EFL Trophy: Shrewsbury Town 3 Newcastle United U21s 0 - Report and pictures
Dave Edwards’ first Shrewsbury Town goal in 12-and-a-half years capped a 3-0 EFL Trophy win against a vastly inexperienced Newcastle United under-21 side.
The hometown hero netted his first Salop goal in 15 attempts since returning in January with a rising strike from inside the box three minutes from time.
It added to well-take first-half goals from forward duo Fejiri Okenabirhie and Jason Cummings as Sam Ricketts’ men comfortably built an early 2-0 lead.
Group D rivals Newcastle were a credit to themselves after the break and had much the better of the second half against an experienced Town side, finding the woodwork twice.
But midfielder Edwards popped up late on with a clinical finish, his first Shrewsbury goal since the 3-0 Gay Meadow win over Rochdale in March 2007 - 4,579 days previous - stole the show late on in front of fewer than 1,500 fans.
The three points lifted Town to second in Group D, ahead of Macclesfield.
There are EFL stipulations that as many as four outfield ‘qualified’ players must feature in a line-up and Ricketts named a strong side - albeit making eight changes - to his Town team.
Only Ro-Shaun Williams, Donald Love and Sean Goss survived from the League One Tranmere victory. But changes included Dave Edwards, Fejiri Okenabirhie, Jason Cummings and Shaun Whalley in a side packed with senior stars.
Whalley played in a slightly unfamiliar right wing-back role as Ricketts stuck by his trusted 3-5-2 set-up.
A notable Shrewsbury absence from the 18 was Steve Morison. The experienced forward had not been in the previous three League One matchday squads and was again omitted.
Newcastle’s under-21 side - not including youngster Matty Longstaff after his St James’ Park heroics against Manchester United - was packed full of academy youngsters.
Predictably no stars from Steve Bruce’s first team were involved. The ‘invited’ academy visitors, like Shrewsbury, lost their opening group game - meaning realistically both needed to win to keep any qualification hopes alive.
The young Magpies, led by boss Neil Redfearn, were extremely inexperienced even by academy standards, with nine of their talented youngsters away on loan.
It quickly became apparent that Ricketts’ hosts would see a lot of the ball with the young visitors doing a lot of chasing.
Norwich loanee Louis Thompson was lead orchestrator in the first chance early on as Whalley then crossed for Okenabirhie, who found the side netting.
Whalley sent in a delicious cross for Cummings soonafter, but the Scotland international could not convert a close-range one-on-one against Dan Langley.
Early signs of one-way traffic were soon dismissed as the hard-working youngsters from Newcastle began causing Shrewsbury problems down the hosts’ right.
Winger Thomas Allen was causing Scott Golbourne problems and two fizzed low crosses were somehow not turned in past Joe Murphy.
The visitors were holding their own but Town found some quality to lead midway through the half.
Goss switched the ball out to Whalley on the right and his cross was dummied by Edwards for Okenabirhie who took a touch before lashing a low half-volley fiercely into the bottom right corner.
The opener knocked the wind out of Newcastle’s sails and it wasn’t long before doubled their advantage.
Goss’ left-sided corner was met by the near post run of Cummings who headed in across goal.
The Magpies came close as Whalley fired over his own bar before early sub Ludwig Francillette hit the side netting.
Shrewsbury struggled to get going after the break and it was the north east side who had the better of things. They forced good chances before the hour mark as Thomas Allan flicked on to the crossbar before Oliver Walters whistled one just wide from distance.
Newcastle were by some way the more threatening side after the break. Sub Dylan Stephenson shot tamely at Murphy before Victor Fernandez struck the post from distance. Stephenson’s follow up was straight at Murphy.
Ricketts had already brought Thompson off for Josh Laurent as the on-loan Norwich midfielder got an hour in his legs before Daniel Udoh was introduced from the bench for Cummings.
The second period lacked tempo and the bright orange shirts of Newcastle had little cause for concern until Edwards finished a corner well with a rising strike to cap an otherwise ordinary night in memorable style.
Shrewsbury Town (3-5-2):
Murphy; Williams, Walker, Love; Whalley, Thompson (Laurent, 60), Goss, Edwards ©, Golbourne; Okenabirhie (Barnett, 88), Cummings (Udoh, 73).
Subs not used: O’Leary (gk), Norburn, McCormick, Rowland.
Newcastle United under-21s (4-4-2):
Langley; Sterry, Cass ©, McEntee, Walters; Allan, White, Young (Francillette, 38), Anderson (Fernandez, 38); Scott, Charman (Stephenson, 65).
Subs not used: Turner (gk), Gamblin.
Referee: Peter Wright
Attendance: 1,408 (55 Newcastle fans)