Walsall 1-0 Shrewsbury Town
Callum McKenzie made two changes to the team that lost their first game of 2019 against Fleetwood Town one week ago which saw Jamaine Turner and Ryan Grosvenor replace Archie Elmore and Ethan O’Toole respectively. Their opponents come into this match also looking for their first win of the New Year after losing to Rochdale last week. These sides have already met this season in the Youth Alliance Cup which ended in a 1-1 draw; with Archie Elmore scoring the only goal for Shrewsbury.
Just two minutes after Ryan Grosvenor kicked off the game for Shrewsbury, it was Walsall who found themselves in front of goal first but Alfie Bates couldn’t quite connect with the ball properly and saw his shot go flying over the crossbar and into the car park. Shrewsbury’s first chance came one minute later through Jack Leask but he could only force a save out of goalkeeper Ethan Dawe. They produced a good build-up of play when James Rowland played a good ball to try and find Lifumpa Mwandwe, but his pass was successfully intercepted by Tom Leak.
Walsall made the most of a misplaced pass by Shrewsbury and Jayden Campbell should’ve scored for Walsall to take them into the lead but his shot went inches wide of Sam Agius’ goal. They continued to put pressure on Shrewsbury with Agius being forced into a save and denying Callum Nimmo shortly afterwards. His opposite number Edan Sears came close at the other end of the pitch after his header bounced onto the post from a corner.
Town were forced into making an early substitution in the 25th minute when captain James Rowland, who played 90 minutes in Shrewsbury’s defeat to Port Vale in the week which saw Lifumpa Mwandwe, Kian Taylor, Jamaine Turner and Jack Leask have places on the bench, picked up an injury to his hamstring and was subsequently replaced by Ethan O’Toole.
Ten minutes later Shrewsbury were back in search of the opening goal, and created a good passage of play when Mwandwe lofted the ball to Jamaine Turner who couldn’t quite control the pass, much to his annoyance. It was the away team who had the last real chance of the half when Ryan Grosvenor managed to take the ball away from Walsall and found Lifumpa Mwandwe who made a brilliant solo run down the left-hand side, but Tyreece Ruddock soon caught up with him and was able to clear the danger.
Shrewsbury had the first chance of the second half through Jack Leask, and similar to Alfie Bates’ shot for Walsall in the first half, his shot went flying over Ethan Dawe’s crossbar and landed in the car park once again. Shortly after Jamaine Turner won a corner for Town which, after several blocks from Walsall’s defence, the ball went soaring over the crossbar by Lifumpa Mwandwe.
The first yellow card of the game went to Shrewsbury goalkeeper Sam Agius after he came out of the box in an attempt to take the ball off his opponent; conceding a free kick just outside of the box. Town desperately tried to clear the ball out of the box, but Sam Perry managed to slot the ball past Agius to give Walsall the lead. The home team nearly doubled their lead minutes later but Jayden Campbell’s shot was saved after Edan Sears did well to get back.
Trying to get his team back into the game, Reiss Corfield created two powerful crosses into the box in a short space of time but eventually came to nothing when none of his teammates were able to reach the end of it. Jamaine Turner had the final real chance of the game for Shrewsbury about nine minutes before full time when he made a fantastic solo run and managed to find the cross into the box, but the cross was too close to Ethan Dawe who comfortably saved; wrapping up the three points for Walsall.
Shrewsbury Town are yet to win a game in 2019, and face a tough away test against Preston North End next Saturday where there will be searching for the all-important three points.
Team: Sam Agius, Reiss Corfield, Dan Walker, James Rowland (c) (Ethan O’Toole 25), Kian Taylor, Edan Sears, Jamaine Turner, Lewis Redding, Ryan Grosvenor (Tom Davies 86), Jack Leask, Lifumpa Mwandwe.
Archie Elmore replaced Ethan O’Toole in the 77th minute,
Unused Subs: Jaden Bevan, Dylan Downes.