Plymouth 2 Shrewsbury Town 1 - Report and pictures
Shrewsbury Town suffered late heartbreak as an 89th-minute penalty saw them lose 2-1 at relegation rivals Plymouth Argyle, writes Lewis Cox at Home Park.
Graham Carey’s spot-kick denied the visitors a deserved point after Shrewsbury had improved significantly after the break and netted an equaliser through Ollie Norburn’s rebounded penalty.
But it was damaging back-to-back defeats on the road in four days for club with worst away form in the league
Sam Ricketts’ men looked to have got out of jail after a wretched first-half display where they were lethargic and second-best in all departments. They should have been three or four down.
Former Salop man Freddie Ladapo continued this season’s former player curse by netting a poor - if controversial - opener inside 10 minutes and Shrews somehow survived with just a one-goal deficit.
One of the worst halves under Ricketts was put right after the break and Town had a deserved point until Anthony Grant fouled man of the match Ruben Lameiras in the final minute.
Ricketts’ side, now winless in three, remain 20th - now outside the drop zone on goal difference.
The wrong end of the League One table could scarcely be any tighter. You could throw a blanket over the entire bottom half and Shrews were eyeing improvements from the 2-1 reverse at rivals Rochdale.
Ricketts’ men knew a win at 15th-placed Plymouth would launch them from 20th all the way above their hosts and possibly up to 13th if results went their way.
Winning at Home Park has been no easy feat this season, the Pilgrims were without a home loss in the league since December 22.
Ricketts again stayed true to his principles and rotated Town’s line-up. Four changes were Anthony Grant for Dave Edwards, Josh Laurent for Greg Docherty, Scott Golbourne for Ryan Haynes and Stefan Payne for Fejiri Okenabirhie.
Grant returned from a two-match ban while Payne started for the first time since his loan return.
Argyle featured no fewer than five former Town players - a worry for this season’s curse of the ex-player - Joe Riley, Antoni Sarcevic, Ladapo, David Fox and Niall Canavan.
Town’s last win at Home Park was back in 2001. The evening started it comical style as Plymouth walked out to the PA’s announcement leaving Shrews and the officials behind.
Argyle started quickly. Sarcevic should’ve punished Steve Arnold’s decision to head clear rather than gather but shot tamely at the keeper. Graham Carey then fired at Arnold.
The visitors were made to pay for being slow out the blocks and again conceded a poor goal from a set-piece.
Shrews failed to learn their lesson from Spotland and Carey’s short corner for Fox was drilled goalwards and on-target before Ladapo prodded home via the crossbar from two yards.
The goal controversially should not have stood as the ball did not roll over the byline, but Town fell asleep from the corner.
Town saw more of the ball after falling behind but did not trouble Matt Macey’s goal.
Instead the Pilgrims created space at will as Shrews looked exposed and half-asleep. Fox’s first-time volley from a half-cleared corner was well saved by Arnold.
Salop should have been dead and buried inside half hour. The tricky Ruben Lameiras shot wildly open from 10 yards when he should score before Ladapo was inches from a tap in on the slide at the back post.
Carey was the next guilty party as he smashed over inside the box just after away fans ironically cheered their first shot on target.
Shaun Whalley’s fierce free-kick tipped over by Macey was Town’s only threat in a very poor first first period.
Town needed a big response after the interval as Ricketts refused to make any half-time changes.
Shrews were seeing a little more of the ball but they were reminded of Argyle’s threat eight minutes after the break. Portuguese star Lameiras danced past Omar Beckles and Luke Waterfall before Arnold flicked his finish wide.
Ricketts had seen enough and ended Payne’s evening, bringing on Aaron Amadi-Holloway.
Argyle fans were understandably groaning as their side had not been able to make the dominance count.
And Shrewsbury made them pay. Seconds after Laurent tumbled in the box, Shrews were awarded a spot-kick after Carey stepped across Norburn.
The Town skipper picked himself up to net the penalty at the second attempt.
The tide had turned at Home Park and Salop were well on top. Laurent was buzzing across the frontline and, had Shrews taken more care, they could’ve had another.
Argyle looked shot of confidence all of sudden but burst into life midway through the second period and Ladapo spurned a golden one-on-one chance as Arnold made a big save.
The turnaround in performances from both sides in the second period was startling and Argyle were, at times, hanging on as the strong wind made things tough for both sides.
Carey hit Arnold’s side netting via a deflection but Shrews were well in the ascendancy as they got into superb positions.
Shrews looked the more likely but Grant’s foul from behind on Lameiras allowed Carey to win it for the Pilgrims.
Plymouth Argyle (4-2-3-1):
Macey; Riley (Threlkeld, 57), Edwards, Canavan, Sawyer ©; Fox, Songo’o (Ness, 81); Carey, Sarcevic, Lameiras (Taylor, 90); Ladapo.
Subs not used: Cooper (gk), Anderson, Jones, Smith-Brown.
Shrewsbury Town (3-4-1-2):
Arnold; Williams, Waterfall, Beckles; Whalley (Docherty, 85), Norburn ©, Grant, Golbourne; Laurent; Payne (Amadi-Holloway, 53), Campbell (Okenabirhie, 70).
Subs not used: Mitchell (gk), Sears, Sadler, Edwards.
Referee: Brett Huxtable
Attendance: 8,572 (174 Town fans)