Shrewsbury Town 3 Plymouth Argyle 0 - Report

A blistering second-half display earned clinical Shrewsbury Town their biggest league win of the season as Plymouth were put to the sword.

Shaun Whalley was unfortunate not to finish the contest with a double in the fully-deserved 3-0 victory as Steve Cotterill’s men returned to winning ways and reached 49 points in League One.

Salop’s opener seven minutes after the break took a hugely fortunate and apparently decisive deflection off Argyle defender Will Aimson before looping over helpless keeper Mike Cooper.

Town, who secured a first clean sheet in six, had come alive after an uneventful first half and there was no denying Whalley the second, after a woeful piece of defending from the visitors 13 minutes from time.

There was still time for some star quality from teenage sensation Nathanael Ogbeta, who curled in a stunning third with his weaker right foot.

Cotterill and Aaron Wilbraham’s men remain 17th but climb them to 49 points and 12 points clear of the drop zone having all-but confirmed safety with nine games to go. Plymouth are now just one spot and three points ahead of Town, having played three games more.

It's the first time Shrewsbury have won by a three-goal margin in the league since 4-0 v Bristol Rovers in Oct 2017.

Cotterill continued his period of rotation for the visit of the Pilgrims.

Having made five changes for the underwhelming Good Friday defeat at Northampton, the absent manager shuffled his pack again for a further four changes back at home.

Matthew Pennington returned to defence, while David Davis also came out of midfield for Sean Goss, in the more advanced role. Cotterill also rotated his frontline, with Whalley and Daniel Udoh – who this weekend became a father for the first time – back in for Harry Chapman and Curtis Main.

For Whalley, it was just a second start in six games.

Ryan Lowe’s Pilgrims form has been streaky this season, but their latest run of three unbeaten and two wins heading to Shropshire had seen them climb to 52 points and, in 14th, well clear of drop zone concerns.

The visitors were without injured loan defender Sam Woods, match-winner on Good Friday against AFC Wimbledon.

There was a surprise in the biting, chilly April Meadow wind as players emerged for kick-off. Pierre, listed on the teamsheet in the hosts’ defence, had been replaced by Ro-Shaun Williams - who appeared to have been left out of the line-up for the first time since October having started 34 of 36 league games.

Pierre’s surprising absence will come as a concern for Shrews, the defender having missed two months with a calf injury before retiring at Northampton on Friday.

There was a lack of tempo in the early exchanges, as Town were broken on by the Pilgrims, who failed to fashion an opening of note.

Shrewsbury’s first moment of quality came, unsurprisingly, through man of the moment Ogbeta. The teenager darted brilliantly between two defenders from left wing-back and the ball ricocheted to Whalley, who lifted a deflected effort just wide of the top corner.

Argyle keeper Cooper impressed with a fine sprawling save to keep out Ethan Ebanks-Landell’s bottom corner-bound header from a fine Goss free-kick delivery.

Town upped the ante and moments later went inches from leading as skipper Ollie Norburn dragged a shot wide across goal from a half-cleared corner. It just required a touch from Udoh, who was fractions from pouncing.

Plymouth showed some adventure through left-back Kelland Watts, whose low ball in from the flank was well defended. Experienced attacking talent Danny Mayor began influencing the game with space in midfield.

Following a reasonably bright start as a spectacle, certainly compared to Good Friday, the contest entered a desperate lull after half hour, with an end-of-season feel to it.

The fact a difficult angled volley chance for Whalley from an Udoh header on the stroke of half-time was a talking point rather summed up an uneventful first period.

To their credit, Cotterill’s men had limited a decent Plymouth side to next to nothing on goal.

Having been a spectator for the entirety of the first period, Matija Sarkic was forced into a fine low save from former Town loan man Niall Ennis barely 90 seconds after the restart. The goalkeeper showed fine reactions to get down low.

Town did, however, show significant improvement themselves and were much sharper and assured in their attacking approach-play.

Right wing-back Donald Love dragged wide of goal from distance before Salop edged ahead, owing much to a slice of fortune.

A lofted ball high into the swirling wind seemed to deceive the high Argyle backline and Udoh collected it well.

The striker found a ball for attacking partner Whalley just outside the box to the right, and the Town No.7 began a dart into the box.

On his weaker left foot Whalley unleashed a fierce drive which appeared well blocked by flying defender Aimson, only for the ball to cannon high and loop over the despairing dive and grasp of Cooper.

The opening sparked Shrews into life and they almost added a second from a low Ogbeta cross but Udoh’s shot was well blocked after a neat touch.

Defender Pennington should have found colleague Williams in the Argyle box after more hopeless clearances from the visitors.

It was all Salop, despite Lowe making a double attacking change to his side, as Goss found the crossbar straight from a corner and Ogbeta flicked wide of the far post after a jinking run into the box.

A second felt imminent and Lowe’s side shot themselves in the foot with 15 minutes left.

One green Argyle shirt sold another short as a hospital backpass, seconds after keeper Cooper had caught a Goss shot, saw Whalley free in the box to comfortably slot in the second. That goal was definitely his.

Plymouth were shell-shocked but it still took another moment of class four minutes later to round-off the victory.

There appeared little danger as Ogbeta picked up possession out on the left, but he quickly shifted infield on to his so-called weaker right foot via a sharp stepover before curling a beautiful strike into the far corner for his second Town goal, the second from his right foot from distance on an Easter afternoon to remember for Shrewsbury.


Shrewsbury Town (3-5-2):

Sarkic; Pennington, Ebanks-Landell, Williams; Love (Davis, 87), Norburn ©, Vela, Goss (Edwards, 87), Ogbeta; Whalley (Pyke, 90), Udoh (Main, 78).

Subs not used: Burgoyne, Sears, Chapman.

Plymouth Argyle (4-2-2-2):

Cooper; Aimson, Opoku, Watts (Lewis, 75), Edwards © (Moore, 75); Camara (Reeves, 75), Fornah, Mayor, Grant; Ennis (Lolos, 65), Hardie (Jephcott, 65).

Subs not used: McCormick, Tomlinson.

Referee: Bobby Madley

Attendance: Zero

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