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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
15:29 10th December 2014

The Town were left frustrated as a series of fine saves from Shrewsbury goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler kept the Hatters at bay in a goalless draw in front of the live Sky Sports cameras.

The Hatters hit the post in the first half through Jake Howells before Scott Griffiths and Andy Drury were denied by saves from Leutwiler.

In the second half the Town continued to press, and after the visitors were reduced to 10 men when Nathaniel Knight-Percival was sent-off for a second bookable offence, the Shrews had Leutwiler to thank for keeping out goal-bound efforts from his own defenders and, in the final minute, Shaun Whalley.

The Town huffed and puffed but could not break the deadlock, but despite the stalemate the Hatters did lift themselves up to fourth in the League 2 table.

It all started with the Town showing five changes to the side that lost to Cambridge in the Cup – including a debut for on-loan striker Jayden Stockley – and the Town started well and came mighty close to going ahead on three minutes. Howells, on his 299th appearance for the Hatters, drove a low right-foot shot from the edge of the box that struck the foot of the post and bounced away to safety.

It took new boy Stockley six minutes to show the Town faithful of his ability when taking a right-wing cross from Luke Rooney on his chest before volleying a shot from 20 yards just over the bar.

Stockley overcame a slight knock just after the quarter-hour but was able to continue and on 19 minutes the Town came close to scoring twice with two chances in quick succession. Firstly Griffiths saw a volley kept out well by Shrews goalkeeper Leitwiler – the ball bouncing dangerously through a sea of bodies in the box – before the visiting stopper then clawed Drury’s curling shot. 

The Town continued to press the Shrews back, with Mark Tyler’s only real work of the first half to rush out to prevent a corner. But despite their dominance the Hatters could not find a way through the visitors’ defence before referee Adcock signalled for half-time.

The Hatters started well on resumption of the second half, Stockley acrobatically volleying wide after Griffiths had nodded on a Drury corner into the danger area. The Town then thought they should have had a penalty on 51 minutes when the ball struck Shrewsbury’s Cameron Gayle’s hand in the box but nothing was given.

Shrewsbury were offering little going forward and Tyler only had to watch Liam Lawrence drill a free-kick inches wide of the post. But the Town keeper needed to be on his toes on 57 minutes when James Collins’ cross-cum-shot from the left flank almost crept into the top corner until Tyler tipped the ball over the crossbar.

As the Hatters began to get frustrated, Still made his first change of the night, introducing Whalley for Rooney on 64 minutes and, four minutes, later the Town came close to scoring when Michael Harriman’s cross searching out Luke Wilkinson at the back-post was directed away from goal by Leutwiler.

The Town had been narked by a series of decisions by referee Adcock but, with 20 minutes to go, the Hatters were given the opportunity to find a way through against a 10-man Shrewsbury team following Knight-Percival’s sending off. The defender was booked twice for two challenges on Jonathan Smith in the space four minutes and Adcock brandished the red card.

Against 10 men the Hatters went in search of a winner but were left frustrated in the final five minutes by the excellence of Leutwiler. The Shrews’ Swiss stopper reacted smartly to prevent an own goal with three minutes left when he parried away Connor Goldson’s clearance. And with time almost up the Hatters almost won it only for Leutwiler to stick out an arm to deny substitute Shaun Whalley’s low shot at the near post.

The Town poured forward in the final four added minutes but they couldn’t conjure up a winner.

TOWN: Tyler; Harriman, Griffiths (sub Miller 79), McNulty, Wilkinson; Doyle, Smith, Drury, Rooney (sub Whalley 64), Howells, Stockley.

Subs not used: Franks, Cullen, Justham, Robinson, Walker.

Attendance: 7,666, including 177 from Shrewsbury.

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