Another frustrating league fixture for Shrewsbury Town as they fall to a narrow defeat against Rochdale.
Shrewsbury Town possess the unwanted record of not being able to register a win at Spotland in their last 15 visits.
Tyler Smith’s 88th minute goal was enough to secure victory and stretch Town’s winless league record to seven.
Shrewsbury lined up with two out and out strikers, but goals were hard to come by once more.
Sam Ricketts made six changes from the side that lost 2-0 against Gillingham on Tuesday night. Conor McAleny was handed his debut, whilst Jason Cummings, Dave Edwards, Scott Golbourne, Ro Shaun-Williams, and Donald Love returned to the starting line-up. There was no place in the squad for deadline day signings Kayne Ramsay and Harry Burgoyne.
Conor McAleny was eager to make a positive first impression and the Fleetwood loanee was in the thick of the action early on. McAleny skipped over Eoghan O’Connell’s half-hearted challenge and was about to pull the trigger when the ex Celtic defender recovered in the nick of time.
Shrewsbury continued to dominate possession and McAleny was at the heart of everything for the visitors. The former Everton forward saw his low shot blocked and another attempt whistle wide of the target.
Shrewsbury may feel aggrieved that they were not awarded a 25th minute penalty. Conor McAleny drifted past several Dale players before he was unceremoniously pushed over by O’Connell – but the referee waved play on.
At the other end, veteran striker Ian Henderson flashed a header wide, but the opening half an hour very much belonged to the visitors.
Moments later Town were presented with a wonderful opportunity to break the deadlock. Josh Laurent led the charge and threaded the ball through to Jason Cummings. The Scot’s rasping drive was clawed away by Brighton loanee Robert Sanchez.
Town continued to force the issue. Former Sunderland and Manchester United defender Donald Love prodded wide from inside the area.
Rochdale were completely anonymous in an attacking sense. Aaron Morley’s audacious attempts sailed over.
The second half began with the same narrative. Conor McAleny’s delivery was begging to be turned home by Callum Lang, but the Wigan Athletic loanee was unable to latch onto the cross.
Then, Josh Laurent controlled a sublime pass from Donald Love – the midfielder was unable to test Sanchez, and Jason Cummings blasted the rebound wide.
A rare attacking opportunity for the hosts arrived when ex Bristol City man Aaron Wilbraham guided the ball to Ian Henderson who powered a header over the crossbar.
But it was Shrewsbury that looked the most threatening. Rochdale failed to clear their lines from a corner and Callum Lang forced Robert Sanchez into a reaction stop.
Still Shrewsbury were pouring men forward. Callum Lang’s cross/shot arrived at the feet of Josh Laurent who blazed wide.
The visitors were punished for their inability to convert a catalogue of chances as Rochdale delivered the ultimate sucker-punch.
With two minutes of normal time remaining, Ian Henderson cracked the woodwork from distance and Sheffield United loanee Tyler Smith was on hand to fire home.
The defeat sees Shrewsbury in 16th place in League One, whilst Rochdale find themselves in 18th. Town travel to Anfield to face Liverpool in the 4th round of the FA Cup on Tuesday, Rochdale visit Doncaster next Saturday.
Attendance: 2,829 (391 Town fans)
Team Line Ups
25. Sanchez, 13. Keohane, 6. O’Connell, 15. McShane, 3. Norrington-Davies, 7. Dooley (56), 28. Morley (76), 20. Ryan, 14. Rathbone, 18. Wilbraham (67), 40. Henderson
Subs: 2. McLaughlin (76), 4. McNulty, 8. Williams, 12. Lynch, 11. Smith (67), 16. Done (56), 37. Tavares
Subs Not Used: 4. McNulty, 8. Williams, 12. Lynch, 37. Tavares
Shrewsbury Town: (3-4-3)
25. O’Leary, 5. Williams, 24. Ebanks-Landell, 6. Beckles, 17. Love, 28. Laurent, 4. Edwards, 3. Golbourne, 9. Lang (71), 35. Cummings (76), 18. McAleny (83)
Subs: 1. Murphy, 2. Pierre, 7. Whalley (71), 15. Walker, 22. Goss (83), 23. Udoh (76), 42. Hart
Subs Not Used: 1. Murphy, 2. Pierre, 15. Walker, 42. Hart
Other League One Results
Accrington 2 – 1 AFC Wimbledon
Bolton 2 – 0 Tranmere
Bristol Rovers 1 – 2 Coventry
Fleetwood 2 – 1 Doncaster
Ipswich 1 – 4 Peterborough
MK Dons 2 – 0 Wycombe
Oxford 2 – 1 Blackpool
Portsmouth 2 – 0 Sunderland
Rotherham 3 – 2 Burton
Southend 2 – 1 Lincoln