City 0 Shrewsbury 1
Report by Ian Bason
As expected, Nigel Pearson made 8 changes from the starting eleven against Chelsea, with only Moore, Mahrez and Konchesky (who was captain for the night) retained. I thought Allbrighton and Vardy may have seen some action tonight, but neither were included.
So a chance for those players currently warming the bench to stake a claim for a starting place, while first team competitive debuts were handed to James Pearson, Ryan Watson and Michael Cain, the latter of the trio has always impressed me in the U21 games I have seen, all had a chance to push for more first team squad involvement.
For Shrewsbury, the announcement of James Weslowski‘s name on the tannoy received a warm welcoming cheer from City fans, who was always liked him for his competitive challenges in midfield with his City career spoilt by two bad injuries, which happened at the wrong time as Nigel Pearson never saw the best of him, choosing to release him, but I’m glad he has made a decent football career. The Foxes Trust syndicate actually sponsored James in the 2005/6 season when he made his debut http://foxestrust.co.uk/player-sponsorship
City appeared to line up with Gary Taylor-Fletcher (GTF) playing behind Chris Wood in a 4-4-1-1 system, but as the half progressed GTF dropped deeper and deeper to help the debuting central pairing,and the gap between Wood and the rest of the side grew. With any longer balls snaffled up by the imposing Grandison who had the physical advantage over Wood.
City started brightly with Mahrez winning a corner within 30 seconds of the kick off, however Shrewsbury created their first chance in the 2nd minute for which Hamer made a fine save only for offside to be given.
Around the 10th minute Konchesky’s shot was easily saved followed quickly with a swift shot over the bar by Shrewsbury’s lively Clark, who impressed for much of the game, driving a further shot over 3 minutes later. Shrewsbury had another quick break in the 17th minute with Demetriou firing well over.
In the 23rd minute, City had a claim for a penalty when Mahrez went down, however the referee took a different view and booked Mahrez for diving. As I was sitting facing the opposite penalty area I couldn’t tell if the booking was justified, harsh or wrong.
Mahrez and Knockaert swapped wings a couple of times, to little or no effect, and Knockaert was having one of those games where his choice of what do next was often the wrong one. Mahrez on the other hand tested the Shrewsbury keeper again in the 29th minute.
In the 30th minute Shrewsbury Woods was booked for deliberate hand ball when falling onto it to stop a Knockaert run on the edge of the penalty area, and from the free kick Knockaert found the head of Wood which unluckily hit the bar and bounced clear.
However it was Shrewsbury who broke the deadlock following one of several clumsy challenges by GTF (in fact the referee, counted them at this point warning a yellow card would follow on the next one). This foul however was conceded centrally outside the penalty area, and Mangan duly cleared the wall and found the net, somehow injuring himself in the process resulting in his substitution.
Shrewsbury then proceeded to dominate the game, passing the ball around well, until the sight of the extra 2 minutes seemed to wake City up, with a Pearson cross reaching Wood, but his shot was blocked for a corner.
Cain then made a good run, leading to a Knockaert shot which was easily saved. Half time with Shrewsbury ahead, which was a fair reflection of the game.
Half time discussions centred on whether we “really wanted it” and whether there would be a “Jose” wake up call delivered by Nigel at half time. The fact that the first act of any note in the second half was in the 56th minute, when Nugent and King replaced Cain and Watson seems to indicate otherwise. Both debutants had failed to get a grip on the game, with the midfield being controlled by Shrewsbury.
Schlupp than replaced Mahrez in the 69th minute with the hope that pace may cause Shrewsbury more problems than the combined Mahrez and Knockaert dribbling double act. Knockaert seemed to have been given license to wander in the second half, but with Schlupp’s introduction, Knockaert returned to the right wing and Nugent pushed forward in a 4-4-2 set up.
In the 74th minute, City had a let off with Clark hitting the bar and Demetriou somehow failing to convert the rebound, but within 3 minutes it was City’s turn to hit the woodwork when a mazy Knockaert run left him close to the goal line when he pulled back the ball for Nugent to hit the inside of the post, with the ball going across the goal before being hooked clear.
Shrewsbury used sensible tactics of trying to retain the ball and run it down to the corner flag as the full time whistle approached. With 4 minutes added, City had two final chances which Konchesky fired over and Wood headed wide.
Nigel Pearson in his after match interview stated those who had been given the chance to claim a starting spot had failed to do so, and the game had just provided a further clear indication that the squad needed strengthening.
While we should hopefully see a few returning from injury against Arsenal, most City fans eyes will be hoping to see several new faces holding up their new numbered shirt in what seems the only way of being certain a player has arrived.
Many City fans applauded Shrewsbury off the pitch at the end, as there was no doubt they were deserved winners tonight.
CITY: Hamer; Pearson, Wasilewski, Moore, Konchesky; Mahrez (Schlupp 69), Cain (King 56), Watson (Nugent 56), Knockaert; Taylor-Fletcher; Wood. Subs not used: Morgan, Hopper, Barmby, Smith,
SHREWSBURY: Leutwiler, Grandison, Demetriou, Woods, Goldson, Collins (Robinson 83, Gayle, Wesolowski, Mangan (Vernon 40), Knight-Percival, Clark (Akpa Akpro 83). Subs not used: Wildig, Caton, Halstead, Smith.
REFEREE: Simon Hooper Attendance: 8017
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation