Shrewsbury Town Under-18s picked up a hard-fought win in difficult conditions at Shrewsbury Sports Village on Saturday morning.
Salop started the brightest of the two sides and controlled the game before their first clear chance came. Just before the half-hour mark, Harvey Kirby-Moore collected the ball at the back post but his effort was cleared off the line by a Blackpool defender.
This was the first of three chances in ten minutes as Kade Craig went close with a half volley from the edge of the box following a corner, and Kelechi Etienne’s driven effort went just past the post moments later.
Half-time saw Town forced into two changes after both Xander Parke and Etienne declared they couldn’t carry on in the extremely cold, wet, and windy conditions. Etienne’s replacement, Halim Bakre, had an immediate impact and went down in the opposition box in the 47th minute after getting past his marker, but the referee waved away all protests for a penalty.
Blackpool – who are third in the league – hadn’t had a sniff of goal all game and this continued after Shrewsbury netted the opening goal. It was one for the dubious goals panel as substitute Nana Owusu-Gyimah and his marker went toe to toe to try and get to a perfectly weighted through ball first and the ball was poked past the onrushing goalkeeper and into the net for what proved to be the only goal of the game.
Town did have the ball in the back of the net once more during the game after Jamie Spiers’ fierce shot was deflected over the line by Craig, however, the centre-back was flagged offside and Blackpool thanked small mercies that they only conceded one on the day.
Speaking after the game, Under-18s manager Kyle Kirby said:
“The conditions were certainly memorable; it was Baltic out there. We had to get players changed at half-time and get more kit in – it was bedlam.
“It’s a pleasing result. The performance in the first half gave us lots of positives moving forward and in the second half, it was a little bit more difficult because of the conditions but we got the goal and kept them out. Lewis [Needham, the analyst] will look back at that [the goal] and decide if it is Nana's, but I think we’ve had games where we’ve been on the wrong side of the result and luck has gone against us, and today it felt the same a little bit.
“It’s [the solid defensive performances] something we take good pride in, in terms of the philosophy. The backline put a great shift in, they were organised and restricted Blackpool to very little."