Shrewsbury hold the advantage after win over Charlton
Jon Nolan proves the difference.
Shrewsbury will take a one-goal lead into the second-leg of their League One play-off semi-final against Charlton after Jon Nolan’s fine finish secured a 1-0 victory at The Valley.
The division’s third-placed team, who had finished 16 points ahead of their hosts, absorbed early pressure and cleverly bought time until scoring the goal they deserved through the impressive Nolan.
Regardless, Charlton possess one of League One’s strongest squads and to the extent that only last month they won 2-0 at the Montgomery Waters Meadow.
Having been largely outplayed they will have to significantly improve in Sunday’s second leg, and seal a similarly convincing win if they are to reach the final at Wembley on 27 May.
The hosts — being watched from the directors’ box by their potential new owner, Australian businessman Andrew Muir — had made a promising start.
In only the fourth minute, Josh Magennis headed narrowly wide of the right post following Ben Reeves’ right-wing cross.
Jake Forster-Caskey then swiftly followed that by breaking from midfield to the edge of the area, and sending a low, left-footed shot even closer to the same target.
When the ball bounced kindly for Nicky Ajose, the striker ambitiously shot from 25 yards but despite connecting well his effort was both high and wide, and they thereafter struggled to create clear-cut chances.
Shrewsbury first threatened in the 17th minute when Nolan, having been fed by Bryn Morris, forced a fine save from Ben Amos after a dangerous run and shot from midfield, and the goalkeeper also then saved Carlton Morris’ header from the resultant corner.
Shaun Whalley then played in Morris from the right, and from 20 yards he curled towards the far left post, where the diving Amos again did well to parry wide.
It was midway through the second half when the visitors enjoyed another period in which they almost scored. Amos, again, impressed in punching clear from Whalley’s corner while under pressure.
From a free-kick Whalley then pulled back to the unmarked Nolan, and his curling shot crept just wide of the left post.
Charlton’s Forster-Caskey curled a further free-kick, from the edge of the area, straight at goalkeeper Dean Henderson, and Ben Reeves then connected well with Ajose’s lay-off before watching his rising shot clear the crossbar.
Nolan’s winning goal arrived in the 80th minute. Following a promising build-up, substitute Stefan Payne teed him up from 25 yards and he connected well to shoot beyond Amos and off the underside of the crossbar.
Magennis’ again went close with a header in stoppage time, from another Forster-Caskey free-kick, but Henderson again saved to preserve Shrewsbury’s advantage.