REPORT | ARGYLE 2 SHREWSBURY TOWN 1
Shrewsbury Town 1
On a night when the Green Army paid tribute to the Voice of Argyle, the wonderful Sparksy, his beloved Pilgrims fought back from a half-time deficit to extend their winning run at Home Park to an incredible eight games.
Jordan Shipley had given a stubborn Shrewsbury side the lead on the half-hour and the visitors did a fine job of stifling the Greens until a ferocious near-post drive from Niall Ennis levelled the scores.
Substitute Brendan Galloway then did his Kevin De Bruyne impression on 83 minutes, delivering a wonder-cross for Morgan Whittaker to win it for Argyle.
There was a first start since April for Conor Grant and Argyle manager Steven Schumacher also introduced Ryan Hardie and Matt Butcher from the weekend draw at Bristol Rovers. Joe Edwards, Ennis and Galloway dropped down to the bench.
The Shrews lost 1-0 at home to Charlton on the weekend but the visitors were first to muster an effort on goal, Matthew Pennington’s superb diving header from a corner thundering against Mike Cooper’s crossbar.
Argyle responded with a lovely spell of controlled possession, Grant seeking out the run of Hardie with a clip over the defence that just escaped from the number nine’s outstretched boot.
Shrewsbury, however, were a constant threat on the break, Elliott Bennett floating a deep cross for Rob Street to steer another header that glanced the top of the bar.
Th Pilgrims were forced into playing a patient game, creating the first major chance with a deep corner to Whittaker, who took a touch before skidding a low shot through a sea of bodies and wide Marko Marosi’s far post.
Gradually, Argyle began to assert some control of the midfield, Adam Randell and Jordan Houghton biting into tackles and feeding passes to the front three.
Unfortunately, a moment of defensive hesitation from the Greens presented Shrewsbury with the opening goal, Tom Bayliss slipping a pass to Christian Saydee, who then fed Shipley to slam a confident low strike beyond the stranded Cooper.
The goal gave Shrewsbury something to protect and they were doing a fine job of forcing Argyle into a frustrating spell of probing around the fringes of the danger area. The half ended with another slick move from the visitors, culminating in a grasscutter from Bayliss that proved comfortable for Cooper.
Work to be done for Argyle and to be done without Finn Azaz, who hobbled off just before half-time to be replaced by Ennis. Two more changes came at the interval, Edwards and Sam Cosgrove introduced for Hardie and Grant.
An incisive run down the left from Whittaker and fizzing low cross raised the temperature inside a soggy Home Park, but Cosgrove was unable to find a clean enough strike to seriously trouble Marosi.
Argyle were beginning to apply sustained pressure on the increasingly fraught Salopians, who had set up camp in their own half and, to their credit, they were doing a fine job of frustrating the Pilgrims, with Bayliss a major influence in the engine room.
A deep free-kick floated into the box almost led to a second for the visitors, Pennington nodding it back into the danger for a Rekeil Pyke shot that took a few deflections before being hacked clear.
Argyle needed a moment of inspiration and Randell delivered, driving through the midfield to create room for Whittaker on the left. His pass into the channel for Ennis was met with a first-time strike that skidded through the legs of Marosi at the near post.
A brilliant Bali Mumba run almost doubled the Pilgrim joy moments later but the Shrews just about scrambled his low cross clear in the driving rain. Argyle were now winning the second-balls and the Green Army making a wonderful racket in support of their team.
Galloway replaced Butcher for the closing stages and the substitute soon delivered the most sumptuous cross in that delicious corridor between goalkeeper and defence. Whittaker read the bounce perfectly to cushion an easy finish at the back post.
Randell, again, had been the architect, driving the ball forward from midfield and Whittaker timed his run perfectly, but the cross from Galloway was an absolute worldie.
Argyle had to survive a couple of hairy moments in the closing stages before sealing the three points.
This one was for Sparksy.
Argyle: 1 Mike Cooper; 4 Jordan Houghton, 5 James Wilson (capt), 7 Matt Butcher (22 Brendan Galloway 78), 9 Ryan Hardie (16 Sam Cosgrove H-T), 15 Conor Grant (8 Joe Edwards H-T), 17 Bali Mumba, 18 Finn Azaz (11 Niall Ennis 45), 19 Morgan Whittaker, 20 Adam Randell, 21 Nigel Lonwijk. Substitutes (not used): 25 Callum Burton (gk), 36 Finley Craske, 44 Will Jenkins Davies.
Booked: Cosgrove 68
Shrewsbury Town: 1 Marko Marosi; 3 Luke Leahy (capt), 5 Matthew Pennington, 7 Carl Winchester, 14 Rob Street (9 Ryan Bowman 78), 17 Elliott Bennett, 20 Tom Bayliss, 22 Chey Dunkley, 24 Christian Saydee (15 Rekeil Pyke 62), 26 Jordan Shipley (10 Aiden O'Brien 87), 33 Tom Flanagan. Substitutes (not used): 13 Harry Burgoyne (gk), 6 Taylor Moore, 18 Tom Bloxham, 29 Julien Dacosta.
Booked: Street 78, Leahy 87
Attendance: 15,322 (215 away)
Referee: Andy Woolmer