Coventry City 2 Shrewsbury Town 3 - Report and pictures
Joe Riley ended four months of injury hell with an added time screamer as Shrewsbury beat Coventry in the Checkatrade Trophy, writes Lewis Cox at the Ricoh Arena.
The full-back, sent on from the bench on 72 minutes, sent an unstoppable free-kick into the top corner with 93 minutes on the clock after 10-man Town’s two-goal lead had been pegged back.
Riley had broke his fibula and sprained ligaments at Oxford on the final day of last season but returned in the most memorable manner. It was his first inclusion on the bench of the season.
Stefan Payne and Arthur Gnahoua had given flying Town a first-half lead but two second goals drew City level and on the verge of penalties.
James Bolton was dismissed midway through the second period for Paul Hurst’s men.
The Town chief made the maximum four outfield changes permitted for the competition, bringing in Omar Beckles, Gnahoua, Payne and Lenell John-Lewis.
The four were all starting for the first time in their Town spells, though Payne had been in from the starting 11 in his previous loan last season.
Craig MacGillivray also deputised for Dean Henderson in goal.
Roughly 150 Town fans made up the 1,968 crowd inside a notably quiet Ricoh Arena.
Town fans had a first glimpse of six-figure fee signing Beckles who, particularly during the first period, looked assured next to skipper Toto Nsiala.
Forward John-Lewis, who enjoyed such a positive impact after coming on late at Oxford on Saturday, was using his considerable physical prowess to bully the home defence and, receiving a high pass from Shaun Whalley, couldn’t quite adjust himself to shoot successfully.
The game’s first effort of note came, unsurprisingly, through Gnahoua midway through the first period, who blazed over from distance after cutting in on his weaker right foot.
But after an even start the visitors began exert their dominance on the night and grew in confidence.
John-Lewis played the role of creator-in-chief as, on the half hour mark, he threw his hapless Sky Blue marker a jink before crossing low into the box.
Payne profited on a sleepy Coventry clearance to pounce on the loose ball and finish unerringly from the penalty spot.
It was the ex-Barnsley man’s third goal in roughly an hour’s football for his new club.
Moments later Town were celebrating again. John-Lewis, from a similar right-sided position, sent in a low ball than Gnahoua smashed first at Lee Burge but then sent the unchallenged rebound into the corner.
Shrewsbury had their tails up and went close to a third as John-Lewis found the side netting before Ben Godfrey saw his low strike from distance denied following a fine Town move.
Sky Blues boss Mark Robins, Hurst’s former team-mate and manager at Rotherham, had precious little to cheer.
But he was encouraged after five minutes of the second period as Tony Andreu hauled his side back in it from 25 yards.
The dangerous Jodi Jones broke down the left from a Town corner and was given too much time to square for Andreu who caressed a strike beyond MacGillivray, who had not had to make a save, into the top corner.
The hosts had their tails up and despite Ben Godfrey sending a poked effort just wide, had all the play.
They were rewarded after the hour as a combination of Nsiala and Junior Brown brought down McNulty. The forward picked himself up to bring his side level from the spot.
Shrewsbury were rocking and Coventry kept coming. A James Pearson header was cleared by Brown before hitting the crossbar and sub Jordan Shipley fired wide.
Just as Town needed to recover they were minus a man. Bolton deservedly given his marching orders for a lunge on Jones.
A welcome Town sight was Joe Riley entering the action for the first time since April 30 but it did little to stem the tide.
Godfrey and sub Ebou Adams were booked for further lunges as Shrewsbury tried to hold it together, but the hosts were smothering them and the lively Jones fizzed a fierce angled volley at goal that MacGillivray tipped over well.
Town finally gathered composure in added time, with Riley the unlikeliest of heroes.
The full-back placed himself over a 25 yard free-kick and sent a peach into the top right hand corner. Celebrating with an apt hobble alongside physio Chris Skitt. The best way to crown an injury return.
Coventry City (4-3-1):
Burge; Grimmer, Pearson, Hyam, Kelly-Evans (Maycock, 45); Doyle © (Beavon, 52), Stevenson (Shipley, 40); Vincenti, Andreu, Jones; McNulty.
Subs not used: O’Brien (gk), Biamou, Nazon, Thompson.
Shrewsbury Town (4-4-2):
MacGillivray (gk); Bolton, Nsiala (c), Beckles, Brown; Whalley (Adams, 72), Nolan, Godrey, Gnahoua (Riley, 72); John-Lewis, Payne.
Subs not used: Gregory (gk), Morris, Dodds, Jules, Rodman.
Referee: Tom Nield