Shrewsbury Town (Home)

May 23, 2023 | 2023 A Season in Review

The Memorial Stadium Saturday 27th August 2022

Bristol Rovers 1

Loft (68)

Shrewsbury Town 1

Bowman (80)

Referee: Sam Purkiss Attendance: 8,576

After two away games, in which they had conceded six goals and scored only once, Rovers returned to The Mem looking to bounce back with three points.

The manager’s team selection became a bit of a headache, when it was announced prior to the game that central defender James Connolly could be missing for up to eight weeks with a stress fracture of the lower back. Alfie Kilgour replaced him and there were two other changes, which saw Glenn Whelan and Sam Finley drop to the bench with Lewis Gordon and Harry Anderson restored to the starting lineup.

The tone of this stop start game was set in the opening ten minutes as it seemed that every time a Shrewsbury player was tackled he went to ground requiring treatment from the medical team. Once the referee had fallen for that old trick on a couple of occasions the visitors realised they could use it at every opportunity…and they did, to great effect.

Let’s not kid ourselves, though, as this was a poor performance from Rovers and they struggled to make an impact in the opening 45 minutes. Their best opportunities came from an Antony Evans free kick which Chey Dunkley blocked, though he knew little about it, and Alfie Kilgour’s header which came back into play off the foot of the post.

At the other end James Belshaw proved, once again, to be Rovers’ star man and kept the Shrews at bay, especially with a save to deny Tom Baylis five minutes before the break.

The game continued in the same vein in the second half, though the visitors looked sharp on the break and Belshaw again denied Baylis before Rovers, perhaps unexpectedly, made the breakthrough. Collins, leading goalscorer so far this season, played a delightful ball through to substitute Ryan Loft after turning his marker, and the big man took great delight in stroking the ball past Marko Marosi to register his first goal at the Mem.

At that point, it was hoped that Rovers would take the game to their opponents and go on to win comfortably. However, that wasn’t the case and it was Shrewsbury who came more into the game and looked the team most likely to score.

There was less rolling around on the ground after they conceded and their medical team were able to get their breath back as they searched for an equaliser.

It duly arrived with ten minutes remaining and came after three successive corners. The third one did the damage and came in from the left. With Rovers’ defence all at sea another substitute, Ryan Bowman, got on the scoresheet when he rifled the ball into the net from six yards, the expected challenge just not materialising.

And so the points were shared, but not before Taylor Moore saw a shot blocked and Belshaw produced another excellent save to deny Bowman his second goal of the afternoon.

The result, and the performance, left Rovers frustrated by the tactics employed by Shrewsbury and, to be honest, if they play like this every week then I’m surprised anyone pays money to watch them!

Bristol Rovers: Belshaw, Hoole, Kilgour, Gibson, Gordon (Loft, 61), Coutts (Finley, 61), Rossiter, Anderson, Evans, Collins, Marquis (Saunders, 77).

Substitutes: Jaakkola, Whelan, Lawrence, Sesay.

Shrewsbury Town: Marosi. Pennington, Dunkley, Flanagan, Da Costa (Bowman, 54), Baylis (Bloxham, 73), Moore, Leahy, Nurse, Shipley, Udoh (Pyke, 41).

Substitutes: Burgoyne, Caton, Craig, Barlow


Former Rovers defender Luke Leahy was in the Shrewsbury side, while another former Rovers defender, Steve Cross, was in the commentary box

Yellow card issued to John Marquis

Sam Finley began the game as skipper and the armband passed to Paul Coutts when he was substituted

Three substitutes used

Ryan Loft’s first goal at the Memorial Stadium

Thirteen added minutes

(Photos courtesy of JMP)

Keith Brookman