A disappointing afternoon for Shrewsbury Town as they fail to lay a glove on Northampton who secure a narrow victory.
The Cobblers’ defence was resolute and miserly as the side temporarily managed by Jon Brady did enough to claim the win and ease relegation fears.
The visitors probed but rarely looked like scoring as back-to-back defeats take the shine off of a good few months for the Shropshire club.
Town made five changes from the side that lost 2-1 against Portsmouth. Matija Sarkic returned from international duties, whilst there were welcome returns in the shape of Aaron Pierre and Donald Love who had been missing recently with calf and groin problems respectively. Ollie Norburn returned from suspension whilst Harry Chapman was given the nod. There was no place in the squad for Dan Udoh – Harry Burgoyne, Sean Goss, Matthew Pennington, and Ryan Sears dropped to the bench.
Prior to kick-off there was a minute’s silence following the passing of ex-Northampton and Shrewsbury player Lee Collins. The Telford born defender died this week at the age of just 32.
It was the hosts who made the early inroads. Former Shrewsbury midfielder Bryn Morris tried to catch Sarkic off guard by whipping a free-kick toward the near post. However, the set-piece just evaded the target.
At the other end, Town were thwarted by the offside flag. A free-kick was guided on by Aaron Pierre, and Curtis Main made a clever run to ghost behind the Northampton defence. The striker finished clinically beyond one-time Shrewsbury loanee Jonathan Mitchell, but the flag curtailed the premature celebrations.
Northampton went into this one out of the relegation zone by virtue of goal difference. They were sharp and impressive during the opening 30 minutes and should have taken a lead through Sam Hoskins. A cross was flicked on by Danny Rose toward Hoskins at the back post. The ex-Southampton striker was in acres of space as he hooked the ball goalward – Sarkic adjusted well to produce a smart stop.
However, Northampton were not to be denied in the 27th minute. Luton loanee Peter Kioso drilled a dangerous cross toward the advancing Ryan Watson who smashed his shot beyond Matija Sarkic and into the roof of the net. Watson and co were hungry for more and the midfielder had a go from distance but this time Sarkic stood up to the task.
Shrewsbury were struggling to respond; however, they did rally toward the end of the half. Nathanael Ogbeta galloped down the flank and produced a tantalising delivery for Harry Chapman. The Blackburn loanee skewed his header over the crossbar. Then, Kioso produced a last-ditch challenge to deny Josh Vela.
In the final action of the first half, Hoskins was sent clear following a looping ball over the top of the Town backline. He tussled with Ogbeta prior to striking an attempt straight at Sarkic.
Shrewsbury tried to seize the initiative in the opening exchanges of the second period. A Harry Chapman free-kick was aimed at Curtis Main but he was unable to make a telling touch. The returning Donald Love found space down the right-hand side – Joseph Mills, another former Town loanee, arrived on the scene to block the shot. The resulting corner fell to Love, but the ex-Sunderland man sliced well over.
Town’s radar continued to be askew. This time Josh Vela tried a volley from the edge of the box, but it cleared the goal. Jonathan Mitchell was worked during the next attacking passage of play, but Chapman’s effort from distance was comfortable for the Derby Country loanee.
The home side appeared content with sitting back and soaking up the pressure, but did have two chances in quick succession. The busy Kioso left fly from the angle of the area – Matija Sarkic held well. Next, David Davis gifted possession away far too cheaply to Sam Hoskins. The striker advanced into the area, but was pushed out wide and could only find the side-netting.
The Town bench rolled the dice with a triple-change in the 88th minute. An argument could be made to say it was after the horse had bolted with precious little time on the clock. Ogbeta did try and rescue a point, but his shot drifted wide.
Shrewsbury will hope to avoid a third straight defeat when they welcome Plymouth on Easter Monday, Northampton visit Hull.
Team Line Ups
13. Mitchell, 15. Kioso, 28. L. Jones, 6. Horsfall, 23. Mills, 18. Morris, 17. McWilliams, 8. Watson, 7. Hoskins, 29. Rose, 26. Edmondson (78)
Subs: 2. Harriman, 5. Bolger, 10. A. Jones, 30. Chukwuemeka, 35. Berry, 44. Sheehan (78), 45. Marshall
Subs Not Used: 2. Harriman, 5. Bolger, 10. A. Jones, 30. Chukwuemeka, 35. Berry, 45. Marshall
31. Sarkic, 17. Love, 2. Pierre, 5. Williams (88), 24. Ebanks-Landell, 14. Ogbeta, 10. Vela, 28. Davis, 8. Norburn (88), 32. Chapman (88), 20. Main (79)
Subs: 1. Burgoyne, 4. Edwards (88), 6. Goss (88), 7. Whalley (88), 9. Pyke (79), 12. Sears, 29. Pennington
Subs Not Used: 1. Burgoyne, 12. Sears, 29. Pennington
Other League One Results
Accrington 0 – 0 Burton
Crewe 1 – 2 Hull
Doncaster 0 – 1 Charlton
Fleetwood 0 – 1 Peterborough
Ipswich 2 – 1 Bristol Rovers
Plymouth 1 – 0 AFC Wimbledon
Portsmouth 2 – 1 Rochdale
Sunderland 3 – 1 Oxford
Swindon 0 – 2 Blackpool