Shrewsbury Town 0 Rochdale 1

Last updated : 06 August 2005 By Footymad Previewer
Shrewsbury Town started the season in familiar fashion as they failed to grab a win for the sixth time in seven seasons on the opening day, crashing to a 1-0 defeat against Rochdale at Gay Meadow.

The new-look team assembled by Shrews boss Gary Peters, after he released nine players at the end of the last term went down to a 24th minute strike by impressive target man Grant Holt.

After a hectic close season, Peters handed Shrewsbury debuts to seven of his new recruits - Kevin Sharp, who was appointed team captain yesterday, Neil Sorvel, Colin McMenimen, Mark Stallard, Ben Herd, Jay Denny and late-substitute Steve Hogg.

With Ben Smith returning to first team duty after a 10-month absence following a long-standing shoulder injury, it was a Shrewsbury line-up dramatically overhauled from the one that finished the 2004-2005 campaign.

They began brightly enough and saw a header from young centre-back Gavin Cowan float inches wide as they held sway during the opening stages - but were rocked when the visitors went ahead with their first significant attack.

Holt strongly held off the attention of Town central defender Dave Walton and his snap-shot took teenage goalkeeper Joe Hart - who was put on England U-18 stand-by this summer - by surprise when it beat him at the near post.

Shrewsbury responded with a close range header from Stallard that was easily saved by Rochdale 'keeper Matthew Gilks.

Stallard was again denied by a diving save from Gilks as the Shrews continued seek a leveller early in the second half.

But as the second half unfolded Rochdale looked good value for their lead and long range efforts from Ricky Lambert and Lee Cartwright went close to extending their advantage.

Midfielder Smith - easily Shrewsbury's best player - had two half-chances in the closing stages to level matters, but they both went begging as Rochdale deservedly held out to win.