Steve Cotterill hailed Shrewsbury Town’s youngsters as they got the job done against Wolves U21’s in the EFL Trophy.
The Town boss significantly shuffled his pack for a much-maligned competition. Given Town’s precarious league position, and their lack of squad depth, there would be not be the need for any unnecessary risks.
The home side did concede the first goal as Owen Hesketh put the visitors ahead in the 31st minute. A 72nd minute equaliser courtesy of Tom Bloxham was followed up by Louis Lloyd’s first senior goal. Rekiel Pyke was also on the scoresheet in what eventually turned out to be a comfortable evening.
There were nine changes from the side that lost 2-1 at Bolton. Perhaps annoyingly, the only survivors were Ethan Ebanks-Landell and Aaron Pierre.
Shrewsbury started brightly. Ethan Ebanks-Landell clipped a pass for debutant Callum Wilson to latch onto. The defender elected to shoot instead of slip Rekiel Pyke through and Wolves U21’s blocked the danger.
Mid-way through the first period, the visitors nudged themselves ahead. Harry Birtwistle galloped down the flank and pulled the ball back for the advancing Jack Hodnett. He drew a fine stop from ex-Wolves keeper Harry Burgoyne and Owen Hesketh gleefully converted the rebound.
Wolves U21’s may have gone into the break in a more commanding position. Ethan Ebanks-Landell upended Dexter Lembikisa on the edge of the box. The resulting free-kick was struck by Chem Campbell and flew narrowly over the bar via a deflection.
At the beginning of the second half, Town had a ‘goal’ chalked off. Nathanael Ogbeta’s free-kick was guided into the back of the net by Matthew Pennington, but the linesman’s flag frustrated the hosts. The visitors continued to exert pressure – Dexter Lembikisa’s tantalising delivery was powered goalward by Conor Carty subsequently forcing Harry Burgoyne into a flying save.
At the other end, Nathanael Ogbeta’s driven cross was helped on by Charlie Caton – the youngster saw his attempt deflect just wide. Steve Cotterill has admitted that the loan signing of Khanya Leshabela was a ‘punt’ – with the Leicester loanee barely featuring in the league.
He was given a rare chance to impress and managed to assist the equaliser. His drifting pass was collected by Tom Bloxham and he kept his composure to slot beyond former Manchester City youth Louie Moulden.
78 minutes were on the clock when Louis Lloyd produced a moment he will never forget. Nathanael Ogbeta’s whipped deliver was met by Lloyd who placed a header into the bottom corner.
The visitors refused to take defeat lightly. Goalscorer Hesketh cracked a strike off the woodwork, but Town would convert again through Rekeil Pyke to put the gloss on the contest.
Shrewsbury face a resurgent Ipswich on Saturday.
Attendance: 1,334 (91 away fans)
Team Line Ups
13. Burgoyne, 25. Wilson, 4. Ebanks-Landell (45), 6. Pierre (45), 14. Ogbeta, 20. Lloyd (90), 24. Leshabela, 19. Caton, 18. Bloxham, 9. Cosgrove, 15. Pyke
Subs: 1. Marosi, 3. Leahy (90), 5. Pennington (45), 11. Udoh, 12. Bowman, 16. Davis, 23. Nurse (45)
Subs Not Used: 1. Marosi, 11. Udoh, 12. Bowman, 16. Davis
13. Moulden, 44. Agboola (45), 47. Estrada, 43. Nya (81), 85. Birtwistle, 39. Cundle, 79. Hesketh, 81. Lembikisa, 78. Hodnett, 77. Campbell, 53. Carty
Subs: 65. Harkin (81), 83. Keto-Diyawa, 87. Roberts. 88. O’Shaughnessy, 89. Bugarin, 95. Mabete (45), 96. Kaleta
Subs Not Used: 83. Keto-Diyawa, 87. Roberts, 88. O’Shaughnessy, 89. Bugarin, 96. Kaleta