 AFC Telford United.
Manger Alex Owens gave his thoughts after the game: “We could see that it was our first game in 5 weeks. The break of games made it very difficult to fully prepare for this game. We knew our match fitness would be poor and it took us a while to settle back into the groove. We now have a game under our belt and can start to focus on the league and get a busy run of games all the way into May”.
Owens praised his side on how mature they played: “It’s a great feeling being in the final for staff and players. I'm extremely proud of how the players dug in deep and saw the game out”.
Captain Sewell gave her reaction: “It means so much to us as a team and as players, we worked hard today and we deserved to be in the final. I'm proud of every single one of our girls and I know we will do exactly the same again in the final”.