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Morecambe 2 Shrewsbury Town 0 - Report

Shrewsbury’s first competitive away game with their travelling fans for 18 months ended in a poor 2-0 defeat at newly-promoted Morecambe.

Rekeil Pyke of Shrewsbury Town and Josh McPake of Morecambe. (AMA)
Rekeil Pyke of Shrewsbury Town and Josh McPake of Morecambe. (AMA)

The disappointing performance and result means it is two defeats from two to start the new League One campaign for Steve Cotterill’s men.

Morecambe were clear and deserved winners on an afternoon where 471 travelling Town supporters saw their side start slowly and concede first for the third time in a week.

As concerning, however, was the issue of Town’s threadbare squad rearing its head again . Cotterill could name just six subs including two goalkeepers and two teenage strikers.

Adam Phillips of Morecambe converted a penalty after half hour as Nathanael Ogbeta, playing in midfield, clumsily checked handful striker Cole Stockton.

Town fell apart and Stockton pounced before the break from a corner as Town conceded from a dead ball for the second time in two league games.

Luke Leahy of Shrewsbury Town. (AMA)

Cotterill brought off Ogbeta for new boy Sam Cosgrove at the break and his side improved for 10 minutes but did not do nearly enough to close the deficit as the hosts and their returning home crowd continued their excellent start to life in League One.

For Cotterill there is work to be done at Sundorne Castle and in the remaining weeks of the transfer window, with Town’s ranks looking thinner still with the absent and unavailable Ethan Ebanks-Landell, Shaun Whalley and Ryan Bowman - and Portsmouth lying in wait on Tuesday.

The frailties of Town’s thin ranks were highlighted when the team news arrived an hour ahead of kick-off.

Shrewsbury could name just six subs, one short of the permitted numbers, which included two goalkeepers in Harry Burgoyne and Cameron Gregory and teenage strikers Tom Bloxham and Charlie Caton.

Ebanks-Landell missed out for a second game after his positive Covid test.

But there were unexpected absentees in the shape of striker Bowman and Whalley - who has been nursing a serious hand injury.

There was to be no immediate full debut for new loan recruit and wearer of the No.9 shirt Cosgrove, who checked in from Birmingham this week.

Instead it was Rekeil Pyke who partnered Tuesday’s substitute goal hero Daniel Udoh, who returned to the side.

For ex-Wrexham man Pyke - who was given the nod from the off in the Carabao Cup against Lincoln - it was a first league start since last September and his first since Cotterill was appointed in November.

Greg Leigh of Morecambe and Joshua Daniels of Shrewsbury Town. (AMA)

Ogbeta was once again - but for the first time in league action - handed a start in central midfield.

The anticipation could be felt ahead of kick-off, both in the home terraces and in the away end behind the goal.

For travelling Salopians it was a first competitive away day since February 2020 and for the home supporters - after beginning with two away games - it was the first capacity crowd at the Mazuma Stadium for a year-and-a-half.

Travelling Salopians filed in slowly with an hour to go until kick-off, both in the terrace behind the goal and the seating on the right of the impressive Main Stand. The M6 had not played kind on the journey to Lancashire, meaning those on the away travel coach, and others, faced a race to make kick-off.

Morecambe had given a superb account of themselves at the start of their first ever season in the third tier. A stunning 2-2 draw at big-spending Ipswich last week - which was almost an improbable win - highlighted they were not here to make up the numbers.

Boss Stephen Robinson, who also guided his side to a League Cup upset at Blackburn in midweek, had undergone a full change of the summer, with no fewer than 17 new signings.

The Mazuma Stadium was rocking ahead of kick-off, with Shrimps fans packed into three sides of the ground and the away end doing their best to make themselves heard.

The home side signalled an early statement of intent as right-back Ryan Cooney curled over the top right angle from a lay off by ex-Salop man Arthur Gnahoua.

Marko Marosi of Shrewsbury Town dives the wrong way as Adam Phillips of Morecambe scores a goal to make it 1-0 from a penalty. (AMA)

An even, open start then saw Town’s Josh Vela lift over the crossbar from inside the box after a deep free-kick was nodded down.

There was, once again, a clear emphasis on Shrews’ outside centre-backs Matt Pennington and George Nurse splitting out wide, allowing wing-backs Elliott Bennett - who was skipper - and Luke Leahy to push on almost as wingers.

When a long diagonal ball from Pennington, Aaron Pierre or Nurse was floated forward, the opposite wing-back would be waiting to pounce.

