An early goal by Fejiri Okenabirhie and a late goal by Taylor Richards earned Rovers three points on the road on the for the first time since January.
Andy Butler made three changes to the side that were beaten by Burton Albion in midweek. AJ Greaves and Branden Horton dropped to the bench while Omar Bogle missed out through injury. The biggest piece of team news was a start for Butler for the first time since being named manager – this was part of a reshuffle at the back with Joe Wright moving to right back, and Reece James making a return to left back following his completion of the concussion protocols.
Tyeece John-Jules returned to the squad for the first time since picking up an injury at Swindon Town in mid-January and Taylor Richards made his first start since April 5.
There were few chances in the opening exchanges – Rovers worked the ball out to James Coppinger whose drilled ball towards the back post evaded everyone while a couple of ambitious efforts from Shrewsbury – Josh Vela from open play and Harry Chapman from a free kick – were over and then easily saved.
Rovers took the lead after 15 minutes through a piece of good luck. A pass back to a defender looked a safe option for the home side but as he slipped to the ground, Okenabirhie was left one-on-one with keeper Matija Sakic and fired beyond him.
It took a further 15 minutes for either side to register a shot – but like London busses they all came along at once. Another Chapman effort from distance was thwarted by Balcombe and a decent block denied Okenabirhie after the no.9 was picked out by an excellent John Bostock pass.
Nathanael Ogbeta rattled the cross bar from close range, David Davis fired over from the edge of the box and at the other end Coppinger’s thunderbolt effort was spilled by the keeper - some good defending denied Josh Sims a tap-in from the rebound.
Rovers defenders were called on to make a couple of key blocks and there were some anxious looks to the officials when Shrewsbury striker Shaun Whalley went down in the box – but he’d gone down a bit too easily and referee Andy Davies waved the appeals away ensuring Rovers held their lead at the break.
Shrewsbury had the best of the early exchanges in the second half – but Rovers were able to show their strengths on the break. A quick move through the midfield with Bostock, Coppinger and Smith moving the ball from one end of the pitch to the other in three passes. They eventually worked the ball to Richards who couldn’t find the half a yard he needed to get a shot away. Minutes later, they were stringing together a similar move – this time it was Reece James’ cross which was cleared by the home side.
Their best of these chances came just before the hour mark when a Rovers clearance from a Shrewsbury corner-kick was to Sims – the Southampton loanee was always favourite in the footrace creating a one-two with Okenabirhie but the winger slopped at the wrong moment at the Shrews were able to mop up the danger.
An excellent Rovers chance came just after the hour-mark. Substitute Tyreece John-Jules looked to make his return to action a memorable one as he linked up with Bostock on the right and picked out Okenabirhie – the striker pulled his shot a whisker wide of the near post.
With ten minutes left on the clock, Richards was put through on goal by Okenabirhie and the Brighton and Hove Albion hammered the ball beyond Sarkic to secure Butler’s first victory on the road as manager.