Shrewsbury Town’s wait for their first home league victory of the campaign rumbles on as they concede an agonising late equaliser.
There was a sense of inevitability that the Robins would leave the Montgomery Waters Meadow with a point as they lay siege to the Shrewsbury goal late on.
And so it proved to be the case with Arsenal loanee Matt Smith seeing his deflected shot loop into the net in the 92nd minute.
Shrewsbury began the contest at a blistering pace and were 2-0 up inside 16 minutes thanks to headers from Aaron Pierre and Matt Millar.
However, Town’s defensive frailties were rearing their ugly head once more and Swindon halved the deficit through Joel Grant before the break.
But Shrewsbury restored their two-goal lead after the interval thanks to Dave Edwards’ first goal of the campaign and it appeared Town were heading toward a rare league win.
Yet the Robins continued to plug away and were duly rewarded. Hallam Hope reduced the arrears on the hour mark and the alarm bells began ringing.
Town tried in vain to see out the contest but Matt Smith levelled things up to give John Sheridan his first point on the board as Swindon manager.
Sam Ricketts handed league starts to the aforementioned Matt Millar and mid-week hattrick hero Shillow Tracey. Shaun Whalley started for the first time this season, whilst ex-Premier League man Marc Pugh operated in a false nine position.
John Sheridan was only appointed on Friday evening and was on the touchline – despite the expectancy that he would be watching from the stands. The ex-Wigan and Oldham boss would have been pleased with his side’s early showing. Former Everton forward Hallam Hope appeared to handle but the referee waved play on. He switched possession to Jonny Smith who whipped a shot narrowly over the crossbar.
Despite an early scare, Shrewsbury began to assert their dominance. Australian Matt Millar bulldozed forward and found Marc Pugh who in turn pushed the ball out wide to Charlie Daniels. The full-back’s cross just evaded Millar who had carried on his run.
Town looked to carry on their cup exploits into the league and managed to take an 11th minute lead. Daniels’ pinpoint corner was attacked by Granada international Aaron Pierre and Sam Ricketts’ side were a goal to the good.
Ex Middlesbrough stopper Joe Fryer was enduring a nervy start. The goalkeeper slipped and gifted possession to Marc Pugh who rushed the opportunity and dragged his final effort well wide.
Newcastle Jets loanee Matt Millar was enjoying a positive start to the game. He had appeals for a penalty turned down when he fell to the ground under Rob Hunt’s challenge.
In the 16th minute, Shrewsbury deservedly doubled their advantage. Charlie Daniels’ corners were proving to be a real issue for Swindon, and his latest delivery was cleared only as far as Marc Pugh. The former Hull City midfielder showed his quality with his clever turn and superb cross into the danger area. Matt Millar connected with a diving header to notch his second goal in a week.
Swindon were on the backfoot, and couldn’t get a foothold despite ex Shrewsbury midfielder Anthony Grant urging more from his team.
Instead, Town continued to dominate and were thwarted by the offside flag. Ollie Norburn’s sweeping pass was met by Tottenham loanee Shillow Tracey and his looping header found the back of the net. However, the winger strayed slightly offside.
The visitors began to improve. Former Birmingham defender Paul Caddis struck a long distanced free-kick narrowly wide of the target.
And the Robins pulled a goal back just before half time. Joel Grant carved through Shrewsbury’s defence all too easily and manged to get the ball onto his favoured left foot. The Jamaican international saw his effort from inside the area deflect off Pierre and go beyond Harry Burgoyne.
Shrewsbury didn’t appear too downcast in the early stages of the second period. Charlie Daniels’ fierce cross had too much on it for Pugh and Odimayo managed to scramble behind.
Salop restored their two-goal advantage in the 55th minute. Marc Pugh guided Shillow Tracey’s cross toward Dave Edwards and the ex-Wales international rifled a shot into the roof of the net.
The home side were looking to put the contest to bed. Shaun Whalley’s darting run culminated in a low drive which went agonisingly wide of the post.
The nerves appeared to get the better of Shrewsbury as Swindon started to seize the initiative. The Robins were enjoying the lions share of the play, and managed to make it 3-2 on the hour mark. Paul Caddis’ cross evaded Ethan Ebanks-Landell and found Hallam Hope who guided a shot into the far corner past Burgoyne’s outstretched fingertips.
Sloppy play at the back almost result in an equaliser. Ro Shaun-Williams relinquished possession and Joel Grant turned it over to Harry Smith. The youngster narrowly missed the target with a fine strike.
Shrewsbury were in a desperate need to find the sixth goal of a pulsating game. Charlie Daniels’ cross was only cleared as far as Dave Edwards who ballooned his shot way over the bar.
Swindon continued to pour men forward. Veteran striker Brett Pitman was complaining that he was fouled inside the area as he hooked the ball off-target.
Shrewsbury were indebted to Harry Burgoyne as the Ludlow born goalkeeper produced a point blank save to deny Jonny Smith from close range.
But Town, despite netting more than twice in the league for a year, were shaky at the back and couldn’t hold onto their lead. In the dying embers of the match, Matt Smith found room on the edge of the area and his strike took a deflection and flew beyond Burgoyne.
Sam Ricketts will be fuming with his sides failure to hold onto a two-goal lead and this will undoubtedly fuel calls for his dismissal.
Town face a daunting trip to Ipswich next Saturday, whilst Swindon welcome Accrington on Tuesday night.
Team Line Ups
1. Burgoyne, 14. Millar (58), 5. Williams, 24. Ebanks-Landell, 2. Pierre, 15. C. Daniels, 8. Norburn, 4. Edwards, 7. Whalley (85), 27. Pugh, 20. Tracey (82)
Subs: 16. Walker (58), 19. Barnett, 22. J. Daniels, 23. Udoh (82), 25. High (85), 33. Iliev, 35. Cummings
Subs Not Used: 19. Barnett, 22. J. Daniels, 33. Iliev, 35. Cummings
25. Fryer, 2. Caddis, 5. Grounds, 11. J. Smith, 15. M. Smith, 16. Odimayo, 18. Payne (57), 20. J. Grant, 24. Hunt, 42. A. Grant, 45. Hope
Subs: 1. Kovar, 6. Baudry, 8. Pitman (57), 21. Curran, 22. Stevens, 30. Haines, 33. Broadbent
Subs Not Used: 1. Kovar, 6. Baudry, 21. Curran, 22. Stevens, 30. Haines, 33. Broadbent
Other League One Results
Bristol Rovers 1 – 4 Fleetwood
Crewe 2 – 0 Peterborough
Hull 2 – 0 Burton
Northampton 0 – 1 Accrington
Sunderland 1 – 2 MK Dons