Shrewsbury Town 1 - 0 Charlton Athletic | League One Playoff Second Leg | 13/05/2018

After a strong performance at the Valley, Shrewsbury took a slender 1-0 lead into the return leg of the playoffs against Charlton, after Jon Nolan scored a world class goal to give Salop the edge.

With Abu Ogogo still missing through injury, Bryn Morris retained his place in Shrewsbury’s team selection, which had a familiar feel to it, with the majority of the team having been included on the team sheet all season.

Charlton had come into the playoffs on a run of six victories in their last ten games under temporary manager Lee Bowyer. A number of players caught the eye in the first leg when Charlton attacked and on loan goalkeeper Ben Amos made a number of crucial saves. Sullay Kaikai returned to the Montgomery Waters Meadow having had 2 loan spells at Shrewsbury in the 2015/16 season scoring 12 goals.

Shrewsbury: Henderson; Bolton, Nsiala, Sadler, Beckles; Whalley (Riley 90), B Morris, Godfrey, Nolan (John-Lewis 90+3), Rodman; C Morris (Payne 69)
Subs: MacGillivray, Riley, Lowe, John-Lewis, Jones, Eisa, Payne

Charlton Athletic: Amos, Dijksteel (Sarr 86), Bauer, Pearce, DaSilva, Forster-Caskey, Konsa, Aribo, Fosu-Henry (Kaikai 62), Magennis, Ajose (Mavididi 59)
Subs: Kashi, Kaikai, Reeves, Phillips, Mavididi, Sarr, Zyro

First Half
With the home crowd well and truly behind the team, Shrewsbury created the first chance of the match, with Alex Rodman controlling Carlton Morris’ cross at the second attempt before sneaking in a shot that the Charlton goalkeeper need to get a hand to tip it round the post.

Charlton were perhaps unfortunate to not get a penalty when one of their midfielders broke into the box and played a mid height cross in that struck Mat Sadler’s arm, but the referee waved away the appeals from the away team.

Most of the Shrewsbury attack were stemming from the left wing (in the shade as the baking sun shone down), and Carlton Morris played a delightful back healed pass into the run of Rodman, wrong footing the Charlton defence. Despite only having the goalkeeper to beat, Rodman’s shot from inside the six yard box was straight at the keeper who made the block.

Second Half
Shrewsbury got the goal the fans were craving early in the second half as Carlton Morris collected a pulled back cross from Shaun Whalley, taking a touch to set himself up before poking a left footed shot in at the near post.

Charlton presses for an equaliser on the night, but we’re generally kept at bay with one exception as a Charlton attacker stole in at the back post but failed to make a meaningful connection with the ball leaving Dean Henderson an easy save.

Shrewsbury had a great chance at the end to double their advantage but between Jon Nolan and Stefan Payne, they were unable to convert a two-on-two attack as the Charlton goalkeeper made a miraculous save to deny them.

Final Thoughts
Shrewsbury worked hard for their victories over the two legs, but in the end they deserved to go through to the playoff final at Wembley.

Charlton were restricted to half chances in this game, but never really had anything clear cut and didn’t replicate their attacking prowess that has been on display in the first leg. By contrast Shrewsbury could afford to soak up pressure and hit Charlton on the counterattack.

With that all said, there were times that I thought the pressure got to the players as simple passes went astray and neat moves broke down as players didn’t continue runs or that they weren’t on the same wave length. I’m hopeful that this can be addressed in the weeks leading up to the playoff final.

Man of the Match - Ben Godfrey
In another strong all round team performance, Ben Godfrey looked assured on the ball and ruthless in the tackle. His persistent tracking of midfielders was a big part of the reason why Charlton were restricted in their efforts on goal. I also thought he covered for Bryn Morris, who seemed to be sometimes lethargic compared to Godfrey’s high energy performance.

As with most games I’ve seen this season, I could justify a number of players being my man of the match with Nsiala and Sadler looking assured in the centre of defence, Whalley and Rodman working hard on the wings tracking back and looking threatening going forwards or Carlton Morris for not giving the Charlton defenders a moments peace. But once again Godfrey put in a performance for the team that exemplified the ethos Paul Hurst has instilled in his team this season.

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