Full-time report: Shrewsbury Town 1 Stevenage 0
- Credit: Archant
Stevenage came up short when it mattered in what was their biggest match of the Sky Bet League 1 season so far.
They went into the game knowing that defeat here would be a serious blow to their chances of staying in League 1 next season – and after they gifted Shrewsbury Town a goal 10 minutes into the second half they were unable to find that all-important equaliser leaving the hosts with a deserved three points.
The defeat sees Town leapfrog Boro, leaving Stevenage bottom of the table and four points from safety with just five matches remaining.
Stevenage made just the one change from the side that drew with Wolves on Tuesday, with Craig Reid coming into the team in place of John Mousinho.
Chris Day made an early save, getting down low to his right and pushing away Jon Taylor’s low drive, and it was the home side that went on to make most of the early running.
Boro failed to take advantage of the pace they had down the right where Luke Freeman and Curtis Obeng waited for the ball and instead the balls they hit up to Francois Zoko just came back to them time and again.
Too many times the Boro attack broke down, and when on one occasion Town hit them on the counter Tamika Mkandawire tried his luck from distance with Day palming away his long-distance effort to safety.
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Bira Dembele then had to get in the way of a Tom Eaves shot to deflect it wide of goal as Shrewsbury continued to probe for the opening goal.
The best chance of the half, though, fell to Stevenage, and the out-of-form Zoko.
Lucas Akins had weaved his way past two players out on the right with the game into first-half injury time, and when he picked out his striker Zoko could only head weakly straight at Weale from six yards out.
Stevenage made a change at the start of the second half with the on loan Tom Flanagan coming on for his debut in place of the injured Darius Charles, but they were forced onto the back foot early doors with Day saving a fine shot from Paul Parry.
Boro had changed to three at the back, but with Freeman playing high up the line and Dembele tucking in Taylor was finding plenty of room down the right.
A problem area this season for Stevenage has been at left-back and with Charles injured Taylor was having the run of that side of the pitch, so when Freeman lost the ball 25 yards out Mkandawire found his team-mate and he fired past Day from just inside the area.
Boro made a final change with Filipe Morais coming on for Reid with 12 minutes remaining, and almost straight after coming on to the field Zoko’s flick on found the winger and his shot was stopped by Weale before Akins’ follow up was blocked by Connor Goldson.
Shrewsbury substitute Ryan Woods then smacked a low shot which Day got behind to stop the home side from doubling their lead, but then Shrewsbury were reduced to 10 men when Asa Hall brought down Freeman and was shown a second yellow card.
Town had a glorious chance to make sure of all three points deep into seven minutes of injury time, but after Morais had been beaten for pace Mkandawire found himself one-on-one with Day only for the Boro goalkeeper to stick out a leg and keep the ball out.
Yet it did not matter as just seconds later the full-time whistle blew, leaving Stevenage bottom of the League 1 table.
Every game now, it seems, is a must-win for Westley’s men.
Shrewsbury Town: Weale, Jacobson, Iorfa, Taylor (Winfield 90), Wildig (Woods 72), Mkandawire, Parry, Goldson, Eaves, Atajic (Foley 77), Hall. Subs: Anyon, Miller, Bradshaw.
Stevenage: Day, Charles (Flanagan 46), Obeng, Dembele, Ashton, Freeman, Akins, Heslop (Doughty 29), Smith, Reid (Morais 77), Zoko. Subs: Goodliffe, N’Guessan, Hartley, Henderson.
Ref: Richard Clark
Att: 5,178 (225)