The archetypal game of two halves cost Burton Albion the chance of getting back to winning ways in the league as they went down to three second half goals at Greenhous Meadow against promotion challengers Shrewsbury Town. Albion looked bright and lively in the first half and arguably were the better side on the back of their weekend FA Cup exploits. However the Shrews came out strongly in the second period and once Jon Taylor put the hosts ahead nine minutes after the break, Graham Turner's side never looked back and two further goals sealed victory.
The Brewers returned to League 2 action for the first time since January 3rd having slipped down to 21st place in the table due to their inactivity. Shrewsbury started the game in eighth place fourteen points ahead of Albion but with the Brewers having no fewer than six games in hand suggesting that the two sides were matched more closely than the league table suggested.
Embarking on their mammoth 25 game run-in Paul Peschisolido opted to start the game with the eleven players that finished the FA Fourth round tie at Burnley on Saturday afternoon. That meant recalls to the starting line up for Ryan Austin at right back in place of Andy Corbett as well as Lewis Young beginning the game on the right side of midfield as John McGrath dropped to the bench to accommodate the return to a 4-4-2 formation. Greg Pearson, who wrote himself in the annals of Burton history with the club's first ever Football League goal on Shrewsbury's ground last season, also earned a recall to partner loan signing Calvin Zola who was looking to add to his debut goal for the club in his first league appearance for the club.
Aaron Webster, who made way for Pearson, joined McGrath on a strong looking bench with youngsters James Ellison and Garyn Preen also given the opportunity to get some pitch time.
Shrewsbury were able to name former Albion loan signing James Collins in their starting line-up alongside another new signing David Davis on loan from Wolves.
Both sides made a bright start with Darren Moore having to produce an immaculately timed challenge to deny James Collins a shot on goal and the Brewers had the ball in the back of the net through Lewis Young in the fifth minute but an offside flag against one of his team mates immediately ruled out what would have been his first goal for the club.
Burton continued to look dangerous and a wickedly curling cross from Scott Malone was just too high for Jacques Maghoma and when Russell Penn picked up on the rebound his effort across goal was deflected away for a corner.
The home goal led a charmed life in the 14th minute as Albion went agonisingly close to opening the scoring. Adam Bolder headed Scott Malone's corner towards the goal and Pearson, then Zola both attempted to force the ball over the line with the Shrews having to make a desperate clearance on the line from Kevin McIntyre to keep the game scoreless.
Shrewsbury hit back though and only a fine save diving to his left from Legzdins kept out Matt Harrold. The striker appeared to foul Nathan Stanton as he challenged for the ball but there was no doubting the quality of the strike that followed it. Youngster Jon Taylor, on his debut for the Shrews also stung the palms of Legzdins as he got away from Malone all too easily down the right and fired at goal from the edge of the box.
The game was flowing from end to end and on the half hour mark Albion went oh so close to taking the lead. Referee Mick Russell played advantage when Greg Pearson was bundled over on the half way line and Adam Bolder picked out a surging run from Malone whose cross was diverted goalwards by Zola with goalkeeper Ben Smith clawing the ball away at full stretch. As Albion kept the pressure up the ball came back out to Pearson whose rasping drive was then tiipped around the post by the Shrews goalkeeper.
Forty minutes in and Mark Wright, leading scorer for the Shrews this season, got his firts sight of goal. the livewire winger got around Ryan Austin for the first time and under pressure got his shot away but could only find the side netting.
Russ Penn also tried his luck as the first half came towards its close. Shrewsbury failed to clear their lines and when Scott Malone intercepted a clearance from David Davis, the ball fell kindly for the Albion midfielder to hit a volley on target but straight into the arms of Smith.
Half time: Shrewsbury Town 0-0 Burton Albion
Albion made a bright start to the second period but found themselves behind nine minutes after the restart. Mat Sadler's free kick into the box was only half cleared and when the ball fell nicely to TAYLOR on the edge of the penalty area, the youngster fired through a crowded penalty area to notch his first senior goal.
Malone was close to an equaliser five minutes later as good work by Zola and Maghoma on the edge of thepenalty area played in the youngster who could only watch as his low ball across the six yard area went narrowly wide of the target.
Albion's fist change of the evening came on 67 minutes when Aaron Webster was introduced to the action in place of Lewis Young.
Things got worse for the Brewers on 70 minutes as the shrews doubled their lead. A low cross into the Albion six yard area caused havoc with Matt Harrold going to ground. The ball came out to Wright on the left hand side of the penalty area and when he worked it back into the middle. TAYLOR's shot rebounded off Penn, back onto the young midfielder and into the net.
Two became three in as many minutes as the Shrews broke forward at pace and Matt HARROLD took aim from 20 yards and beat Legzdins low into the bottom corner.
Paul Peschisolido made his final two changes with eleven minutes to go with John McGrath replacing Russell Penn in the centre of midfield and young striker James Ellison given only his second league outing of the season in place of the tiring Zola.
Shrewsbury also made changes with the lively Davis replaced by Craig Disley and young striker Tom Bradshaw replacing goalscorer Matt Harrold.
SHREWSBURY: Smith, Sadler, Sharps, Cansdell-Sherriff, Wright, McIntyre, Harrold (Bradshaw, 86), Collins, Grandison, Taylor, Davis (Disley, 83). Substitutes: Neal, McAllister, Leslie, Ainsworth, Goldson.
ALBION: Legzdins; Austin, Stanton, Moore, Malone; Young (Webster, 67), Penn (McGrath, 79), Bolder, Maghoma; Pearson, Zola (Ellison, 79). Substitutes: Poole, Boertien, James, Preen.
GOALS: Shrewsbury - Taylor (55, 70), Harrold (73)
Referee: Mr. M.Russell (Hertfordshire)
Attendance: 4,343 (211 away)