Port Vale 1 Shrewsbury Town 2 - Report and pictures
A spirited second-half fightback kept Shrewsbury firmly on the Wembley trail as they battled from behind at Port Vale, writes Lewis Cox at Vale Park.
A fine Burslem return for Vale legend Louis Dodds sparked the 2-1 success, as Town’s No.10 - eight years a Valiant - struck midway through the second period.
He then created a chance 10 minutes from time that Shaun Whalley snatched, proving the winner and sending Shrews three rounds from Wembley.
Town had been behind since the first minute, as Christian Montano had Craig MacGillivray blushing at his near post.
Jon Nolan was the notable absence from Hurst’s squad. The midfielder has been struggling with a groin injury.
The creative star was one of four changes from the weekend victory against Morecambe. Out went the suspended James Bolton and Ben Godfrey, while Stefan Payne dropped to the bench.
The highlight of the team selection came in the form of Town’s skipper Abu Ogogo. The battling middle man has been missing for three games after being sent off in the league win at Rotherham.
Joe Riley returned at right-back in place of Bolton, while in place of top scorer Payne was Carlton Morris, who had not starting in over a month.
There was also a place for Louis Dodds in Hurst’s first-team, the top scorer from last season was in familiar settings in Burslem - where he made more than 300 appearances in white and black.
Hurst had not even taken to his seat before the home side found themselves ahead. Toto Nsiala did not fully clear Town’s lines with a header and the ball was shifted out to Montano on the left side of the box.
The Colombian fired a low strike that found its way through MacGillivray at the goalkeeper’s near post to give Neil Aspin’s side the lead. Shrewsbury had barely touched the ball, leaving Hurst looking far from pleased.
The first sign of life from the visitors was an impressive one. It came from Bryn Morris as the former England youth skipper threaded a delightful ball inside Tyler Denton that was raced onto by Shaun Whalley.
The winger seemed indecisive with his finish and was eventually unable to get the required purchase.
Alex Rodman stinging the palms of Ryan Boot and C Morris and Gavin Gunning receiving a caution each for some wrestling were the only flashpoints to warm up a chilly evening.
Norwich loanee C Morris showed what he was all about as Town gave a flash of what has put them in the higher reaches of League One.
The frontman took a pass from Whalley, swept the ball wide left for Rodman and the winger swung in a lovely cross for Morris who climbed terrifically to power a header goalwards. His effort cannoned the crossbar, bounced back of Boot and somehow stayed out.
The small section of visiting fans were more encouraged as Nsiala glanced wide a free header no the half hour mark.
C Morris expertly took a long throw in the box and swiveled before blasting miles over while Whalley stretched Boot from distance as half-time approached.
Hurst sent on Lenell John-Lewis for Rodman at the break but Town’s start to the second period was more sluggish than the first . Vale earned a corner in 10 seconds and Shrews old-boy Tyrone Barnett prodded inches wide. Right-back James Gibbons then shot over.
Town’s boss shifted Omar Beckles to left-back at the break and the big defender’s storming run down the left ended in Whalley sending a rising drive over the top
But as the evening entered its final third, Shrews’ switch paid dividends as John-Lewis rose to head a Mat Sadler long ball down and Dodds latched onto the knock down to poke a calm finish beyond Boot.
Dodds, who scored on his Vale Park return last year, did not celebrate against the team he scored more than 50 goals for.
It was just the second goal of last season’s top scorer’s stuttering season.
Hurst’s men were in the ascendency and were the side most likely to find a winner. Whalley was denied before C Morris could only send a close-range rebound high and wide.
With little under 10 minutes remaining Dodds then showed his creative streak by slipping a superb pass to John-Lewis on the inside left of the area, the powerful forward drilled an angled finish across Boot and onto the post.
It looked in but the ball rolled along the goal line, where Whalley pounced to fire in a finish.
Whalley was the scorer, but Town took in the deserved adulation in front of the 117 away supporters.
Port Vale (4-5-1):
Boot; Gibbons, Smith, Anderson, Gunning; Harness (Whitfield, 63) Reeves, Pugh © (Turner, 75), Montano, Denton; Barnett
Subs not used: Lainton (gk), Wilson, Kay, Pope, Kelly.
Shrewsbury Town (4-1-4-1):
MacGillivray; Riley, Nsiala, Beckles, Sadler; B Morris; Whalley, Ogogo ©, Dodds, Rodman (John-Lewis, 45); C Morris (Gnahoua, 80)
Subs not used: Henderson (gk), Adams, Barnett, Shelis, Payne
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Attendance: 965 (117 Shrewsbury fans)