Shrewsbury Town 1 Burton Albion 0 - Match analysis

Opportunity knocks for Shrewsbury Town – and they appear in no mood to let the chance slip.

Opportunity knocks for Shrewsbury Town – and they appear in no mood to let the chance slip.

The plaudits were ringing out loudly on Saturday on the back of yet more home comforts.

And rightly so too after a day in which a rise to a season’s high of second place in League Two was accompanied by a record-equalling 26th Greenhous Meadow outing without defeat.

But, for the time being at least, landmarks are seen as nothing more than a side issue for Graham Turner and his squad.

The focus on promotion is absolute and, despite their share of agonising near misses in recent seasons, it’s difficult to remember Town holding a better chance of a top three finish than the one which confronts them now.

Twists and turns aplenty are inevitable as the tension progressively cranks up over the next two months.

But Shrewsbury could barely be in better shape, both in terms of form and the forthcoming fixture list which will pit them against fellow top 10 sides in just two of their final 11 games.

The relatively low-key acknowledgement to matching the home unbeaten record of Turner’s class of 1978-79 from both players and management spoke volumes for the unflinching determination to finally restore Town to the third tier of English football.

And it also shone through in their performance against a badly-out-of-sorts Burton.

That Ian Sharps’ 49th minute header was the only goal of the game ensured the victory was never truly ensured until the final whistle was blown.

But while this will not be remembered as one of the more memorable encounters of the season, it was certainly one of the most dominant.

The only genuine moment of anxiety for Chris Neal arrived with 20 minutes remaining when Calvin Zola headed a cross from Justin Richards just past the post.

That incident apart, Burton – who will be desperately hoping Lionel Ainsworth can help spark a recovery – barely threatened ending their own miserable record of 13 games without a victory and a goalless streak which now stretches to 500 minutes.

It meant the afternoon became about Shrewsbury’s ability to break down the Burton defence, but the hosts first half successes was limited. Even though Marvin Morgan forced a smart save from Burton goalkeeper Ross Atkins and Jermaine Grandison and Romaine Sawyers headed just over, Town lacked an inventive spark in the opening 45 minutes.

But the chances flowed more readily after the break and the reward arrived inside four minutes of the restart.

Back-to-back corners saw James Collins first have a spectacular overhead kick cleared off the line by Andy Corbett before the subsequent Mark Wright flag-kick was nodded home by Sharps from close range.

Chances for a second goal to put the game to bed were plentiful as the half-time arrival of Jon Taylor for Sawyers provided the hosts with an extra attacking thrust.

Sharps and Grandison both went close from set pieces while Atkins atoned for a dreadful goal kick in which he conceded possession to Morgan with a fine save with his feet from Wright.

Collins and David McAllister could also have put the game out of reach late on but the paucity of Burton’s attacking threat meant a second goal never looked likely to be required. And so it proved.

Three points gained and club record equalled but,more importantly, another significant step towards a promotion dream which is moving closer with each passing week.

James Garrison

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