Shrewsbury Town 2-1 Bristol Rovers: Ex-Gas man haunts but Boro striker ends goalless run
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Bristol Rovers were made to rue their profligacy as they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Shrewsbury Town at the New Meadow.
Josh Coburn's first goal in 19 games, and three months was not enough after the Shrews opened the scoring. Luke Leahy scored against his former employers inside two minutes with a header and then on-loan Crystal Palace striker Rob Street doubled the lead for Steve Cotterill's side.
Joey Barton's side had a majority of the chances, but Shrewsbury scored from their two shots on target, but the Gas will have been aggrieved at several penalty appeals which went amiss. The defeat keeps Rovers in 15th, and they can now achieve at most a 14th-placed finish, whilst they can finish as low as 17th depending on their result against Bolton Wanderers on Sunday.
Shrewsbury put pressure on in the opening minutes and conceded from the first meaningful attack. Former Rovers man Leahy jostled past Jarell Quansah and beat Balcombe with a header, and opted to celebrate in front of the away supporters.
Rovers searched for a response and almost found one John Marquis fed a pass through to Grant Ward but Tom Flanagan blocked it to deflect wide. A second chance followed when Ryan Loft flicked a header wide from a James Gibbons cross.
A major flashpoint came Josh Coburn went down under the challenge of Cheyenne Dunkley who was carded but there was complaints that he was fouled inside the box but it was only a free-kick. Finley drove a shot and Leahy blocked it. Coburn went down again but there was nothing given.
As the first-half drew to its conclusion, another contentious decision went against Rovers. Dunkley had his arms around Coburn but protestations were waved away.
Early in the second-half, Rovers had all the possession but it was the hosts who scored the all important second goal. On-loan Crystal Palace striker Street glided past Quansah and slid home his shot past Balcombe.
Shrewsbury’s second prompted Joey Barton to make five changes all in one swoop. Scott Sinclair, Luca Hoole, Antony Evans, Calum MacDonald and Aaron Collins all entered the pitch, but Hoole was quickly shown a yellow card.
Rovers got themselves back to within one through Coburn. Scott Sinclair’s cross hit the crossbar and after Marko Marosi flapped at it, Coburn tucked it in to an empty net.
Coburn’s goal brought a continued spell of pressure and Antony Evans’ free-kick deflected over Marosi’s bar. The Middlesbrough loanee nearly doubled his tally after Collins ran at speed to feed in the striker but his shot was blocked by the goalkeeper.
Lewis Gibson crossed in for substitute Hoole but his free-header missed the target. Rovers forced Marosi into work with five minutes remaining as Ward swept a shot that the goalkeeper had to palm away.
Rovers continued to cause problem and had another penalty appeal turned down when Collin went down when Flanagan was grabbing him. The referee held firm and so did Shrewsbury who despite the second-half onslaught held on for maximum points.
Shrewsbury Town (3-4–1-2): Marosi, Flanagan, Dunkley, Moore; Bennett, Winchester, Leahy, Shipley, Phillips, Street (Rekeil Pyke, 78), Bowman.
Goals: Luke Leahy 2, Rob Street 53’
Yellow Cards: Chey Dunkley 23, Jordan Shipley 36, Carl Winchester 60, Killian Phillips 65’
Bristol Rovers (4-3-1-2): Ellery Balcombe, James Gibbons (Luca Hoole, 56), Jarell Quansah, Lewis Gibson, Lewis Gordon (Calum MacDonald, 56), Sam Finley, Lamare Bogarde (Scott Sinclair, 56), Grant Ward; John Marquis (Antony Evans, 56), Ryan Loft (Aaron Collins, 56), and Josh Coburn.
Goals: Josh Coburn 70’
Yellow Cards: Luca Hoole 58, Aaron Collins 81’