Sheffield Wednesday 1 Shrewsbury Town 1 - Report

Shrewsbury Town extended their unbeaten run at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium to nine games with an excellent and deserved point.

Sam Cosgrove of Shrewsbury Town and Sam Hutchinson of Sheffield Wednesday. (AMA)
Sam Cosgrove of Shrewsbury Town and Sam Hutchinson of Sheffield Wednesday. (AMA)

Ryan Bowman’s first goal for the club seven minutes before half-time cancelled out Saido Berahino’s early opener as Steve Cotterill’s men frustrated their glamorous hosts and looked just as likely to pinch a late winner in their first visit to Hillsborough in 34 years.

Shrewsbury were fortunate that the Owls, relegated from the Championship last season, were unable to kill them off early on amid a flurry of fine chances including a penalty miss from the usually-reliable Barry Bannan.

The goal Town did concede came from a corner as former West Brom star Berahino marked his full Owls debut with a header at the far post.

But Cotterill’s men weathered the storm and pounced in an impressive end to the first period, as Bowman - handed a return to the side - scrambled in at the near post after some excellent interplay to work the chance. It was Shrewsbury’s first away goal of the season at the fourth attempt.

The Hillsborough crowd demanded their side attacked Shrewsbury in the second half but Wednesday were extremely off-colour and only threatened through an Olamide Shodipo offside goal and Lee Gregory headed chance deep into stoppage time.

Cotteirll’s men could have won it late on themselves and went close through good Luke Leahy and Josh Vela openings.

But a point, Town’s seventh draw in nine league games at Wednesday, was fully-deserved as the visitors’ travelling support including some 850 Salopians sang loud and proud long after the final whistle in recognition of the effort their side had put in.

A share of the spoils must act as a confidence-booster for Cotterill’s men, who have now drawn twice on the spin, and head into back-to-back home games against AFC Wimbledon and Wycombe over the next 10 days.

Cotterill handed teenage sensation Tom Bloxham a breather at Hillsborough after talking up the 17-year-old as a ‘jewel in the crown’ in midweek.

Ryan Bowman of Shrewsbury Town and Chey Dunkley of Sheffield Wednesday. (AMA)

In his place came striker Bowman for just a second Shrewsbury league start and a first since the opening day. Bowman, the summer signing from Exeter, has since been missing with a hamstring problem.

The visiting boss opted to return to 3-5-2 against the Owls, with Shaun Whalley operating off front pair Bowman and Sam Cosgrove, and wing-backs Elliott Bennett and Luke Leahy assisting the centre-halves.

The atmosphere at the historic stadium, provided by a boisterous home crowd, began to hit home ahead of kick-off. Town, in their pink and black away colours, emerged to a deafening roar in South Yorkshire, before the Owls faithful began their spine-tingling, decibel-breaking rendition of Hi Ho Sheffield Wednesday.

Cotterill commented in the week on an ‘embarrassment of riches’ for his opposite number Darren Moore and the Wednesday matchday squad highlighted the depth of quality the hosts possess.

Moore made four changes from the side who were turned over 3-0 at Plymouth last weekend. The Owls were in need of a reverse from consecutive defeats on the road.

In came Berahino for his full Wednesday debut while fellow attacker Shodipo was also included, as well as a return for midfielder Dennis Adeniran.

Cotterill would have wanted a strong start from his Town side defending the goal in front of the travelling fans in the Leppings Lane end, but his side were under the cosh also instantly.

Wednesday got some immediate joy down the flanks and full-back Jack Hunt crossed low with the unmarked Shodipo set to convert before Salop pressure just put the attacker off.

A follow-up cross from the left just missed the head of ex-Stoke and Millwall hitman Lee Gregory as Town escaped some early pressure.

Town’s task was to keep the hosts at bay for as long as possible but their clean sheet was intact for just five-and-a-half minutes before, not for the first time this season, they were undone from a set-piece.

There will be some debate about whether a corner should have even been given on the left as Bennett attempted to recover to win Town the ball back.

But there was no debating the delivery and finish, as Bannan swung in from the left and Berahino climbed to thump in a headed finish at the back post.

The dead ball proved Salop’s undoing again and, perhaps more pertinently Berahino - not particularly tall or renowned for his aerial ability - was able to easily convert beyond Marko Marosi.

The away supporters stuck with their side and continued to try to make themselves heard, as per Cotterill’s request.

Shrewsbury threatened an instant response as Josh Vela’s half-volley was deflected wide but more home pressure was imminent.

Ryan Bowman of Shrewsbury Town celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-1. (AMA)

Berahino should have doubled his side’s lead inside 10 minutes, but this time skewed a free header wide of the left post from another left-sided cross, this time from open play.

Bannan was conducting much of the early play and quick-thinking to take a free-kick short allowed left-back Liam Palmer to shoot from 25 yards. The full-back’s decent strike whistled narrowly wide of the top left corner.

