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Shrewsbury Town on the wrong end of a late, late show this time

Life comes at you fast in the EFL.

Tom Bayliss of Shrewsbury Town and Funso Ojo of Port Vale (AMA)
Tom Bayliss of Shrewsbury Town and Funso Ojo of Port Vale (AMA)

No sooner was Chey Dunkley slamming home a stoppage-time winner against Exeter at the Meadow, Ellis Harrison was heading in a late goal of his own to break the hearts of Salop fans.

It was a cruel lesson on how to take the rough with the smooth – on a day where Salop could have made it three wins in a row.

However, in reality, they never really looked like winning the game against newly-promoted Port Vale.

Games are coming thick and fast in a tight schedule, and Steve Cotterill opted to hand Jordan Shipley a rest – after admitting in midweek he tired in the win over the Grecians.

Carl Winchester – captured on deadline day from Sunderland – came it at right-wing-back, a position the central midfielder has played in before.

And Christian Saydee’s powerful cameo in midweek was rewarded with a first start – in place of fellow loanee Rob Street.

After the excitement of Tuesday evening, the 900-plus travelling Salop army would have been looking for a fast, front foot start.

But it didn’t come – not because Salop weren’t at it, but because Darrell Clarke’s side wouldn’t let them.

Playing some good passing football, they got into good areas and should have led as early as the 10th minute as Mal Benning headed inches wide of the post from a Gavin Massey cross.

But three minutes later and they breached the Town defence with relative ease.

Benning bullied Winchester off the ball in a Salop attacking area and within three passes it was in the back of the net.

The midfielder found Dan Butterworth and he slipped in Harrison, who got the better of Tom Flanagan before slotting under Marko Marosi.

A simple goal, but despite its manner, it was the fact they had fallen behind for the seventh time in 10 league games this season that perhaps irked more.

Granted, in many they have come back to get a point or even three, but it is a statistic they will want to turn around.

However, like in those games, 10 minutes later and they were level – with a goal straight out of the top drawer.

A ball was fired into Saydee, whose first touch saw him bring it down on his chest and backheel to strike partner Rekeil Pyke.

Pyke then kept his composure to cross for Saydee, who slotted home.

But that was as good as it would get for Salop for the rest of the afternoon.

Butterworth was Vale’s biggest attacking threat as he had a shot deflected over later in the half, but it was a period and a game where clear-cut chances were very much at a premium.

In the second period, the possession stats again fell the way of Vale.

Despite having more of the ball though, Salop defended well to limit the threat to their goal.

Heading into the final period of the game and Salop did have a sniff themselves.

Flanagan found Ryan Bowman and his cross-cum-shot was saved at the near post. As the game wore on to the dying moments, the pressure was coming from Vale, but again Salop held firm – until the 91st minute.

Taylor Moore put it behind for a corner that Cotterill admitted after didn’t need to be conceded.

The set piece was dealt with, but it was recycled and a ball back into the box found Harrison, who nodded home to the frustration of the visitors.

George Nurse had a late shot flash over, but they couldn’t claw their way back for a second late show in a week.

Did they do enough for a point? You could argue yes, but it wasn’t what Salop fans have come to expect at times this season.

The positives to take saw Tom Bayliss impress in the first period – and Saydee and Pyke link up well.

At the other end, it was another two goals conceded by a defence that was water tight prior to the midweek win over Exeter.

However, after the start to the season they’ve had, defeat is far from the end of the world.

But momentum is a big thing in football – and a win, or even a draw here, would have created even more moving forward.

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