Pictures and analysis of Shrews 1 Doncaster 2

Shrewsbury Town were hit by the cruellest of sucker punches – just minutes after a freak goal from Tom Eaves appeared to have rescued an unlikely point.

Shrewsbury Town were hit by the cruellest of sucker punches – just minutes after a freak goal from Tom Eaves appeared to have rescued an unlikely point.

The Bolton youngster was heartily mobbed after his 89th-minute strike left Doncaster goalkeeper Gary Woods red-faced as he let a routine shot slip through his gloves.

The custodian’s ‘Gary Sprake’ moment eased the sense of injustice which pervaded the Greenhous Meadow after David McAllister’s hotly-disputed sending off.

However, after showing admirable resistance, his team-mates switched off and allowed Telford-born substitute Kyle Bennett snatch a stoppage-time winner with a deflected shot.

McAllister’s dismissal – nine minutes before the interval – set the tone for the evening and left Shrewsbury with an uphill battle against a physical, but footballing Doncaster side.

The Irishman’s studs were raised as he went to poke the ball in the midfield battleground, but he didn’t make contact with Donny striker Iain Hume.

No wonder then that a furious Graham Turner will immediately appeal the decision by West Midlands official Oliver Langford.

Beforehand the Town boss had left out his Stevenage match-winner Marvin Morgan in an unchanged starting line-up, while drafting Aaron Wildig on to the bench after Jon Taylor cried off with a recurrence of his recent groin injury.

James Husband posted an early warning when he left goalkeeper Chris Weale’s crossbar reverberating from the force of a well-struck 20-yarder.

Eaves responded to that shot across Salop’s bow by demonstrating his strength on the ball. The Bolton loan striker shrugged off his marker and cut infield to test Gary Woods with a daisycutter.

But there was another let-off for Turner’s men when Donny skipper Rob Jones was agonisingly close to finishing a long ball after he crept in behind some static defending.

But, with Weale off his line, the centre-half stabbed the ball on to the near post.

Shrewsbury looked far from comfortable dealing with the physical threat of the giant defender, who left everyone for dead when he ran onto Tommy Spurr’s free-kick at the back post and drove into the bottom corner. Fortunately, Jones’ celebrations were cut short by an offside flag.

David Cotterill fired another warning shot over as Rovers did all the early running. The passing fluency which had seen Town fight back from a goal down to take a grip of proceedings against Stevenage was noticeably lacking.

One of their best attacking moments of the first-half was fashioned by default rather than design with the ball ricocheting clear of Cotterill near to the home box to set up Eaves in the other half.

But the 21-year-old wanted one too many touches and was effectively crowded out before his final ball fell down the throat of a Donny defender.

Paul Parry offered the keeper a regulation save but it was crying out for a more creative approach.

Yet Town may have been drawn into Donny’s physical approach for McAllister was stretching to win the ball in the midfield battleground with Hume in close attendance.

The Irishman’s challenge looked worse than it was and he was as startled as his team-mates when he saw red.

Doncaster boss Brian Flynn made a change at the restart, bringing on Dave Syers on for Paul Keegan.

And the former Bradford midfielder was quickly involved when he connected with right-wing delivery to force Weale into a save at his near post.

Cotterill was a foot from connecting with Husband’s cross as Doncaster pressed their advantage around the hour mark.

Shrewsbury defended with persistence and were assisted by the introduction of Luke Summerfield in the middle with striker Porter sacrificed.

Eaves, left alone up front, almost took goalkeeper Woods by surprise when he raced on to a long ball and volleyed onto the roof of the net.

But the resolute defence finally cracked in the 72nd minute. Cotterill skipped in behind and forced another admirable stop out of Weale, but the loose ball was eventually worked out by James Coppinger to Husband who drove into the bottom corner.

Morgan was thrown on in a bid to save the game, but it was Summerfield who was offered a chink of light behind a well-organised defence. Jamie McCombe’s giant frame, however, was in the way as the midfielder fired at goal. But the game appeared to have been saved when Eaves’ shot was fumbled by over the line by Woods with a minute left.

Sadly, Bennett had too much room to shoot on the edge of the box and the substitute’s stoppage-time effort got a helping hand on route to goal as it veered off a blue and amber shirt past the despairing Weale.

By Gwyn Griffiths

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