Big stopper Pierre almost profited from an already-typically excellent Leahy corner from the right and looked set to nod home but was just unable to connect.

Vela was afforded another strike from outside the Morecambe penalty area as the hosts were again unable to deal with a set-piece, this time his effort was goalbound but struck an offside Udoh.

There was very little in the contest around the half hour, with no clear-cut chance to speak of either way.

Town, however, were about to be undone. A simple ball over the defence left Ogbeta as the deepest defender against big Cole Stockton.

Ogbeta was caught on the wrong side of the striker inside Town’s box and momentarily blind-sided for long enough to catch Stockton and bring him down. Referee Declan Bourne gave himself some thinking time before pointing to the spot.

Midfielder Phillips composed himself to bury a finish down Marko Marosi’s middle as the goalkeeper dived to his left, despite the efforts of Shrewsbury fans behind the goal.

It was the third time in three games Cotterill’s men had conceded first and gone behind in.

And the visitors were let off seven minutes before the break as Gnahoua was afforded room on the edge of the box before the right-sided forward shot straight at Marosi.

Stockton curled harmlessly wide a minute later with the home side well on top.

And they made their dominance count further on the stroke of half-time with a crucial second.

For the second league game in a week Shrews conceded from a corner as a right-sided delivery bounced the wrong way - as far as Town are concerned - off a huddle of bodies before Stockton pounced sharply from close range ahead of Marosi.

Shrewsbury passed up a hint at halving the deficit before the interval but Pennington was unable to connect with a close-range flick.

The majority of Mazuma Stadium were clearly enjoying themselves as the sides departed for the break.

Town required much-improved second half again and Cotterill wasted little time in changing things and handed Cosgrove his debut from the bench in place of Ogbeta.

His side were much sharper after the break with Cosgrove joining Udoh and Pyke in the frontline. The latter operated a little deeper and showed some nice touches.

Indeed, Pyke could’ve brought his side back into it within a couple of minutes of the restart as he connected well enough to a loose ball in the box, but his strike was blocked.

Pierre might have done better from Bennett’s left-sided corner but directed his header across goal.

At the other end Marosi had to remain sharp to save and hold on down low from lively Rangers loanee Josh McPake.

David Davis of Shrewsbury Town. (AMA)

Cotterill rolled the dice again before the hour and introduced Josh Daniels for Pyke, which moved Bennett into attacking midfield and Daniels out to right wing-back.

But Morecambe had rediscovered their composure and should’ve sealed the points with a third.

First Marosi saved low from Josh McPake before strong penalty appeals for a Pierre push were waved away.

Morecambe dangerman Stockton then should’ve really put the game to bed, but after working his way through on goal he was denied down low by Marosi.

Salop then showed signs of life but skipper Bennett could only shank wide on the stretch with his weaker left foot from Udoh’s low cross.

Stockton was enjoying himself as were the home crowd. Pierre was booked to the delight of the Shrimps fans and jeered for the latest wrestle with the striker.

With less than 20 minutes left the points only looked to be heading one way, much to the enjoyment of the home crowd. Town’s travelling fans, though, to their credit, kept going all afternoon. But moments of excitement in front of them were, disappointingly, scarce at best.

Town faded badly towards the finale, when a head of steam was needed. Cotterill yelled to his ranks to ‘pass, keep passing’, but neat, well-worked moves were not coming off as passes flew astray.

Marosi had to get down well at his near post with eight minutes left to deny home sub Wes McDonald.

Town’s little flurry came far too late.

Late sub Bloxham added life to things, but his cross from the right was just too high for Cosgrove, who then blazed high and wide across goal from a tight angle before Pennington’s header was clutched by Andersson on a memorable afternoon for the Shrimps and a chastening one for Shrewsbury.

Teams

Morecambe (4-3-3):

Andresson; Cooney, O’Connor, Lavelle ©, Leigh; Diogouraga, Phillips (McCalmont, 63), McPake (McDonald, 77); Gnahoua, Stockton, McLoughlin (Wootton, 90).

Subs not used: Letheren, Mellor, Jones, Harrison.

Shrewsbury Town (3-5-2):

Marosi; Pennington, Pierre, Nurse; Bennett © (Bloxham, 82), Vela, Davis, Ogbeta (Cosgrove, 45), Leahy; Pyke (Daniels, 59), Udoh.

Subs not used: Gregory, Burgoyne, Caton.

Referee: Declan Bourne

Attendance: 3,772 (471 Shrewsbury fans)

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