Report: Bristol City 1-1 Shrewsbury Town
Saturday, January 4th 2020
Famara Diédhiou’s first-half header would be cancelled out to take City and Shrewsbury Town's Emirates FA Cup third round tie to a replay in Shropshire.
After a slow start, Diédhiou headed in from a Niclas Eliasson cross - the winger's 11th assist of the campaign - after half an hour as City ended the opening 45 minutes on top at Ashton Gate.
They could have gone further ahead but for Kasey Palmer who was twice denied by the Shrews keeper and the visitors levelled soon after the interval, when Sean Goss rifled home in front of the travelling fans.
Town hit the woodwork as City held on, though substitute Andreas Weimann impressed with his energy but couldn’t find the target.
City named six changes for the visit of Shrewsbury, with Niki Mäenpää making his first start of the season in goal. Taylor Moore captained the Robins from defence, where Pedro Pereira stepped in at right-back, and in midfield Ádám Nagy was joined by Palmer and Han-Noah Massengo.
The new faces meant no place in the starting XI for Daniel Bentley, Josh Brownhill or Jack Hunt who were rested, with Ashley Williams suspended. Weimann and Korey Smith moved to the bench which included a spot for the returning Jamie Paterson following his loan spell at Derby County.
Mäenpää, on his first appearance since April, had two early saves to make, the first against Josh Laurent before he tipped away Ryan Giles’ goal-bound cross. Aaron Pierre headed off target from the resulting set piece.
Though the Shrews had been more threatening in the early exchanges, Marley Watkins saw sight of goal with two headers though neither troubled Joe Murphy. In fact the first task the keeper would have was picking the ball out of his net when City took the lead after 30 minutes.
Eliasson played a short corner before whipping a cross towards the striker who headed the ball into the far corner of the goal.
It was the lift City needed and only fine goalkeeping denied them more goals before the break. Palmer was the man to be denied twice in quick succession; first his volley was pushed away by Murphy before Palmer’s header from the resulting corner was clawed out by the Shrews shotstopper. Watkins was close but not close enough to getting on the end of the rebound.
However, Lee Johnson’s side conceded the equaliser minutes into the second half. City dealt with a cross from the right, which was cleared as far as Goss on the edge of the area, who drilled his shot beyond Mäenpää, courtesy of the post.
The Robins rallied with Palmer questionably caught in the penalty area after a neat one-two with Diédhiou but referee John Busby saw no foul, before Eliasson curled a free kick inches wide.
Lee Johnson looked to the bench in a double change with attack-minded players. It meant Jay Dasilva and Watkins would make way for O’Dowda and Weimann just before the hour-mark and both were involved immediately.
O’Dowda’s pass found Palmer in space and his eye-of-the-needle ball picked out the run of Weimann whose low shot was well saved by the advancing Murphy.
Shrewsbury had been kept fairly quiet since their goal but City relied on the woodwork when a shot out of nowhere from Laurent beat the helpless Mäenpää and ping back into play via the upright. Fortunately the ball fell to a player in red and white who cleared the danger.
Last-ditch defending from Tomas Kalas, who would shortly be replaced by Nathan Baker, prevented Shaun Whalley from testing Mäenpää one-on-one when Shrews captain Oliver Norburn played the forward in. He looked destined to test the City keeper but the club’s record signing showed his worth with exceptional covering to win back the ball at the last moment.
City’s possession-based build up led to a chance through Weimann but he couldn’t steer the shot on target and as the Shrews piled on the late pressure, City held firm to the sound of the final whistle.
The Robins will return to Sky Bet Championship action in a week’s time with a trip to Wigan Athletic.
Photography by JMPUK.