Town settle for a point in a game that has everything
Town: Dean Henderson, Mat Sadler, Omar Beckles, Shaun Whalley, Abu Ogogo (C), Carlton Morris (Lenell John-Lewis 90), Bryn Morris, Luke Hendrie (Stefan Payne 59), Jon Nolan, Aristote Nsiala, Alex Rodman
Subs: Craig MacGillivray, Max Lowe, Nathan Thomas, Arthur Gnahoua, Sam Jones, Lenell John-Lewis, Stefan Payne
Subs: David Cornell, Leon Barnett, Sam Hoskins, Shaun McWilliams, Chris Long, Kevin Luckassen, Gboly Ariyibi
Referee: Andy Davies
Assistants: Daniel Leach and Mark Dwyer
Fourth Official: Oliver Langford
Attendance: 4788 (615)
Shrewsbury Town had to settle for a point after an enthralling game against Northampton Town. Northampton took the lead on the stroke of half-time after Shrewsbury had enjoyed the better of proceedings. Both sides were then reduced to 10-men after a brawl between Abu Ogogo and John-Joe O’Toole saw both men sent-off, but two minutes after the red cards Town found an equaliser thanks to Jon Nolan’s 20 yard strike.
Paul Hurst makes one enforced change from the side that beat Scunthorpe United on Saturday. Ben Godfrey was injured in that game and has been replaced by Bryn Morris in the holding midfield role. Stefan Payne is on the bench after coming on for Godfrey, and scoring, on Saturday. He is joined on the bench by Arthur Gnahoua.
It was a quiet opening 15 minutes from both sides as they struggled to really put a decent spell of possession together. Town’s best move came when Nolan, Hendrie and Whalley combined well on the right, but Alex Rodman was offside when the ball was whipped in.
In fact, the most exciting event of the opening 25 minutes came when Mat Sadler was involved in a clash of heads and the Town defender was forced off for a couple of minutes to have a Terry Butcher style bandage applied by Chris Skitt.
It actually took until the 28th minute for either side to have an effort on goal and it was Dean Henderson that was the man forced into the save. Kevin Van Veen picked the ball up 30 yards and he was provided with far too much time and space, allowing him to stride forward before unleashing a 20 yard effort which Henderson did well to tip round the post low to his left.
That goal seemed to bring the game alive and Town quickly created a good chance of their own. A prolonged spell of possession saw the ball eventually find its way to the right hand side where Luke Hendrie put in a decent ball. Hendrie’s cross was met by the head of Abu Ogogo but a deflection took it just wide of the post.
Omar Beckles was then yellow carded when he collided with the Northampton goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell as O’Donnell looked to get Northampton moving on the counter following the corner caused by Ogogo’s close miss.
Shaun Whalley was the next to try his luck as the Town winger expertly turned his man on the right before moving inside onto his favoured left foot, but his shot from 20 yards went well over the bar.
A minute later Town almost produced another good chance as Abu Ogogo strode forward from midfield before attempting to slip in Shaun Whalley but a Northampton man did well to put it behind for a corner and Town couldn’t make the most of two set-pieces that followed.
Town were certainly the side that looked more threatening side and it took a good block from a Northampton defender to keep out an Alex Rodman strike.
With half-time beckoning Northampton managed to get themselves in front against the run of play. Some good work from Boris Mathis allowed space for Joe Bunney to deliver a pinpoint cross from the left-wing and his delivery was met by the head of Shay Facey who couldn’t miss from eight yards.
The first decent chance of the second-half would fall the way of the hosts. Dean Henderson misplaced a pass which was pounced on by the hosts and the ball found its way to Kevin Van Veen on the left side of the box, but thankfully Toto Nsiala was on hand to put in a terrific block.
Town were then denied two penalties as first Jon Nolan went down on the left edge of the box, before Shaun Whalley was clumsily brought down by Joe Bunney, but referee Andy Davies waved away both appeals.
With just over half-an-hour to go both sides made their first substitutions of the evening with Stefan Payne replacing Luke Hendrie for Town, which brought about a chance in formation to three at the back.
The game then fell into disarray as both sides had a man sent-off for an off the ball incident. Abu Ogogo and John-Joe O’Toole got involved in a brawl and although both sides tried to calm the situation, Mr Davies had no option other than to send both men off with straight red cards.
However, the break in play caused by the sending-off appeared to play into Town’s hands as Northampton took their eye off the ball. Town won a free-kick on the right hand side and although Shaun Whalley’s delivery was cleared, it fell straight to Jon Nolan who rifled in a shot from 20 yards into the bottom left corner on 67 minutes.
The game was now there for the taking for both sides but the longer the game went on the scrappier it became. Toto Nsiala gave away a foul right on the edge of the penalty box, but Northampton couldn’t make the most of the opportunity. Meanwhile, Jon Nolan was shown a yellow card for a late challenge.
Town then created a late opportunity when Stefan Payne did brilliantly well to win a corner and Shaun Whalley put in a fantastic delivery that was headed against the top of the crossbar by Omar Beckles.
With less than a minute of normal time remaining Paul Hurst brought on Lenell John-Lewis, the man who had scored the opening day winner against the Cobbers back in August, but unfortunately lightening didn’t strike twice and Town had to settle for a draw.