Accrington Stanley 1 Shrewsbury 0 - Report

Shrewsbury Town’s worrying start to the League One season continued with a fifth defeat from six after defeat at Accrington Stanley.

Luke Leahy of Shrewsbury Town and Mitch Clark of Accrington Stanley (AMA)
Luke Leahy of Shrewsbury Town and Mitch Clark of Accrington Stanley (AMA)

For the ninth time in nine games in all competitions this term, Steve Cotterill’s men failed to register a clean sheet and conceded the first goal in a game as they were seen off 1-0 following an early opener.

Stanley, who took advantage of just three League One games taking place due to the international break, climbed to second with the win courtesy of on-loan forward Joel Mumbongo’s simple 15th-minute finish.

Problems continue to mount for Cotterill and Town, who remain 22nd in the table and were unable to build on a first league win of the season last week.

Clear Shrewsbury chances were few and far between with Stanley goalkeeper Toby Savin mostly tasked with routine saves from distance. Goalscoring remains problematic for Town, who have scored in just one league game this season.

Town’s Marko Marosi was the busier of the two goalkeepers and made some big stops after the break to prevent his struggling side from falling further behind.

Despite some light pressure towards the death - where nine minutes of stoppage time were added on - and the hosts holding on to just a slender lead, Accrington were never really stretched.

The 400-plus fans in the away end voiced their frustration during and at full-time, although there was applause between the supporters and boss at the end.

Shrewsbury’s problems with affording opposition a leg-up reared its head again. Mumbongo’s early winner was a soft goal and the visitors were unable to truly recover. Tom Bloxham’s acrobatic effort shortly afterwards was as close as they came to an equaliser.

Salop welcomed defender Matt Pennington back from a league suspension to the backline, which also included Aaron Pierre after the stopper was allowed Tuesday’s EFL Trophy tie off as he worked on his fitness.

David Davis missed out through suspension for his part in the last-gasp melee in the victory over Gillingham last week.

Cotterill opted to use left-back Luke Leahy in midfield alongside Josh Vela. The boss had spoken in the week about the likes of Leahy and others being flexible enough to play in a number of positions after Town missed out on another midfielder before Tuesday’s deadline.

The visiting chief named forwards Bloxham, Daniel Udoh and Sam Cosgrove in his frontline at the Wham Stadium. Udoh operated in the attacking midfield role behind his two forward colleagues.

Shrews were hunting a consecutive league victory for the first time since early February following last week’s comeback win over the Gills. Hosts Accrington, meanwhile, came into the clash on the back of a first league reverse of the campaign, losing 2-0 at MK Dons.

The home side were blunted by the absence of star forward Dion Charles, who has struck up an excellent partnership with Colby Bishop. Charles is away on international duty with Northern Ireland, while first-choice goalkeeper James Trafford is involved in the England youth set-up.

The home end terrace, behind home goalkeeper Toby Savin’s goal in the first half, whipped up a raucous atmosphere ahead of kick-off. A following of a few hundred Town fans made up the opposite terrace.

Town threatened first with a fierce strike from left wing-back George Nurse, whose overlapping run was found by Cosgrove, but the effort flew over the left angle.

The game’s opening was not helped by an early collision of heads in midfield between Leahy and giant Stanley counterpart Harry Pell. The home side were full of powerful units, including fellow midfielder Matt Butcher and striker Mumbongo.

Shrewsbury were opened up on 10 minutes after a neat through ball from midfield played Mumbongo in beyond the defence.

The Swedish on-loan Burnley forward was forced wide by a retreating Pierre, who lunged in to prevent a shot, sending Mumbongo flying. Stanley cried for a penalty but Pierre was judged to have made a fine recovery tackle, and only a corner was conceded.

Shrews were unable to clear the resulting dead ball, from which Bishop sent a powerful header straight at Marko Marosi.

Town could only keep their hosts out until the 15th minute, however, as for the ninth time in nine games this season Cotterill’s men fell behind.

A lovely pass from midfielder David Morgan found adventurous right centre-back Ross Sykes down the right flank - where Accrington looked particularly dangerous.

Sykes delivered and Bishop was involved in a close-range scramble in the six-yard box with Marosi, which then dropped to Mumbongo in the right place at the right time and the striker made no mistake for his first Accrington goal.

Annoyed Town fans voiced their discontent behind the goal in which Stanley netted.

Shrewsbury responded well and almost forged an instant leveller.

The purposeful Vela charged down the right and delivered in an excellent cross for the unmarked Bloxham in the box, and the 17-year-old hero of a week earlier swivelled for another acrobatic effort, which drew a smart instinctive stop from Savin.

Other features of the first half included Vela collecting an early booking - a worrying sign with Davis already suspended - as well as Pennington, who has also been suspended this term, for a lunge when trying to control a ball as his side attacked. Cosgrove was also cautioned on the brink of half-time.

Accrington were the more threatening side, particularly down their right, where Sykes and right wing-back Mitch Clark had the better of Nurse and delivered dangerous crosses.

Cosgrove shot low and well wide from distance before the break after cutting in from the right. But Town had struggled to knit moves together from midfield to the forward line in a bid to create openings.

Town started the second period well as Udoh and Elliott Bennett combined for the latter to send a cross along the six-yard box that begged a touch, but none was applied.

A free-kick from influential skipper Sean McConville rippled the roof of Marosi’s net, leading to a break of more than five minutes while a member of the home staff fixed the netting, much to the home fans’ enjoyment.

Bennett did flash a left-footed volley wildly over into the away terrace as Town threatened the Stanley box.

Shrewsbury were then fortunate to not fall further behind and indebted to their goalkeeper Marosi for some heroics.

A long clearance from opposite keeper Savin was somehow allowed to swirl over the heads of Town’s defence and, from nowhere, McConville charged through on goal and should have made it 2-0, but for the onrushing Marosi, who spread himself to make a key stop.

Bishop headed the resulting corner on to the roof of Marosi’s net.

Cotterill turned to Nathanael Ogbeta as his first change from the bench, just after the hour.

Town threatened from a wide set-piece, swung in by Bennett, but Ebanks-Landell was unable to turn in a close-range scramble from colleague Pierre’s header.

Both Bloxham and Udoh had efforts for Town from outside the box, but both were gathered comfortably by Savin. Shrewsbury still trailed by just the one-goal deficit with 15 minutes left and sniffed something was still available.

Marosi was kept honest shortly afterwards as the Shrews keeper made a decent double save to deny both Etham Hamilton and then Pell, after both unleashed strikes from 25 yards.

There was light pressure in the final 10 minutes and in nine minutes added on, but Town looked low on confidence and unable to forge anything like a clear-cut chance on goal, as their worrying early woes continue.

Teams

Accrington Stanley (3-5-2):

Savin; Sykes, Nottingham, Sherring; Clark, Morgan, Butcher (Hamilton, 68), Pell, McConville ©; Mumbongo (Malcolm, 63), Bishop.

Subs not used: Isherwood, Procter, Leigh, Perritt, Nolan.

Shrewsbury Town (3-5-2):

Marosi; Pennington, Ebanks-Landell ©, Pierre; Bennett, Vela, Leahy, Nurse (Ogbeta, 63); Udoh (Whalley, 82); Bloxham (Bowman, 89), Cosgrove.

Subs not used: Gregory, Daniels, Leshabela, Pyke.

Referee: Anthony Coggins

Attendance: 2,465 (429 Shrewsbury fans)

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