City’s first visit to Greenhous Meadow was one to savour as the Robins edged a nervy five-goal affair in Shropshire.
The visitors looked well in control thanks to a faultless first-half display, taking a deserved lead through Jay Emmanuel-Thomas’ first goal in 13 games.
But Tamika Mkandawire levelled things up shortly before the interval with a speculative long-range shot which found the bottom corner before turning Sam Baldock’s cross into his own net nine minutes after the break.
Again Shrewsbury responded, this time through a Paul Parry header, but recalled winger Joe Bryan found a header of his own to turn the tide back in City’s favour on 63 minutes – this time for good.
Steve Cotterill made one change to his side victorious against Gillingham at Ashton Gate last time out, with Bryan replacing fellow Bristolian Bobby Reid, who dropped out of the squad altogether.
City, attacking a sea of red behind the Shrewsbury goal in the first half, began with a spring in their step as Bryan raced down the left and produced a cross not dealt with by Joe Anyon, who survived an early scare with Sam Baldock lurking.
At the other end, Frank Fielding was forced to race from his line as Adam El-Abd misjudged a high ball, with the keeper taking ball and man in the form of Shrews debutant Sam Foley, who took a painful blow for his troubles.
Then Emmanuel-Thomas sprung to life for the first time, latching on to Stephen Pearson’s pass and ambling into the box in his own unique style, sidestepping defenders only to be denied by a last-ditch tackle just as the shooting chance arose.
The visitors were unquestionably on top and took a deserved lead on 18 minutes at the end of a good spell of pressure.
First Aden Flint found himself in an unfamiliar crossing position, forcing a corner from which Brendan Moloney’s deep delivery was met at the far post by a towering leap from Bryan.
After his header bounced dangerously close to the far post, Shrewsbury failed to clear the danger and the ball found its way to Emmanuel-Thomas on the right corner of the penalty area.
Slowing down to walking pace, the striker shifted the ball on to his left foot and dispatched a ferocious shot high past Anyon at his near post.
City were not about to let up, either. Emmanuel-Thomas’ cross nearly picked out the unmarked Baldock before Wade Elliott’s ambitious volley only just dipped too late on to the top of the net.
It was turning into a really accomplished first-half display. A slick passing move saw Pearson release Derrick Williams down the left, whose cutback just bobbled awkwardly in front of Bryan who duly scuffed his shot against a defender.
There was a minor blip inflicted by Elliott’s panicked clearance to prompt a Shrewsbury corner, from which El-Abd made an important clearing header, but the Birmingham City loanee was soon making an impact again at the right end.
Elliott, now 35, spent his younger years as an out and out winger and showed those instincts to breeze past Jacobson and stand up an inviting cross for Williams to head over the bar from a position of promise.
All in all it was hard to find fault with City’s performance, but all their good work was to be cancelled out in an instant four minutes before the interval.
There seemed no danger when central defender Mkandawire picked up possession 35 yards from goal, but the skipper decided to pull the trigger and sent an arrowing shot low past Fielding to the keeper’s right for a most unlikely equaliser.
Unsurprisingly there was a renewed zest about the hosts after the break. Winger Jon Taylor immediately came infield and hit a rising left-footed shot only a couple of yards over the top, suggesting the second 45 could have a very different feel to it.
But before long City had their lead back, as Jacobson made a mess of Simon Gillett’s diagonal pass, allowing Baldock to steal in and play a low ball across the six-yard box which Mkandawire could only turn into his own net from point-blank range under very little pressure.
However, this time the Robins would be unable to exert their control for a sustained period, as Parry levelled things up for a second time just five minutes later.
Dave McAllister’s burst down the right culminated in a powerful cross impressively diverted back across Fielding by the head of the flying winger at the back post in another kick in the teeth for Cotterill’s men to overcome.
But overcome it they did with the fifth goal of the game on a ground which had seen very few in recent weeks.
It was a straightforward one too, as Emmanuel-Thomas’ corner was attacked at the far post by another giant leap from Bryan, whose downward header had clearly crossed the line before Jacobson stretched to clear.
There was still plenty of time to spare and City would have defending to do. Miles Storey tried his luck from distance and Fielding dived bravely at the striker’s feet, but the Shrews were hardly peppering the City goal.
Cotterill would also lose Flint to injury 20 minutes from time, despite the defender initially attempting to play through a knee problem.
Baldock had the best chance to grab the killer fourth when Emmanuel-Thomas’ free kick glanced off substitute Karleigh Osborne kindly into his path, but Anyon saved smartly down to his right to keep his team in the contest.
City would have to survive a late aerial bombardment as a series of set-pieces were tossed into their box, but Foley headed the last notable chance over the bar in stoppage time.