A scintillating first half performance from Shrewsbury Town allowed Paul Hurst’s side to steam past a beleaguered Bristol Rovers outfit.
Alex Rodman, Jon Nolan, Carlton Morris, and Junior Brown, all netted in the first half to move Shrewsbury back to the top of League One.
Paul Hurst made two changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Plymouth Argyle. Carlton Morris and Alex Rodman, replaced Stefan Payne and Arthur Gnahoua.
Despite the emphatic scoreline, Bristol Rovers began the match on the front foot. Former Oxford United midfielder Liam Sercombe, drove a dipping strike just over Dean Henderson’s bar.
But the rout began with 12 minutes on the clock. Alex Rodman started the move by turning possession over to Shaun Whalley. The winger bulldozed forward and threaded the ball through to Alex Rodman who had continued his run. The ex Notts County winger demonstrated his composure, by calmly slotting the ball beyond Sam Slocombe.
Moments later, Salop almost doubled their advantage. Ben Godfrey skipped past several challenges and put Shaun Whalley through. He cut back inside and fired a shot at Sam Slocombe who beat the ball away.
Bristol Rovers looked jaded and were reduced to taking pot shots. Welshman Ellis Harrison struck from 25-yards but the attempt did not trouble Dean Henderson.
In the 24th minute, Town scored a second. Intricate passing resulted in Junior Brown picking up possession on the left. His tantalising cross towards the back post was met by Carlton Morris, whose header squirmed under the body of Sam Slocombe.
Shrewsbury didn’t take their foot off the gas, and were soon 3-0 up. Carlton Morris saw the unmarked Jon Nolan in the box, and the ex Chesterfield midfielder steered the ball home from close range.
Town continued to pour men forward. Shaun Whalley drifted past three players and fired inches wide.
Moments later, Salop extended their lead even further. Shaun Whalley’s free-kick, was headed back across goal by Junior Brown who required an assist from the post to score his second goal of the season.
At the beginning of the second period, Aristote Nsiala should have made it five without reply. Shaun Whalley’s corner found the defender unmarked, but he was unable to hit the target.
Bristol Rovers were unadventurous in their attacking play, and looked all at sea in defence. A series of passes that were reminiscent of the Netherlands’ famed ‘total football’ culminated in a Junior Brown shot that was comfortably collected by the Rovers keeper.
The Pirates will undoubtedly be made to walk the plank by their manager Darrell Clarke. Poor defending once more allowed Carlton Morris to find Alex Rodman – but he diverted wide.
Yet the away side did have an opportunity to make the scoreline a little less one sided. Stoke City loanee Ryan Sweeney put the ball on a plate for Ellis Harrison, but the forward’s header flew wide.
Shrewsbury are now two points clear at the top. Bristol Rovers remain 13th. Town face Fleetwood at home on Saturday, whilst Bristol Rovers go to Rochdale.
Attendance: 5,652 (524 away fans)
Team Line Ups:
Shrewsbury Town: (4-1-4-1)
1. Henderson, 13. Bolton, 5. Sadler, 22. Nsiala, 12. Brown, 4. Godfrey, 7. Whalley, 8. Ogogo (85), 20. Nolan (81), 23. Rodman, 9. C. Morris (66)
Subs: 6. Beckles, 10. Dodds, 11. Gnahoua (81), 14. John-Lewis, 15. MacGillivray, 16. B. Morris (85), 45. Payne (66)
Subs Not Used: 6. Beckles, 10. Dodds, 14. John-Lewis, 15. MacGillivray
Bristol Rovers: (4-3-3)
1. Slocombe, 22. Partington, 4. Lockyear, 6. Sweeney, 20. Bola, 7. Sercombe, 8. Clarke, 14. Lines (45), 30. Gaffney (57), 9. Harrison, 11. Nichols (72)
Subs: 2. Leadbitter (57), 3. Brown, 16. Broadbent, 18. Telford (72), 19. Moore, 21. Smith, 24. Sinclair (45)
Subs Not Used: 3. Brown, 16. Broadbent, 19. Moore, 21. Smith
Other League One Results:
AFC Wimbledon 3 – 1 Rotherham
Blackburn 1 – 1 Plymouth
Blackpool 2 – 1 Bury
Bradford 1 – 1 Oldham
Doncaster 2 – 1 Portsmouth
Gillingham 1 – 1 Wigan
MK Dons 1 – 1 Walsall
Oxford 1 – 1 Charlton
Rochdale 2 – 2 Northampton
Scunthorpe 1 – 1 Fleetwood
Southend 1 – 1 Peterborough
Report by: Ryan Hillback