Shrewsbury Town secure an impressive victory against Championship side Aston Villa at the newly named Montgomery Waters Stadium.
Aston Villa are the bookmakers’ favourite for promotion back to the Premier League – but they failed to overcome a vibrant Shrewsbury Town.
Whilst the first half showed little in terms of attacking prowess, Salop put on a vintage second half display to seal the win.
Goals courtesy of Zak Jules and Arthur Gnahoua put Paul Hurst’s side in a commanding position, with Henri Lansbury scoring a consolation penalty at the death for Steve Bruce’s side.
Much of the pre-match talk centred around the debut of John Terry. The former Chelsea and England defender Captained Villa for an hour.
Terry showed he still knows how to defend, by out-muscling Town debutant Carlton Morris inside the box.
The away side controlled the lion’s share of possession in the first half. Former Tottenham Hotspur full-back Alan Hutton sent Andre Green on his bike. The winger fired the ball across the goal, but 17-year-old Christos Shelis showed maturity beyond his years by intercepting the danger.
Salop’s first chance of the contest fell to Shaun Whalley with 20 minutes on the clock. The former Luton man blazed a volley comfortably over the bar.
Five minutes later Aston Villa were awarded a free-kick, roughly 25-yards away from goal. Conor Hourihane stepped up, placing the set-piece over Dean Henderson’s crossbar.
Then Shrewsbury were presented with a golden opportunity. Carlton Morris’ cross was deflected into the path of Jon Nolan. The former Chesterfield man saw his stooping header miss the target.
The majority of home fans were given the opportunity to see Manchester United loanee Dean Henderson for the first time as a Salop player. He showed his composure by clutching a fierce Andre Green cross into his midriff.
Salop had two half-chances before the end of the first period. Firstly, Louis Dodds showed nimble footwork before skewing his effort wide. Then Aristote Nsiala jumped above Neil Taylor to connect to a Shaun Whalley free-kick. However, the ex-Hartlepool defender’s header lacked pace and Sam Johnstone easily gathered the ball.
Both sides named the same eleven for the beginning of the second half. It was Aston Villa that started the brightest. Scotland international Ross McCormack saw his free-kick fly over, in a carbon copy from the one missed by teammate Conor Hourihane in the first period.
Then ex Arsenal midfielder Henri Lansbury floated a set-piece into the box. The ball fell kindly to Alan Hutton, but his looping header failed to trouble substitute goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray.
The Championship outfit came within a whisker of opening the scoring. Aristote Nsiala upended ex-England international Gabby Agbonlahor. Gary Gardner blasted the free-kick against the post.
After that scare Town started to dominate proceedings. Substitute Arthur Gnahoua collected Junior Brown’s throw-in, before striking the ball past the post.
With 15 minutes remaining the home side took the lead. Junior Brown lofted a corner into the box, and Zak Jules powered a header into the bottom corner. The ball may have taken a deflection off Gary Gardner, but the ex-Reading man will certainly claim the goal as his own.
Three minutes later Lenell John-Lewis out muscled his defender, before dragging his attempt wide of the target.
But a minute later Town doubled their lead. Former Kidderminster Harriers striker Arthur Gnahoua had all the time in the world to think of his options. He strode forward before lashing the ball past the helpless Sam Johnstone.
Villa attempted to respond, but Henri Lansbury struck well over. With the game reaching its finale, the away outfit were awarded a penalty. Jordan Lydon burst into the box, before he was swiped out by Christos Shelis. Henri Lansbury placed his penalty to the right, sending Craig MacGillivray the wrong way in the process.
Shrewsbury are at home to Wolves next Saturday, whilst Aston Villa face Walsall.
Attendance: 5,549 (2,593 away fans)
Team Line Ups:
Shrewsbury Town: Henderson (53), Jules, Nsiala, Shelis, Brown, Whalley, Adams (61), Ogogo, Nolan (61), C. Morris (61), Dodds (61),
Subs: MacGillivray (53), Gnahoua (61), John-Lewis (61), B. Morris (61), James, Rodman (61), Gallagher, Sears, Roberts
Subs Not Used: James, Gallagher, Sears, Roberts
Aston Villa: Johnstone, Hutton, Chester (61), Terry (61), Taylor (61), Green (61), Veretout (61), Hourihane (61), Bjarnasson (86) McCormack (61), Hogan (61),
Subs: Sarkic, Richards (61), Lansbury (61), Tshibola (61), Agbonlahor (61), Bree (61), Davis (61), Gardner (61), Amavi (61), Samba, Lydon (86), Bunn
Subs Not Used: Sarkic, Samba, Bunn
Report by: Ryan Hillback