Wednesday were encouraged by their early dominance and knocked the ball around with confidence. The Owls threatened down the flanks with a quick switch of play.

The home side should have made their pressure count midway through the half. Twenty-two minutes were on the clock when Bannan was played into the right channel and brought to the deck after a retreating Vela clipped his heels.

Referee Ben Toner pointed to the spot immediately but Bannan, usually so calm and reliable from set-pieces, sent his low left-footed penalty wide of Marosi’s left post. It was a huge let-off.

Town had to make the penalty miss a turning point but it was the hosts who again passed up a glorious chance as Gregory fired straight at Marosi from a low Berahino pass in the box on half hour.

Shrewsbury found their confidence and composure after that moment and ended the first period with renewed belief and a potentially priceless equaliser.

First Bennett was unable to convert a low strike from the edge of the box after Cosgrove had escaped down the left.

But, with eight minutes remaining of the first half, Town stunned the home crowd with a leveller.

Bennett and Whalley combined excellently with a one-two that released the former to the right byline. Bennett’s delivery enticed Bowman to challenge goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell and, amid the near-post scramble, Bowman appeared to send an effort on to the post.

The ball appeared to trickle almost painfully along the Owls goalline, but Bowman, leaning against the post, managed to prod over the line for his first Shrewsbury goal.

The scrambled nature of the goal, similar to that of Cosgrove against Crewe seven days earlier, meant a delayed response for the Salop fans at the other end of the stadium, but they certainly made themselves heard in the Leppings Lane end.

Town ended the first half the stronger and the players left the pitch to a chorus of home boos, most of which were aimed at referee Toner and his officials.

The visitors started the second half better than the first and contained their hosts well, limiting pressure to the lively Shodipo shooting from 25 yards.

Salop got stuck into their hosts and both Vela, for ending a Shodipo break, and Leahy, for pulling down Hunt, were booked inside 10 minutes.

Ryan Bowman of Shrewsbury Town celebrates with his team mates after scoring a goal to make it 1-1. (AMA)

Those two then combined for Shrewsbury, from a short corner, as Vela’s deflected drive was straight at Peacock-Farrell.

Moore was the first boss to roll the dice, introducing Wolves loanee Theo Corbeanu for an injured Berahino.

However, almost seconds after that change, Town found themselves with a glorious opportunity to take the lead.

Town worked it down the left and Leahy, charging forward from wing-back, found himself through on goal with only Peacock-Farrell to beat.

Leahy was put under pressure from a recovering Owls stopper but managed to get a low strike away which, unfortunately for Town, flew narrowly wide of the far corner. It was a real chance.

It was, instead, the home fans celebrating 20 minutes after the restart as Shodipo coolly slotted beyond Marosi from a delightful Bannan pass before celebrating with the Kop End, only to discover 30 seconds late that the assistant referee had raised his flag for offside.

That attack was a rare foray into Town’s penalty box for the home side who lacked the urgency to get at their visitors, with niggling Shrewsbury injuries not helping the hosts’ cause - much to the supporters’ ire.

Cotterill shuffled his options midway through the second half as George Nurse and Daniel Udoh were introduced for Whalley, who had been lively, and Cosgrove.

Owls fans were growing more and more irate as their side toiled and struggled to break down a resilient Town.

Moore’s substitutions had done little to swing the game in the home side’s favour as aimless balls forward continued to drop to pink away shirts.

And, indeed, as the contest entered its final 10 minutes, Cotterill’s visitors were the side in the ascendency and most likely to bag a late winner.

Bennett shot well over from distance following excellent work from subs Nurse and Udoh. Then, on 85 minutes, Vela burst into the right of the box and shot low at Peacock-Farrell.

Wednesday’s only late chance came the way of Gregory’s head. The striker had been anonymous, much to the home crowd’s frustration, and could only head wide of the far post.

At the end it was the travelling Salopians celebrating loudly with the Town players and staff. A chorus of boos greeted the Wednesday players, but for the visitors a performance full of resilience and desire was well worth a share of the spoils.

Teams

Sheffield Wednesday (4-3-3):

Peacock-Farrell; Hunt, Iorfa, Dunkley, Palmer; Adeniran (Wing, 76), Bannan ©, Hutchinson; Shodipo (Kamberi, 77), Berahino (Corbeanu, 61), Gregory.

Subs not used: Wildsmith, Dele-Bashiru, Johnson, Sow.

Shrewsbury Town (3-5-2):

Marosi; Pennington, Ebanks-Landell ©, Pierre; Bennett, Vela, Davis, Whalley (Nurse, 68), Leahy; Cosgrove (Udoh, 68), Bowman.

Subs not used: Gregory, Ogbeta, Daniels, Leshabela, Bloxham.

Attendance: 21,976 (no away number given)

Referee: Ben Toner.

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