Shrewsbury Town 1 Bristol City 0 - Report and pictures
Aaron Pierre wrote himself into Shrewsbury Town folklore with an historic 89th-minute winner to set up an FA Cup date with world and European champions Liverpool.
An incredible finale saw the defender smash the ball into the bottom corner from 25 yards to settle the third-round replay at a euphoric Montgomery Waters Meadow.
The ‘I was there’ moment meant Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League champions-elect Liverpool are visiting Shropshire for only the second meeting in the clubs’ history on Sunday, January 26.
Ricketts rewarded the same XI that played so well at Ashton Gate 10 days ago and named the same side for the replay.
That meant there were recalls for five players from the weekend’s 1-1 home draw against Lincoln City.
In came Joe Murphy in goal – back for the ineligible Max O’Leary – Donald Love, Ryan Giles, Sean Goss and Daniel Udoh.
There was no place in the side for Ryan Sears, Dave Edwards, Shaun Whalley and Callum Lang.
Lee Johnson, whose side returned to winning ways in the Championship on Saturday, made a few changes from the side that were outplayed by Salop in the first tie.
Wales international Ashley Williams – a former country colleague of Ricketts’ who was knocked out by Town for Stoke at this stage last season, was back in from suspension, alongside skipper Josh Brownhill and attacker Jamie Paterson.
Former Villa and Wolves frontman Andi Weimann was in the visitors’ line-up alongside Ashton Gate goalscorer Famara Diedhiou.
The prospect of welcoming Klopp’s Premier League champions meant there was plenty on the line for both sides.
Shrewsbury boast no shortage of Cup scalps in recent history and generations gone by, and were ready to add the Robins to their victims.
Town, boosted by the noise, worked hard to contain their visitors early on. Robins skipper Brownhill launched a rocket from 25 yards that Murphy tipped around his post at full stretch.
The hosts stood to see off early City set-pieces and worked their way into the tie – Josh Laurent and Giles showing their running ability after skipper Ollie Norburn and Goss had worked hard to win their side the ball.
Shrewsbury fans’ tails were up and their side were inches away from taking a spectacular 19th-minute lead as Pierre crept forward and sent his first thunderbolt of the night whistling inches wide via Daniel Bentley’s fingertips.
Chances were exchanged in a watchable, open contest. Pierre superbly blocked from Paterson before defender Nathan Baker headed a corner on to the foot of the post.
Ricketts’ men were neat and incisive with the ball and played themselves into the box well. Norburn’s deflected effort dropped just wide of grateful Bentley’s right post.
Shrewsbury’s three centre-halves were defending manfully to provide the hosts a foundation to build.
Udoh was working tirelessly in the lone forward role and almost got reward five minutes before the break as a thumping left-foot strike was palmed away by a sprawling Bentley.
The sides shared huge chances before half-time. Scott Golbourne was almost punished for sloppiness as Diedhiou raced through, but shot over, before Giles sped away for Shrewsbury and fired into the away end.
The teams attacked their own sets of supporters in the second period and the 1,300 travelling Robins wondered how on earth Diedhiou had spooned wide from the edge of the box while unmarked.
Giles, ever the pacy Town outlet, took a whack 10 minutes after the break, but soldiered on for a little while before Whalley replaced him midway through the second period.
Shrewsbury were seeing just as much of the ball as their higher-ranked visitors and asked questions of the Robins’ backline.
Johnson turned to his talented bench and sent on highly-rated former Chelsea youngster Kasey Palmer to unlock Shrewsbury.
Ricketts’ double change of Whalley and Lang caused immediate problems. The former crossed for the latter and Bentley stretched to keep out the header as the tension grew and decibel levels raised.
Ebanks-Landell’s header from the resulting corner was flying in before it struck team-mate Williams near the line.
The absorbing contest went beyond 75 minutes with the outcome on a knife-edge.
Town fans were engrossed and the noise levels rose with every pass, touch or move their side put together.
Laurent was just unable to find a team-mate as Salop broke three-on-three before Whalley headed tamely at Bentley.
More superb Lang hold-up play teed up a shot from the edge of the box, but the skipper curled over.
Shrewsbury were the better side inside the final 10 minutes. It felt like something was brewing as Ricketts turned to Jason Cummings.
And Cummings played his role in the magical moment with one minute of normal time left.
Pierre strode forward, exchanged a pass with the substitute striker and, from 25 yards out, belted a low drive towards the bottom right corner.
Bentley threw himself towards the ball, but couldn’t get there. The Meadow erupted as Shrewsbury carved another chapter into its proud Cup history and booked their date with Klopp’s world champions.
Shrewsbury Town (3-4-3): Murphy; Williams, Ebanks-Landell, Pierre; Love, Norburn, Goss (Cummings, 88), Golbourne; Laurent, Udoh (Lang, 69), Giles (Whalley, 69). Subs not used: Gregory, Beckles, Walker, Edwards.
Bristol City (4-4-2): Bentley; Hunt, Baker (Moore, 38), Williams, Rowe; Eliasson, Nagy, Brownhill, Paterson (Palmer, 66); Diedhiou, Weimann. Subs not used: Maenpaa (gk), Dasilva, O’Dowda, Semenyo, Pereira.
Referee: David Webb.
Attendance: 7,194 (1,323 Bristol City fans)