Shrewsbury Town earn a third league win on the spin for the first time since the beginning of the 2017/18 season as Steve Cotterill’s excellent start as manager continues.
What a difference a few weeks makes. Under Sam Ricketts, Shrewsbury Town were laborious and looked uninspiring. However, Steve Cotterill has led the charge and earned three victories on the spin – all against sides that are located in high league positions.
Aaron Pierre’s second half goal was enough for Town to take all three points at the Keepmoat Stadium – building on impressive wins against Hull and Lincoln.
Shrewsbury fans can start to look up the table as the victory in Yorkshire takes the visitors up to 16th place in the table.
Steve Cotterill made just one change from the side that beat Lincoln last time out. Dave Edwards came in for Sean Goss who was not in the eleven. Leon Clarke made a return to a matchday squad for the first time since the end of October after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Shrewsbury may have had a bit of rust to shake off after their weekend fixture was postponed owing to a coronavirus outbreak in the Sunderland camp. And that theory looked to be correct as the home side made the brighter start. Former Town striker Fejiri Okenabirhie latched onto a high ball and prodded beyond the on-rushing Matija Sarkic – but was unable to turn the ball home.
Moments later, the striker did have the ball in the net, but thankfully for Steve Cotterill’s side it was ruled out for offside. Brad Halliday turned possession over to Matt Smith who threaded a neat ball through to Okenabirhie. He calmly slotted under Sarkic but had strayed offside during the build-up.
At the other end, Aussie Matt Millar found space down the flank. His drilled deflected effort from the angle of the box was headed clear by another former Shrewsbury player in the shape of Jon Taylor. Josh Vela fired a long-distance effort wide as Town responded to their hosts positive opening spell.
The match was becoming end to end as both teams took it in turns to threaten the goal. Taylor Richards whipped an effort inches wide of the target. Then a sublime ball from Richards allowed Okenabirhie to race clear – the Rovers man shot narrowly wide of the post.
Town were content in looking for the counterattack as they allowed Doncaster to make inroads. Jon Taylor had the final chance of a lively first half, but his strike didn’t trouble Wolves loanee Matija Sarkic.
The first opportunity of the second half led to the opening goal. Shaun Whalley’s expert free-kick was met by Aaron Pierre whose bullet header left goalkeeper Joe Lumley unable to keep the ball out of the back of the net.
Doncaster responded with a John-Jules attempt that Matija Sarkic comfortably gathered. Town were not content in sitting on their lead and went in search of a second. Tottenham loanee Shillow Tracey sent the returning Leon Clarke on his bike – the striker chipped the ball over Lumley, but it bounced agonisingly wide.
In the dying embers of the contest, Sarkic pulled off a Hollywood save to maintain a third successive clean sheet and crucially the same amount of wins. Arsenal loanee Tyreece John-Jules’ header from close range was magnificently clawed away by the Montenegrin.
Shrewsbury fans will hope for another Christmas cracker when they go to Wigan on Boxing Day – Doncaster welcome Accrington.
Team Line Ups
15. Lumley, 2. Halliday, 4. Anderson, 21. Butler, 3. James, 8. Whiteman, 14. Smith, 11. Taylor (74), 17. Richards (81), 9. Okenabirhie, 19, John-Jules
Subs: 5. Wright, 10. Lokilo (74), 13. Jones, 16. Amos, 24. John, 26. Coppinger (81), 29, Hasani
Subs Not Used: 5. Wright, 13. Jones, 16. Amos, 24. John, 29. Hasani
31. Sarkic, 5. Williams, 24. Ebanks-Landell, 2. Pierre, 14. Millar, 10. Vela, 8. Norburn, 4. Edwards (45), 15. C. Daniels, 7. Whalley, 23. Udoh (69)
Subs: 1. Burgoyne, 3. Golbourne (87), 11. Clarke (69), 20. Tracey (45 – 87), 22. J. Daniels, 27. Pugh, 35. Cummings
Subs Not Used: 1. Burgoyne, 22. J. Daniels, 27. Pugh, 35. Cummings