Sam Ricketts’ tenure gets off to the best possible start as Shrewsbury defeat fierce rivals Walsall in the Checkatrade Trophy.
It was the perfect start for new boss Sam Ricketts as town secured passage to the next round of the Checkatrade Trophy.
A much-changed line-up did not derail Town’s recent good form; with the hosts exuding confidence from the outset.
Former Newcastle United winger Alex Gilliead struck first in the 24th minute, whilst Doug Loft returned from the cold to seal the victory.
Kieran Morris managed to pull a goal back for the Saddlers, but Shrewsbury did enough to hold on.
The Checkatrade Trophy allows fringe players to remind the management team of their capabilities, and Kieran Kennedy certainly tried to make his mark. In the opening exchanges, the defender directed a corner narrowly past the target.
At the other end, Walsall were trying to link up play for their burly target man Morgan Ferrier. The ex Boreham Wood striker flashed a header wide of Joel Coleman’s goal.
Then Lenell John-Lewis’ scuffed shot was hacked off the line by West Bromwich Albion loanee Kane Wilson.
As Shrewsbury began to exert more pressure, they found the opening goal. Walsall could only clear a corner as far as Alex Gilliead who was lurking on the edge of the box. The midfielder rifled a low drive beyond the reaches of Chris Dunn.
The momentum was with Sam Ricketts’ side, and Lee Angol should have done better after ex Aston Villa midfielder Isaiah Osbourne was robbed in possession.
Neither side threatened the target in the second half until the 72nd minute. Doug Loft who was cast aside by former boss John Askey, will be hoping to resurrect his Town career under the guidance of Sam Ricketts.
And the former Port Vale skipper went some way to doing just that as he doubled Shrewsbury’s lead.
An inventive short corner found Loft in space, and his deflected strike looped over Chris Dunn and into the back of the net.
Kieran Morris halved the deficit after firing a shot into the roof of the net, after Zeli Ismail found his teammate.
However, it is Salop that will be competing in the next round of the competition, and they will find out their next opponents at 12:20pm during Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday programme.
Shrewsbury make the relatively short trip to Burton on Saturday, whilst Walsall welcome Coventry.
Attendance: 1,857 (239 away fans)
Shrewsbury Town: (4-4-2)
1. Coleman, 2. Emmanuel, 27. Sears, 4. Kennedy, 3. Haynes, 21. Eisa (92), 23. Colkett, 19. Loft, 18. Gilliead (62), 14. John-Lewis (78), 9. Angol
Subs: 7. Whalley (62), 26. McAtee (92), 31. Gregory, 34. Taylor, 35. Rowland (78), 39. Shelis
Subs Not Used: 31. Gregory, 34. Taylor, 39. Shelis
13. Dunn, 5. Guthrie, 27. Fitzwater, 34. Martin (62), 28. Wilson, 15. Kinsella (70), 30. Osbourne (75), 8. Morris, 3. Leahy, 31. Ronan, 16. Ferrier
Subs: 1. Roberts, 2. Edwards (70), 6. Devlin, 9. Cook, 10. Ismail (62), 17. Kouhyar (75), 29. Gordon
Other Checkatrade Trophy Round 2 Results:
Chelsea U21 2 – 1 AFC Wimbledon
Newcastle United U21 1 – 1 Macclesfield (Newcastle U21 win 5-3 on pens)
Exeter 0 – 2 Peterborough
Barnsley 3 – 3 Manchester City U21 (Manchester City U21 win 5-3 on pens)
Accrington 2 – 2 Lincoln (Accrington win 4-2 on pens)
Cambridge 1 – 1 Northampton (Northampton win 4-2 on pens)
Cheltenham 1 – 1 Newport (Cheltenham win 7-6 on pens)
Mansfield 0 – 1 Bury
Port Vale 4 – 0 Stoke City U21
Portsmouth 2 – 1 Arsenal U21
Sunderland 2 – 0 Notts County
Rochdale P – P Oldham (waterlogged pitch)
Luton 1 – 1 Southend (Southend win 4-2 on pens)
Swansea U21 1 – 2 Bristol Rovers
Report by: Ryan Hillback