Shrewsbury Town are left frustrated by a plucky Rovers outfit as they are unable to build on their weekend victory.
It is affectionately known as the Weetabix derby – and perhaps Shrewsbury Town’s forward players didn’t have theirs, as they couldn’t convert a number of promising opportunities.
Instead former Gillingham striker Brandan Hanlan found the games only goal in the 16th minute; as Shrewsbury fail to seal rare back to back league victories.
Sam Ricketts made two changes from the side that beat AFC Wimbledon 1-0. Scott High was deployed at right-back as Town are without Matt Millar and Marlon Fossey – with Donald Love continuing to be frozen out. Dan Udoh was also drafted in at the expense of Ryan Barnett.
Town began the contest brightly. The visitors may feel aggrieved that they were not awarded a free-kick as Ethan Ebanks-Landell appeared to upend Brandan Hanlan on halfway. However, the referee waved play on with the ball eventually reaching Jason Cummings who could only lash over from distance.
Ben Garner’s side should have broken the deadlock in the 8th minute. Former QPR defender Max Ehmer crossed for Josh Grant, but his close-range volley was struck wide.
Town had the ball in the back of the net moments later. Josh Grant was enduring a tough few minutes as he was robbed in possession by Dan Udoh. The former AFC Telford man threaded a pass through to Leon Clarke who converted – but the linesman’s flag thwarted the veteran strikers’ celebrations.
Instead, it was the Gas who put their foot on the accelerator and located the opening goal. Brandan Hanlan literally put his head where it hurts to meet Westbrooke’s free-kick, and the striker’s bravery was rewarded with his fourth goal of the campaign.
Shrewsbury Town’s apparent failure to draft in another left-back could be costly. Scott Golbourne, Salop’s only senior player in this position, had to be stretchered off early on with what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder.
But the home side didn’t allow their heads to drop. Max Ehmer produced a vital and brilliant piece of defending to produce a last-ditch interception as Jason Cummings arrived on the scene.
In the 32nd minute, Shrewsbury should have been level. Dan Udoh slipped Leon Clarke in who bore down on goal; but he somehow skewed wide one on one with Finland international Anssi Jaakkola.
Bristol Rovers continued to be on the back foot as Town dominated possession; creating a number of chances. This time substitute Jan Zamburek delivered for Leon Clarke, whose header from six yards out hit the post.
The visitors did have the final say in the first half. Zain Westbrooke took a quick-free kick toward ex Cardiff man David Tutonda – but Macedonian Dejan Iliev reacted sharply to smother the ball.
The second period began with Bristol Rovers looking to add to their lead. Josh Hare tested Daniel Iliev’s reflexes with a powerful shot, but the Arsenal loanee stood up to the task with a good stop.
Sam Ricketts looked visibly frustrated on the touchline as his side continued to lay siege to the Rovers goal without the killer instinct. Jason Cummings caught Max Ehmer napping – the Scot’s ball into the box narrowly evaded Dan Udoh. Then, Udoh left Cian Harries trailing in his wake, but Anssi Jaakkola was alive to the danger.
Just after the hour mark, Shrewsbury were mightily unlucky to still be behind. Leon Clarke picked out Jan Zamburek, and the Brentford loanee’s drive was hacked off the line by the busy Max Ehmer.
It was Bristol Rovers’ turn to show some attacking intent. The away side countered quickly, with Josh Hare’s, strike which looked destined for bottom corner, expertly blocked by Brad Walker.
As the contest drew to a close, Nicholson’s long-range effort narrowly cleared the bar, whilst Brandan Hanlan looked odds on to score but could only blast his shot into the grateful arms of Dejan Iliev.
It’s a real head scratcher as to why Shrewsbury didn’t at least take something from the game, but their inability to convert golden chances proved to be their undoing.
Town host Rochdale on Saturday, whilst Bristol Rovers are away to Accrington Stanley.
Team Line Ups
33. Iliev, 25. High, 24. Ebanks-Landell, 2. Pierre, 3. Golbourne (23), 10. Vela, 16. Walker (88), 8. Norburn, 35. Cummings, 11. Clarke, 23. Udoh (82)
Subs: 1. Burgoyne, 5. Williams, 13. Zamburek (23), 19. Barnett, 20. Tracey (82), 22. Daniels (88), 30. Caton
Subs Not Used: 1. Burgoyne, 5. Williams, 19. Barnett, 30. Caton
32. Jaakkola, 5. Ehmer, 26. Baldwin, 25. Harries, 22. Hare, 4. Grant, 14. McCormick (72), 8. Westbrooke (90), 24. Tutonda, 9. Hanlan, 17. Daly (72)
Subs: 1. van Stappershoef, 3. Leahy, 6. Upson (90), 11. Nicholson (72), 15. Kilgour, 20. Hargreaves, 41. Oztumer (72)
Subs Not Used: 1. van Stappershoef, 3. Leahy, 15. Kilgour, 20. Hargreaves