Shrewsbury Town saw their last home game of the season against Ipswich with a rare goalless draw.
The Hosts, with boss Steve Cotterill returning for his second game, loudly calling for shots from the directors box, have only played a third goalless draw in 53 games this season in a contest again lacking in action. a revealing final touch.
Neither side was able to force a winner despite a lack of attempts in a tied contest. Shaun Whalley, Tom Bloxham and substitutes Dave Edwards and Daniel Udoh all got closer to Shrews. James Norwood and Troy Parrott missed some decent chances for the visitors in the middle of the table.
But nothing separated the Shropshire League’s first meeting of these teams in 33 years, as Salop closed his home campaign with just five wins from 23 attempts.
The 0-0 draw was, in a way, the first of that score to an empty Montgomery Waters Meadow this season.
Cotterill gave Bloxham, 17, a second start in as many days after his very impressive debut against Oxford on Saturday.
The former Leicester youngster, a freshman academic, received rave reviews from Aaron Wilbraham for his first start in blue and amber.
And the Oswestry School alumnus was once again cheered on by his family, watching via an iFollow feed in the Meadow parking lot.
Bloxham led the line, supported by Shaun Whalley, selected ahead of senior forwards Udoh and Curtis Main.
Donald Love was brought back to Cotterill’s side to operate at right-back, while David Davis returned to his role as a natural midfielder.
Brad Walker drew attention as part of Shrewsbury’s three full-backs, with Ethan Ebanks-Landell missing from Town’s roster just a fifth time in the league the stopper failed to start.
The visitors Ipswich, who traveled for the initial match which was postponed due to a frozen pitch on February 13, arrived after ending a terrible six-game winless and scoreless streak with a 2-1 win in Swindon, already relegated on Saturday.
Paul Cook had since replaced Paul Lambert in charge at Portman Road for their first Championship game at Shrewsbury since 1988. That all changed for the Tractor Boys, now under ambitious new American ownership.
Cotterill took up his sitting position at the back of the Roland Wycherley Stand just before kick-off in an ever-changing climate in Shrewsbury that included pouring rain, a piercing wind and dazzling sunshine.
And the boss will have been happy with the way his team launched the competition. They were sort of the best within 15 or 20 minutes of opening, as they wrote down the visitors and moved the ball well under the loud commands of their manager who was watching them from his aerial vantage point.
Love missed a good opportunity to score a cross at the back post on Josh Vela’s glorious change to Town before former Ipswich defender Matthew Pennington directed a Nathanael Ogbeta corner in 10 minutes.
As Cotterill waited until the second half against Oxford to start ramping up volume levels, he was the lead voice dictating and organizing the game against the Tractor Boys, clearly audible across the empty meadow.
Norwood, the visitors’ top scorer, took the lead in his first attacking attempt. City captain Ollie Norburn saw a goal strike back from an open corner blocked by a sea of bodies. Town and Cotterill called handball, but officials were not affected.
Tottenham’s first striker on loan, Parrott, had a well-beaten 20-yard strike from Harry Burgoyne, before the city keeper bet a cross shot from Armando Dobra and his defenders were able to clear.
But the visitors were mostly kept out of danger, mainly thanks to Walker, who was impressively out of position at the back.
After a calmer spell, Shrews raised the bar in the final seven or eight minutes before the break. The hosts forced two very good openings to break the deadlock, but were thwarted twice by Ipswich goalkeeper David Cornell.
First, Norburn’s neat ball freed Whalley to the left side of the penalty area, but Town’s No.7 saw his left-footed strike blocked by Cornell.
Moments later, Love made a nice pass down the right flank to free Bloxham, who anticipated the luck with a good run.
The long-haul forward came up against Cornell head-to-head, albeit at a narrow right angle, and his low finish to the far corner was well saved by the goalkeeper’s outstretched leg .
Cook was showing signs of being particularly unhappy with referee Lee Swabey before the break and, unsurprisingly, his team came out shooting after the break.
Ipswich, briefly, had Shrews write at that point and a deflected strike from Gwion Edwards nearly fell on a white-shirted teammate without Burgoyne’s intervention.
A good game from Norwood fed Edwards for Ipswich, but the latter’s rise to strength was well over. Parrott then tested Burgoyne with fierce driving from a distance.
The shrews were sharper for the changes. Whalley was successful twice, first to unsuccessfully claim a penalty before failing to find Edwards who was free on goal.
Ipswich continued to threaten and Parrott skied a glorious chance down the Edwards center stretch with 20 minutes left. Norwood sabotaged a glorious chance at the back of the post moments later.
But the changes to feature Goss and Harry Chapman late inspired even more Town, which created a glut of late openings.
First, a magnificent reverse pass from the excellent Chapman freed Edwards but Cornell stood up to refuse the midfielder. Edwards recovered the rebound and crossed intelligently for Udoh, who could only graze the crossbar with his header under pressure.
Then Chapman’s plunging header to Goss’s cross was picked up by Cornell, before the visitors missed a key opportunity late in the race, as forward Norwood recovered when he was free in the box.
But there was to be no winner in a quiet, low-key end to a tough home campaign.
Burgoyne; Pennington, Walker, Pierre; Love (Edwards, 61 ans), Norburn ©, Vela, Walker, Ogbeta (Goss, 71); Whalley (Chapman, 77), Bloxham (Udoh, 61).
Sports reporter with the Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Covering the town of Shrewsbury and with a keen eye for non-league and base.