Youths unbeaten run continues
Despite trailing three times, the youth team showed fight against Shrewsbury to take a point in an entertaining 3-3 draw.
Perhaps with the number of outgoings we have seen from the dev squad over the last week, changes in the youth team were to be expected. As such Mark Howarth and Tinashe Chakwana appear to have been moved up and were not part of the side today. Tommy Wood therefore started the game up top with RJ Pingling, and Ethan Kershaw was moved up from the U-16 team to start alongside Tyler Shrimpton in midfield. On the bench we had a couple more U-16 lads, along with apparent new recruit Ali Koiki, who (according to the squad listings reported as eligible for the Premier League) is now classed as a BFC scholar, and not the trialist he initially was.
We started poorly in the rain at Gawthorpe. Minutes after kick off and with their first attack, the visitors took the lead. Surging through the middle they were afforded too much time and space and the end result was a shot from a central location that just exceeded the reach of Connor King in the goal.
Shrewsbury were playing some nice stuff and looked effective going forward for much of the opening period. By contrast, we weren’t allowed to look too good as the visitors were very adept and stopping attacks dead, usually with cynical pull backs. They couldn’t get close enough to Olatunde Bayode on 15 though, as he weaved in and out before hitting a shot from outside the box. It deflected severely and looped up into the box. Pingling was sharp as a tack and latched on quickly, before despatching under the keeper to level.
We couldn’t maintain equality too long however, and just over 5 minutes later we had been undone by powerful running through our defence and King was beaten low to his left by a smart strike from the Shrews forward. It could have been worse over the remainder of the half as James Clarke manged to hit his own bar with a header and our unbeaten run looked to be under threat. Our only other opportunity of any note was a long range effort from Kershaw that the Salop keeper scrambled to and tipped wide.
The 2nd half started with slightly lighter rain and a slightly stronger Burnley. Five minutes in we were back on terms and it was predominantly through great work by Pingling. Working some interplay on the left with Bayode, the big lad eventually took the ball and zigged and zagged his way through the defence and into the box, firing a low cross over that Tristan Jumeau was on hand to slide home with aplomb.
Real chances were at a premium for much of the 2nd half. Indeed the balance of play was very much like the 1st had been. Wood had a half chance but saw the keeper and defence combine well to block, while Shrewsbury saw a goal saving headed clearance deny them as Clarke bravely put himself in the mix to repel a cross from the right. The visitors were also rightly aggrieved when they were not awarded a penalty following a blatant pull back from Billy Grogan after our defence had been turned by a delightful through ball.
The Shrews were not complaining too long though as they took advantage of some poor defensive play to steal in and grab a third, at a time where you could feel that it would be enough to claim all three points. We made a change and Koiki came on for Jumeau, seeing him play left wing rather than left back as he had in the previous game.
When the equaliser did come it was a solo skilful effort from target man Wood. I always enjoy seeing a big man pull off some delicate skill and that is exactly what happened and he pulled a ball out of flight, controlled and spun through the defence, before hammering home. As we moved into added time Salop still had a chance to steal it, but King was given way too easy a task to save what should have been a hammer blow at the far post.
Team:- Connor King, Billy Grogan, Kwasinkosi Mpofu, Scott Wilson, James Clarke, Ethan Kershaw, Tyler Shrimpton, Olatunde Bayode, Tristan Jumeau (Ali Koiki), Tommy Wood, RJ Pingling
Subs not used:- Marcel Wusiewicz, Akim Samms, Daniel Thomson-Edwards, Leighton Egan