Shrewsbury 2-0 Gills
Goals either side of half time from Joe Jacobsen and debutant Liam McAlinden sealed all three points for Shrewsbury in a 2-0 win at Greenhous Meadow on Saturday.
The Gills looked likely to grab an equalizer with the score at 1-0 with Danny Kedwell striking the post and Callum Davies forcing a fine save from Chris Weale, but McAlinden, on loan from Wolves, supplied a sucker punch just eight minutes from time to secure the win.
Martin Allen made just one change to the side that defeated MK Dons 3-2 with Charlie Allen replacing the injured Michael Harriman at right-back.
Antonio German was the only change on the bench with Myles Weston and Amine Linganzi, among four others, joining him for company.
As for Shrewsbury they included new signing Cristian Lopez, a Spanish striker who joined from Huddersfield earlier in the week on a one month loan deal, in their starting 11.
He partnered top scorer Tom Bradshaw up front with former Welsh International Paul Parry playing on the left wing.
Gills started the game well and created a half chance on three minutes when Charlie Lee cut inside on the left flank and floated a cross to the far post where Chris Whelpdale headed his effort straight at Weale.
Parry’s free-kick a few minutes later was put wide by centre-half Dave Winfield before Danny Kedwell also missed the target with Whelpdale finding the striker just inside the box with an accurate cross.
Shrewsbury ensured they took their chances when they came along, and they took the lead on 17 minutes when a Parry corner was converted by Jacobsen at the far post.
The full back rose highest to head beyond Stuart Nelson who, up until this point, was completely untroubled.
Four minutes later and Bradshaw came very close to doubling the advantage – a ball over the top was well controlled by the striker, and he hit the shot early to surprise the advancing Nelson, but the effort went just wide of the post.
On 34 minutes the Gills had two chances in a matter of moments – Lee stung the palms of Weale with a direct free kick, before Kedwell’s header struck the foot of the post after Allen had delivered a teasing cross from the left hand side.
Lee had another opportunity just a few minutes later as he received the ball just outside the box. He tucked inside and evaded a challenge before toe poking a shot which was well blocked by the Shrewsbury defence.
Nelson then made a magnificent stop to deny Lopez from close range. Woods scampered down the right to overlap Parry and his cross eventually found its way to the striker and, despite seeing it late, the Gills stopper somehow got his right hand to it to deny a second goal.
Lopez had the final chance of the half when his header went over the bar following another free-kick from Parry on the right wing.
Martin Allen made a change at half time with Myles Weston replacing Whelpdale in midfield – Lee moving to the right hand side to allow the winger to take his normal left side position.
In the early stages it seemed to have an impact with Gills enjoying a lot of possession in the final third, and an equalizer nearly came on 52 minutes.
A foul on Lee saw the referee give a free-kick in a dangerous position with Hollands deciding to take. He picked out Davies who tried to loop a header over the top of Weale in the Shrewsbury goal, but he pedalled back well and collected with both hands.
Barrett was then on hand to block a Bradshaw effort from 20 yards with the striker finding space on the edge of the box following a short pass from Jon Taylor.
The skipper was quick to spot the danger and threw his body at it as the centre forward launched an effort on goal.
Allen was booked on 63 minutes after a late challenge on Jacobsen, and straight from the resulting free-kick Taylor forced a smart near post save from Nelson who palmed the effort wide.
With the Gills eager to draw level, the Manager made his second change with Antonio German replacing Steven Gregory, with the striker joining McDonald and Kedwell in attack.
The hosts also made a change with Connor Goldson coming on for Dave McAllister, and the changes seemed to produce a spark from both sides with Ryan Woods first striking wide from distance before Cody McDonald headed over the bar from Weston’s cross.
On 77 minutes the home side enjoyed a good passage of play with Jacobsen managing to produce a left foot cross which found Bradshaw, he held off a couple of Gills defenders before finding Wildig whose shot was well off target.
Taylor and Bradshaw both had efforts blocked by Barrett before McAlinden, having come on for Lopez, finally did grab the second.
The striker was played in on the left hand side, he looked up and placed his shot to Nelson’s left hand side as he came out to narrow the gap, but he was unable to block the strike.
Bayo Akinfenwa immediately came on for Kedwell, but with only eight minutes to go, any chance of a comeback seemed unlikely.
However this didn’t stop them having a go with Weston finding Akinfenwa inside the box, he played a slow ball across the face of goal for McDonald, but at full stretch he couldn’t quite make contact to convert.
In injury time sub Adam Reach forced another save from Nelson low to his left, but despite their best efforts, Gills were unable to find a way through and force a nail biting conclusion.
Shrewsbury: Weale, Jacobsen, Winfield, McAllister (Goldson 72), Bradshaw, Taylor, Wildig, Mkandawire, Parry (Reach 88), Woods, Lopez (McAlinden 74)
Unused subs: Anyon, Jones, McQuade, Marsden.
Gills: Nelson, Allen, Davies, Barrett, Martin, Gregory (German 70), Hollands, Whelpdale, Lee, McDonald, Kedwell.
Unused subs: Howard, Legge, Linganzi, Dack.
Bookings: Allen (63)
Goals: Jacobsen (17), McAlinden 81
Referee: Mr G Salisbury