By Gerry Prewett.
Historically Rovers record against the Shrews is a good one with 30 wins, 16 draws and 21 defeats. The recent record is not so good with just two wins and two draws in the last nine meetings.
The first meeting didn’t take place until the 1951-52 season and it was the Shropshire team who came away from Eastville with a share of the points with a 3-3 draw and a 2-1 victory at Gay Meadow. Len Pickard, Vic Lambdon and Ray Warren scored for Rovers in the home game, with Harry Roberts nothing all three of the Shrews goals. In the game at Gay Meadow Vic Lambdon was again on the score sheet for Rovers and Martin Reagan and Arnie Jackson scored for the home team.
Perhaps the most memorable and certainly the one with the biggest attendance was the very first Wembley Play-Off Final at the end of an exhilarating 2006/07 season. It took an exciting sequence of ten unbeaten League games, including the late run of five successive victories, to get Rovers to their date at the new Wembley. It placed Rovers alongside Chelsea as teams who played Finals at both the Millennium and Wembley Stadiums in the same season.
Games between the clubs that season had been very tight. Before the Final, Rovers had won two of the three games and yet only two goals were scored in total. The Final of course turned out to be something of a goal feast with Richard Walker (2) and Sammy Igoe giving Rovers their 3-1 victory as Gasheads almost literally sucked the last goal over the line in stoppage time.
Rovers equal best league victory was the 7-0 thrashing of the Shrews in the 1963-64 season. Bobby Jones (2), Harold Jarman (2), Alfie Biggs (penalty) Dave Stone and Johnny Brown were Rovers scorers. Rovers were 4-0 up after just 16 minutes. It was some kind of ‘payback’ for a 7-2 dumping the previous season, Frank Clarke (3), Jim McLaughlin (3) and Arthur Rowley scored for the Shrews and Keith Williams and Harold Jarman for Rovers.
Rovers visit to Shrewsbury last season was really quite remarkable and totally unexpected. Rovers went there with a poor scoring record and the Shrews with an extremely tight defence.Rovers took the lead in the 11th minute when Tony Craig powerfully headed in Liam Sercombe's corner.
They moved further in front in the 28th minute when skipper Ollie Clarke diverted home a shot from Mark Little. Shrewsbury cut the arrears nine minutes later when Aaron Pierre's low cross from the left was drilled home by Josh Laurent.
Rovers restored their two-goal advantage two minutes into the second half as Sercombe lifted the ball over Joe Murphy from long range after the goalkeeper gave the ball away just outside the penalty area. Ollie Norburn gave Shrewsbury hope by making it 3-2 in the 62nd minute, whipping a free-kick from the left side of the penalty area to the far corner of the net.
Then five minutes later they were level as Laurent headed in his second goal of the game from close range. But Rovers claimed all three points in the 87th minute when Abu Ogogo found the corner of the net with a composed finish to secure an incredible 4-3 away win.