Louis Lloyd scores the pick of the goals for Town as they run out comfortable three-nil winners over Notts County in the opening round of the EFL Youth Alliance Cup.
Town: Jaden Bevan, Jacob Bell, Demilade Akinde, Ethan O’Toole, Calum Wilson, Ben Kaninda, Josh Barlow, Ben Crompton, Louis Lloyd, Liam Thomas, Tom Bloxham.
Subs: Jenson Cooper, Theo Knight, Remmiko Harper, Jamie Spiers, Joe Nelson.
Town started by far the brighter of the two sides. The use of three at the back encouraged County but a quick break, featuring the front three of Liam Thomas, Louis Lloyd and Tom Bloxham, forced the away side into some early fouls in their half.
The counter proved to be working an absolute treat as it led to the opening goal for the Shrews. It was Thomas who intercepted play on the half-way line and looked to free Bloxham in the final-third. The ball bounced into the path of Lloyd who produced a sumptuous chip from 25 yards to make it 1-0 to the Shrews.
The home side were good value for the lead and controlled possession inside the first 20 minutes. Ben Crompton and Ben Kaninda were heavily involved as they looked to set play up from the back.
Salop could have made it two early in the half. This time it was Bloxham who made a smart run down the left channel before cutting inside and finding a pinpoint cross to the head of Lloyd who couldn’t head it home from five yards out.
The second did eventually come. Another shot outside the box from O’Toole. The midfielder was able to guide the ball past the keeper after the ball fell to him because of Notts not clearing their lines - a finish of high quality.
With five minutes left in the half, the visitors began to get a foothold in the game. County won a freekick deep in the Salop half and the resulting set play caused some indecision in the box. Eventually, the ball clattered the far post before it was hooked clear.
The second-half start was similar to the first. It was the home side who really looked to press and capitalise on their two-goal cushion. Bloxham looked to get in behind early doors but some better defending from Notts denied the striker a chance on goal.
Salop looked to have changed the shape with 10 minutes played, Manager David Longwell reverted to a 4-3-3 as Town were keen to get a greater foothold in the game and it nearly paid dividends. Bloxham, who was now down the right-hand side, found another smart cross, but Lloyd and second-half sub, Remmiko Harper couldn’t convert once more.
The third goal eventually came after some a smart move freed Lloyd in behind. The front man’s shot was smartly saved by the on-rushing keeper. The ball was parried to the feet of Thomas who followed in well and slotted the ball home with ease.
The Shrews created more chances as the half progressed. Bloxham had his freekick saved, and then moments later he turned provider playing another ball across the area that didn’t find the back of the net.
The game ended with Salop the better of the two sides as they move on to the next round of the Youth Alliance Cup.