Shrewsbury Town 4 - 0 Bristol Rovers | League One | 17/10/2017

Shrewsbury Town 4 - 0 Bristol Rovers | League One | 17/10/2017

Pre-match
With two draws away from home, Shrewsbury were looking to get back to winning ways and at the very least continue the unbeaten start to the season. Bristol Rovers started the game having not drawn a game in the league. Something had to give, but I was hopeful that the town could get back to winning ways.

Teams
Shrewsbury: Henderson; Bolton, Nisiala, Sadler, Brown; Whalley, Godfrey, Ogogo (B Morris 85), Rodman; Nolan (Gnahoua 81); C Morris (Payne 66)
Subs: MacGillivray, Beckles, Dodds, Gnahoua, John-Lewis, B Morris, Payne

Bristol Rovers: Slocombe, Partington, Lockyer, Sweeney, Bola, Sercombe, O Clarke, Lines (Sinclair 45), Gaffney (Leadbitter 57), Harrison, Nichols (Telford 72)
Subs: Leadbitter, Brown, Broadbent, Telford, Moore, Smith, Sinclair

First Half
The first attempt at goal fell the way of the Gas, with the ball sitting up nicely to be struck by the Rovers attacker but the ball looped forward going narrowly wide, just catching the frame behind the goal. It was Shrewsbury, however, who took the lead after a fast counterattack from a Rovers corner. Henderson came out to claim the ball before throwing the ball to Whalley, he made his way to the halfway line before releasing Alex Rodman. Rodman continued the charge towards goal and snuck a shot under the goalkeeper to make it 1-0 after 12 minutes.

A further 12 minutes in, Shrewsbury extended their lead with Carlton Morris heading in a second from a left wing cross. Morris had done well to peak away at the far post before hanging in the air to power home his header. In truth the keeper should have done better with trying to keep the header out, but he only seemed to help the ball over the line. On 29 minutes, a third goal was tapped in by Jon Nolan, sweeping in a cross from Morris.

Junior Brown wrapped up a sensational first half performance by nodding in a fourth goal, unmarked from a free kick, just before half time. Understandably the Rovers fans jeered as their players left the field at half time.

Second Half
It was Brown again who came closest to adding to Shrewsbury’s goal tally in the second half driving into the box before unleashing a left footed shot in to the keeper’s near post, but the goalie stood firm and kept the shot out. In truth, Shrewsbury were able to take their foot off the gas, an keep Bristol Rovers at bay without the need to push forwards... even if the better chances fell to Salop.

In the dying moments Bristol managed their first shot on target that drew ironic cheers from the remaining fans.

Final Thoughts
The first half performance was probably as good as I can remember in a long time. Each goal knocked a bit more wind out of the sails of Rovers. I had thought the visitors had looked a threat going forwards, but in truth they were always playing in front of the defence, with Godfrey and Agogo breaking up play more as the game wore on. With the game won in the first half, Salop were able to control the game and ensure that Bristol weren’t given a sniff of goal. It was probably the best professional performance I’ve seen in some time, so much so that Paul Hurst was afforded the opportunity to withdraw two of his key men and give them the chance to receive standing ovations.

Man of the Match - Abu Ogogo
The vast majority of players could easily have been considered for my MOTM, Ogogo stood out for me by continuing his efforts from the first half into the second, harassing the Rovers midfield and defence, not giving them a moment to consider there options. Alongside Agogo, Godfrey and Nolan helped pull the strings in midfield whilst Whalley provided a number of assists, Rodman and Carlton Morris worked their socks off and got a goal each. The back four looked strong and composed throughout the game. That leaves Dean Henderson who didn’t put a foot wrong, but he wasn’t called in to action that much. Such a strong team showing.

I also want to mention the fans as they produced a great atmosphere particularly in the first half. It was definitely the case that the players inspired the fans, who in turn spurred the players on. One of the best nights for the club in a long time! 

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