Shrewsbury Town begin the 2019/20 campaign with a priceless victory against former Premier League outfit Portsmouth.
Wolves loanee Ryan Giles’ second half wonder strike, ensured that Sam Ricketts’ side got off to the best possible start.
Giles’ first ever goal in the Football League, was worth the entry fee alone and is surely a contender for goal of the season even at this early stage.
Portsmouth were heavy favourites prior to kick-off. However, the South Coast outfit had not won a match on opening day since August 1988. Their Opponents? Shrewsbury Town.
Fast forward 31 years and there was a sense of optimism inside the Shrewsbury camp. Sam Ricketts handed seven players their debuts with the aforementioned Ryan Giles joining Max O’Leary, Ethan Ebanks-Landell, Aaron Pierre, Donald Love, Luke McCormick, and Steve Morison; in donning the blue and amber shirt for the first time.
Goalkeeper Joe Murphy, who missed a portion of pre-season with a foot injury, managed to make the bench. Daniel Udoh did not feature in the 18.
A busy flurry of transfer activity looks set to continue, with reports strongly linking Town with Fulham midfielder Tayo Edun.
A move for Edun may not have been necessary, had Ross McCrorie opted to join the club rather than penning a loan deal with Portsmouth.
But the Rangers loanee lasted 81 minutes on his Pompey debut, as the referee flashed a red card in his direction.
As predicted, Kenny Jackett’s side enjoyed the lion’s share of play in the opening minutes. A quick succession of corners were sent in the Town box, but the defending was spot on to clear the danger.
Bristol City loanee Max O’Leary was called into action early on, as Ross McCrorie saw his strike saved by the stopper.
At the other end, former Leeds United man Steve Morison shrugged off the advances of Cameron Burgess, but saw his attempt fly over the crossbar.
A cagey first half, ended with former Millwall striker John Marquis thwarted by a brave block courtesy of Ro Shaun-Williams.
The visitors began the second half brightly, but were frustrated by their calls for a penalty turned down. Ronan Curtis weaved one way and then another, before being upended in the box.
Then, Lee Brown’s makeshift effort saw Max O’Leary peddling backwards, thankfully the keeper arrived in time to tip over.
Shrewsbury Town took the lead in the 68th minute in a stunning fashion. A free-clear was cleared only as far as Ryan Giles, and from 30-yards, the former AFC Telford loanee, arrowed a venomous strike beyond the helpless Craig MacGillivray.
Sam Ricketts called for a structured and compact defence to see out the game, but Portsmouth kept steaming forward.
Lee Brown’s improvised corner found John Marquis, the striker angled an effort goalward, but ex Sheffield United defender Ethan Ebanks-Landell, produced a heroic clearance on the line to keep the score 1-0.
John Marquis, who found the net 26 times for Doncaster Rovers last season, was certainly the danger man for the visitors. His latest attempt from the near post didn’t trouble O’Leary.
To make matters worse for Pompey, Ross McCrorie was given a second yellow for a rash challenge.
The final chance of the contest fell to Ronan Curtis, he volleyed over, much to the relief of the Town faithful.
One goal and a sturdy backline was all Town needed to produce three points at the first time of asking.
Shrewsbury’s first away test is against MK Dons next Saturday. Portsmouth welcome Birmingham City in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday.
Attendance: 7,880 (1,714 away fans)
Team Line Ups
Shrewsbury Town: (3-5-2)
25. O’Leary, 5. Williams, 24. Ebanks-Landell, 2. Pierre, 17. Love, 4. Edwards, 16. Vincelot, 18. McCormick (53), 11. Giles, 10. Okenabirhie (64), 20. Morison (89)
Subs: 1. Murphy, 3. Golbourne, 6. Beckles, 7. Whalley (64), 15. Walker, 21. Eisa, (89) 28. Laurent (53)
Subs Not Used 1. Murphy, 3. Golbourne, 6. Beckles, 15. Walker
1. MacGillivray, 2. Walkes (53), 5. Downing, 6. Burgess, 3. Brown, 4. Naylor, 15. McCrorie, 11. Curtis, 26. Evans (53), 19. Harness (75), 10. Marquis
Subs: 8. Pitman (53), 13. Bolton (53), 14. Cannon, 22. Harrison (75), 33. Close, 35. Bass, 38. Haunstrup
Subs Not Used: 14. Cannon, 33. Close, 35. Bass, 38. Haunstrup
Other League One Results
AFC Wimbledon 1 – 2 Rotherham
Blackpool 2 – 0 Bristol Rovers
Burton 0 – 1 Ipswich
Coventry 1 – 0 Southend
Doncaster 1 – 1 Gillingham
Lincoln 2 – 0 Accrington
Peterborough 1 – 3 Fleetwood
Sunderland 1 – 1 Oxford
Tranmere 2 – 3 Rochdale
Wycombe 2 – 0 Bolton