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Shrewsbury Town ended a three-game winless streak with a 1-0 home win over Blackpool, Jon Nolan burying the winner in 54th minute to keep his side second in the Sky Bet League One table.
It was a hard-fought affair at Montgomery Waters Meadow as neither side really stamped their authority on a wet day in Shropshire.
The home side started the brighter, Alex Rodman surging down the left-hand side to win a corner that was easily dealt with before the winger was presented with the first half-chance of the day.
Receiving a misplaced pass from the Tangerines’ Callum Cooke, Rodman cut inside off the left flank and looked to drive at the heart of the visiting defence. As space opened up 25 yards-out the former Notts County man attempted a shot, however his effort was easily blocked by Curtis Tilt – an action that caused the central defender some pain and discomfort.
Following the break in play following Tilt’s treatment the game hit somewhat of a lull, with no real chances at either end for the following minutes.
Town goalkeeper Dean Henderson was called into the first meaningful action of the day soon after, being forced to tip over a ball that had skidded off the head of one of his own players from a Jay Spearing free-kick that was destined for the top corner.
Nathan Delfouneso was then caught offside when played through on goal, before Birmingham City loanee Viv Solomon-Otabor could only scuff wide from 20 yards after a direct run at the Shrews’ backline.
Nolan fired harmlessly over from 25 yards after being played in by James Bolton, the right-back nipping in ahead of Solomon-Otabor to play in the central midfielder however his left-footed effort did not trouble Ryan Allsop in the Seasiders’ goal.
Shortly after the restart came the main talking point of the days action: Blackpool right-back Kelvin Mellor found himself in the penalty area and, having neatly side-stepped a couple of challenges was felled by a dangling Shrewsbury leg. Despite protests, referee Andy Woolmer was not convinced – and it proved a crucial decision from what happened soon after.
From there Paul Hurst’s men advanced down the right-hand side, and after the ball found its way to Nolan, the ex-Chesterfield ace ran at the Blackpool defence before smashing low and hard with his left foot to Allsop’s right to give his side the lead.
Strikers Armand Gnanduillet and Danny Philliskirk were thrown on in place of captain Jimmy Ryan and Sean Longstaff by boss Gary Bowyer as the men from Bloomfield Road probed for an equaliser, and it was Gnanduillet who came close, losing his marker at a corner to bullet a head just wide of the left-hand post.
Bolton failed to double the advantage as he somehow headed wide from a corner when unmarked from seven yards out – and he almost came to rue that missed opportunity.
A Jay Spearing free-kick from out on the right was met by Gnanduillet, however the giant Frenchman could only direct his header straight at Henderson from ten yards.
From there on in the high-flying Shrews were able to see out the remainder of the match with little trouble as the visitors did not threaten their goal.
As the clock ticked towards full-time man-of-the-match Nolan almost scored a spectacular second. With the ball seemingly running out of play for a throw-in on the right-hand touchline 45 yards from goal, the Liverpudlian sent a chipped effort flying towards the goal. With Allsop scrambling backwards the 25-year-old just about managed to tip the ball over to prevent what would have been a surefire Goal of the Season contender.
The three points sees the Shrews maintain their position hot on the heels of Wigan Athletic at the summit as they themselves seek to remain ahead of the closing play-off pack. As for Blackpool, it is now three-successive defeats in the league, with fans and player alike surely yearning for the early-season form they displayed.