Shrewsbury Town suffer late heartache as Steve Evans’ Gillingham notch a 94th minute equaliser.
Shrewsbury Town were on the cusp of achieving their maiden win of the season when Brad Walker scored his first goal since November 2019.
However, former Wolves and Aston Villa winger Jordan Graham netted a scrappy equaliser in the dying embers of the contest.
Sam Ricketts made five changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Plymouth. Harry Burgoyne, Ethan Ebanks-Landell, Ollie Norburn, Ryan Barnett, and Leon Clarke came in for Matija Sarkic, Ro-Shaun Williams, Scott High, Jason Cummings, and Dan Udoh. Shillow Tracey was in a Town squad for the first time since signing on loan from Tottenham Hotspur.
Both side’s enjoyed positive starts to the contest. Shaun Whalley’s acrobatic overhead kick didn’t trouble Jack Bonham, whilst former Sheffield Wednesday striker Vadine Oliver skewed wide under pressure.
Gillingham arrived at the Montgomery Waters Meadow on the back of a 2-0 win against Blackpool, and Steve Evans’ side appeared to be in the groove. Town initially failed to clear their lines as the ball bounced around in the box, but Jacob Mellis was unable to profit.
But Shrewsbury took the lead with 12 minutes on the clock. Steve Evans was fuming on the touchline that Town were awarded a corner as he felt that Shaun Whalley’s challenge on Connor Ogilvie merited a free-kick. However, Whalley’s delivery was met by Walker and Town were a goal to the good.
Yet the Gills didn’t seem perturbed by going behind. Zech Medley narrowly missed connecting to Jordan Graham’s cross, with just the slenderest of contact needed for an equaliser.
At the other end, Josh Vela sent Shaun Whalley in the clear. The long-serving Town man crossed for Leon Clarke who glanced a header just wide of the target.
Ex Shrewsbury striker Dean Edwards told us in the week that the signing of Leon Clarke would free up other players to find space. It proved to be correct as the veteran striker was showing tremendous hold-up play to bring others in.
Josh Vela has started the season in a confident mood, and he cracked a strike from distance which was clawed to safety by Jack Bonham.
Town’s mounting injury list threatens to get out of hand. Shaun Whalley had to be withdrawn in the 38th minute, as Ricketts must be bemoaning his side’s lack of luck.
The home side began the second half in the ascendancy. Scott Golbourne’s corner was powered goalward by Aaron Pierre and Josh Eccles had to react quickly to hack the effort off the line. Northern Irishman Josh Daniels followed up with a deflected attempt.
The writing appeared to be on the wall, with Shrewsbury unable to convert their chances. They somehow remained unpunished ten minutes into the second half. Vadine Oliver appeared oblivious to the fact that his teammate Dominic Samuel was about to pull the trigger. The ex Blackburn striker’s shot was destined for the top corner, but as Oliver rose from the ground he inadvertently got in the way.
Gillingham began to get a foot hold and were seeing a lot more of the play. Josh Eccles was a threat out wide, but Harry Burgoyne remained largely a spectator.
Yet one goal is never a safe lead in football and so that proved to be the case. Shrewsbury’s defenders failed to deal with a throw-in, and Jordan Graham was on hand to fire home.
Town’s failure to convert chances led to their downfall. Sam Ricketts will prepare his side for an EFL Trophy clash against Bolton on Tuesday night, whilst Gillingham will visit Ipswich in the same competition.
Team Line Ups:
1. Burgoyne, 18. Fossey, 24. Ebanks-Landell, 2. Pierre, 3. Golbourne, 10. Vela, 16. Walker, 8. Norburn, 19. Barnett (81), 11. Clarke, 7. Whalley (40)
Subs: 17. Love, 20. Tracey, 21. Gregory, 22. Daniels (40), 25. High (81), 30. Caton, 35. Cummings
Subs Not Used: 17. Love, 20. Tracey, 21. Gregory, 30. Caton, 35. Cummings
1. Bonham, 2. Jackson, 5. Tucker, 6. Medley, 3. Ogilvie, 18. Mellis (45), 17. Eccles, 21. O’Connor (77), 9. Samuel (85), 19. Oliver, 10. Graham
Subs: 11. Coyle (77), 12. Walsh, 14. McKenzie, 15. Akinde (85), 16. MacDonald, 26. Maghoma, 35. Drysdale (45)
Subs Not Used: 12. Walsh, 14. McKenzie, 16. MacDonald, 26. Maghoma
Other League One Results:
AFC Wimbledon 1 – 2 Accrington
Blackpool 2 – 3 Lincoln
Bristol Rovers 2 – 0 Northampton
Burton 2 – 4 Portsmouth
Charlton 0 – 0 Sunderland
Hull 1 – 0 Plymouth
MK Dons 1 – 1 Ipswich
Oxford P – P Crewe
Peterborough 3 – 1 Swindon
Rochdale 2 – 1 Fleetwood
Wigan 1 – 0 Doncaster