Points shared in local derby
New academy manager David Longwell made only one change to the side that played last time out in the 5-0 defeat against Wigan Athletic; this saw Jaden Bevan take the place of the injured Sam Agius in goal. This was the first game for Longwell after his announcement as manager on the 14th February.
Shrewsbury made a quick start to the game with Jamaine Turner winning a free kick just one minute after kick-off, which captain James Rowland stood up to take but his cross into the box was headed away by Sam Leivesley. But Town regained possession from his clearance with Kian Taylor able to find Jack Leask, whose header soared over the crossbar. Rowland was eventually able to win the ball back after a period of Walsall control, but he fired wide of the target.
Another chance came for Town when Lifumpa Mwandwe, James Rowland and Jamaine Turner all linked up well on the build-up to Dominic Rogerson’s goal, but Turner couldn’t connect with the ball as well as he would have liked and his shot was comfortably saved by the Walsall keeper. Roles were quickly reversed though and a good passage of play between Alex McSkeane and Tyreece Ruddock allowed them to make ground towards Jaden Bevan in the Shrewsbury goal, but defender Dan Walker was able to get back and clear the danger.
Multiple chances fell to the home side after a quiet couple of minutes, but the ball couldn’t find the back of the net, much to the disappointment of Lifumpa Mwandwe who had most of the fortunes. Jack Leask had a shot on goal shortly afterwards but his shot was blocked by Tom Leak.
The best chance for Shrewsbury to take the lead came in the 21st minute when Jack Leask’s shot went firing towards goal, but the keeper was alert and managed to pull off a great save to deny Town from taking the lead. This chance was followed by a curling effort by Reiss Corfield but there was too much spin on the ball and it ended up hitting the side netting.
But it was the visitors who scored the first goal of the local derby through Tyreece Ruddock, who managed to stride away from everyone on the pitch and calmly slotted the ball under the young goalkeeper to give Walsall the lead. That was Ruddock’s last contribution in the game as the referee showed him a red card just six minutes after scoring. It came when Shrewsbury were awarded a free kick which Kian Taylor was set to take, but Ruddock was interfering with play and a small altercation broke out between both sets of players. The referee had no choice but to send The Saddler off after a number of shoves on Taylor.
Lifumpa Mwandwe levelled the score six minutes after the red card, as he placed the ball out of the reach of Rogerson and into the back of the net. This was the first Town goal under new manager David Longwell. The celebrations didn’t last long though as Walsall retook the lead before the break. Alex McSkeane reached the ball before Tom Davies; dribbling the ball around Jaden Bevan and found his teammate Joe Willis who fired the ball into the empty net.
Walsall had the first chance of the second half, but the opportunity to extend their lead was wasted when Sam Perry fired the ball over the cross bar from a free kick. Chances for Shrewsbury came in quick succession shortly afterwards when Lifumpa Mwandwe made a fantastic solo run down the left and managed to win a free kick which was taken by James Rowland. He managed to find Mwandwe who was looking to knock the ball onto the head of Luke Ward but his cross was too high. The second Town chance came from a corner with the ball managing to reach the head of Ward this time but his header bounced off the crossbar.
No real chances came for either side for a large period of the half. Substitute Archie Elmore had a great chance to equalise when he was found by Jamaine Turner, but his shot went soaring across the goal; much to the dismay of the crowd who thought it had found the back of the net.
Ten minutes before the end of the game and Shrewsbury finally found the goal they were so desperately craving through Archie Elmore who managed to find the back of the net after a great cross by James Rowland. The home team had one last ditch effort to take all three points from their local rivals, but Luke Ward heads the ball straight into the hands of Dominic Rogerson.
Shrewsbury’s next game in the Youth Alliance League is away at Blackpool on Saturday 2nd March.
Team: Jaden Bevan, Reiss Corfield, Dan Walker, James Rowland (c), Tom Davies, Luke Ward, Jamaine Turner, Kian Taylor (Lewis Redding 87), Ryan Grosvenor (Archie Elmore 63), Jack Leask (Ethan O’Toole 63), Lifumpa Mwandwe.
Unused subs: Reece Thompson, Elliot Tibbs.