Shrewsbury Town earn a point at Montgomery Waters Meadow following a 1-1 draw with Crewe Alexandra.
Steve Cotterill made two changes from last week’s 1-0 loss against high-flying Accrington Stanley, with Dan Udoh and George Nurse being replaced by Shaun Whalley and David Davis, the latter returning from the suspension he was handed during Salop’s 2-1 win against Gillingham – their last league game at home. The visitors' previous run-out came at the Meadow, snatching a late 1-0 victory in the Papa John’s Trophy.
With both sets of fans in good voice, the game’s atmosphere was matched on the pitch inside the first two minutes. Crewe duo Rio Adebisi and J’Neil Bennett played off each other well, with Bennett playing Adebisi into space on the left wing. His cross found Scott Kashkett who forced a good save from Salop ‘keeper Marko Marosi. It was not long after when Adebisi was at the centre of action again, this time being the recipient of referee Samuel Barrott’s first booking – the defender’s wreckless challenge on Elliott Bennett fully deserving of a booking.
As the first-half continued to unfold, the game continued to stay open, but Town looked more and more confident which each pass they won. Eventually, after twenty minutes, the deadlock was broken. A brilliant challenge from Ebanks-Landell on the halfway line gave Salop the chance to respond, Josh Vela driving forward and playing a sharp ball that cut straight past the Crewe backline and to Luke Leahy, his low cross finding the foot of Sam Cosgrove who – at the second time of asking – found the net to give Salop the lead in front of the home crowd.
Seven minutes on from their opener, Steve Cotterill’s side were keen to double their lead, with Elliott Bennett’s long-range effort forcing a good save from Jaaskelainen. The game continued to stay lively, with both teams equally matched, and it took until the 35th and 36th minute for referee Barrott to award his second and third card in quick succession, Matthew Pennington and Luke Murphy at the receiving end of the referee’s book.
As half-time approached, both Cotterill and Artell’s men continued their pursuit of a goal, Salop sending a few searching balls towards the Crewe backline to force play away from the Salop goal. But, despite their best attempts, they couldn’t hold on until half-time after Mikael Mandron found the net in the 44th; his effort tucked around Marosi to give the visitors the equaliser and ending their barren league spell.
Both teams were unchanged going into the second-half, the game continuing to be an equally matched affair. With the visitors in possession of the ball, J’Neil Bennett’s effort just past the 50-minute mark came off a Shrewsbury body and was diverted away from goal, the resulting corner amounting to nothing. A cross from Scott Robertson shortly after also amounted to nothing, failing to meet the head of a Crewe player and bouncing out for a goal-kick. Barrott then awarded his fourth yellow of the game, and Salop’s second following Ebanks-Landell challenge on Kashkett in his approach towards goal.
Cotterill made his first change of the game in the 64th minute, with youngster Tom Bloxham being replaced for Dan Udoh after an energetic performance on the wing. Aaron Pierre was booked shortly after the first change of the game, following his foul on Kashkett in the 67th minute. With the momentum of the game shifting in the visitor’s favour, David Artell’s men had a number of chances close to goal – Mikael Mandron’s effort in the 70th firing against the side netting. Salop’s second change came not long after the former Salop man’s miss, with Ryan Bowman replacing Sam Cosgrove as Town looked to take the reins of the game off the visiting Railwaymen.
Crewe continued to have a hold on the game and came close again just after Bowman’s entrance onto the field. Calls for a penalty from the away end and dugout were waved away by Barrott, with Marosi doing well to close down Kashkett and block his effort from goal, the resulting ball in finding Mandron who headed against the side netting. Cotterill then made his third change of the game, with the injured Aaron Pierre being replaced by George Nurse, the Salop boss still electing to use a 4-3-3. Salop eventually started to tip the game in their favour, and came close inside the last ten minutes, Bowman’s header forcing a sublime save from Jaaskelainen as Salop built-up pressure on the Alex backline.
Artell then made their first change of the game, looking to recapture their earlier bright spells and take all three points back to Cheshire, replacing Kashkett with Chris Porter with just three minutes left. A minute later, space opened up to surely hand Mandron his second of the game but was denied by Pennington with a goal-saving challenge. A stoppage earlier in the second half meant come 90 minutes, fourth official Simon Mather indicated for nine minutes of added time – giving both team ample opportunity to snatch a late winner. Town had a late penalty call waved away by Barrott, despite an eruption of opposition from the Salop stands and dugout. Artell then made his final two changes, a double swap replacing Adebisi and Bennet with McFadzen and Finney, hoping to revitalise his squad and push for a winner.
The remainder of added time offered little for both sides, with chances for both sides coming to no avail, sharing the points as the referee blew for full-time. Salop can take positives away from the game, displaying an improved performance compared to last weeks game against Accrington, something they can hopefully build on going into next weekend’s trip to Sheffield Wednesday.
Salop: Marko Marosi, Luke Leahy, Ethan Ebanks-Landell, Matthew Pennington, Aaron Pierre (George Nurse 76’), Shaun Whalley, Sam Cosgrove (Ryan Bowman 70’), Josh Vela, David Davis, Elliott Bennett, Tom Bloxham (Daniel Udoh 64’).
Subs not used: Cameron Gregory, Nathanael Ogbeta, Rekeil Pyke, Joshua Daniels.
The Alex: Will Jaaskelainen, Kayne Ramsey, Rio Adebisi (Callum McFadzen 90’), Terell Thomas (Oli Finney 90’), Luke Offord, Mikael Mandron, Luke Murphy, Donervon Daniels, Scott Robertson, Scott Kashkett (Chris Porter 67’), J’Neil Bennett.
Subs not used: David Richards, Callum Ainley, Josh Lundstram, Billy Saiss-Davies.
Attendance: 5,867 (1,071)
Referee: Samuel Barrott
Assistants: Peter Gooch, Kevin Morris
Fourth Official: Simon Mather
Rio Adebisi was shown a yellow card in the third minute, following his wreckless challenge on Salop’s Elliott Bennett.
Matthew Pennington was shown a yellow card in the 35th minute, following his tackle on Crewe defender Terell Thomas.
Crewe captain Luke Murphy was shown a yellow card in the 36th minute following a foul on a Shrewsbury player.
Ethan Ebanks-Landell was awarded a yellow card in the 56th minute, following a foul on Crewe’s Scott Kashkett.
Aaron Pierre was awarded a yellow card in the 67th minute, following his foul on Scott Kashkett.
Kayne Ramsey was handed a yellow card in the 87th after a late challenge on Shaun Whalley.
Donervon Daniels was awarded a yellow card in the 97th minute, following his foul on Shaun Whalley.