Shrewsbury Town 1 - 0 Blackpool | League One | 16/12/2017

A recent dip in results for Shrewsbury had seen them overtaken by Wigan at the top of League One, meaning they entered the game in second position. Similarly, Blackpool's form over the last six games almost matched that of their opponents, they started the game in 14th.

Looking at the team sheet for the two sides, there were a number of names that jumped out at me. Jimmy Ryan spent a season with Shrewsbury (I remember him as a very good footballer) and Nathan Delfouneso and Jay Spearing both played in the Premier League with Aston Villa and Liverpool respectively.

Shrewsbury: Henderson; Bolton, Nsiala, Sadler, Beckles; B Morris, Whalley , Nolan, Ogogo, Rodman (Payne 88); C Morris (John-Lewis 89)
Subs: Riley, Godfrey, Dodds, Gnahoua, John-Lewis, MacGillivray, Payne

Blackpool: Allsop, Mellor, Robertson, Tilt, Daniel, Solomon-Otabor, Spearing, Ryan, (Gnanduillet 70), Longstaff (Philliskirk 70), Cooke, Delfouneso (Quigley 81)
Subs: Williams, Taylor, Aimson, D'Almeida, Gnanduillet, Philliskirk, Quigley

First Half
The first half started in an even manner, neither side getting any shots on target, but Shrewsbury had more possession in dangerous areas, assisted by Blackpool struggling to keep the ball and regularly found Shrewsbury players with passes in their own half. However, Blackpool almost took the lead from a free kick as Carlton Morris got his head to the cross, but it was directed towards his own goal, fortunately Henderson was alert to it and tipped the ball over his crossbar.

Shrewsbury's first opportunity fell to Jon Nolan after being found by Shaun Whalley. In the centre of the pitch, with space and no-one challenging him, he took aim but his shot flew over the bar.

Second Half
Shrewsbury took the lead through Jon Nolan. After neat interplay from a throw-in between Carlton Morris and Whalley, saw the ball passed to Nolan who drove at the Blackpool defence and struck left footed from 18 yards.

Blackpool's best chances both came from corners, both times the attackers had strong headers just wide of the goal.

Late on, some neat interplay starting near the Shrewsbury penalty area saw the ball end up with Jon Nolan again. This time out wide on the wing he struck a shot from 35 yards to which the goalkeeper did well to tip over the bar.

Final Thoughts
This was a typical near-Christmas match - the attendance was slightly lower than might have been expected otherwise, fans were a bit quieter and the weather probably impacted how the teams played.

Although there wasn't a huge amount of goal mouth action, I did enjoy how the match unfolded, both teams attacked and looked to get goals, but perhaps there was a lack of quality in the final third.

The referees didn't seem to endear themselves to either set of fans, with strange decisions and the referee getting in the way of passes of both sides and I'm sure the assistant referee took out a Blackpool attacker in the second half (not that I'm complaining). Also, Blackpool took every opportunity to waste time and gain yards at throw-ins, but when Shrewsbury took the lead they were being hurried by the officials at every breakdown.  As a fan this is infuriating, be consistent and don't penalise a team just because they are winning!

Man of the Match - Jon Nolan
I really like Jon Nolan as a player, he's got great ability and is a tough cookie (especially compared to some of the Blackpool players), taking tackles and jumping back up to snap into a challenge of his own.

He was the spark to Shrewsbury's play and he had the best opportunities to score, but his overall play was so important to the victory.

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