Shrewsbury Town 3 Oxford United 0

Last updated : 02 April 2005 By Footymad Previewer
Shrewsbury Town took a massive step towards League Two survival with a comprehensive 3-0 home victory over Oxford United at Gay Meadow.

Second half goals from substitute David Edwards and Luke Rodgers, either side of an own goal from Oxford United central defender Paul Wanless, secured a vital win for Gary Peters side whose form had slipped alarmingly in recent weeks.

Indeed, Shrewsbury went into the match without a win in five games and a goal in four - and in a bid to half his sides' slide Peters took the drastic step of dropping ever-present goalkeeper Scott Howie and replaced him with teenager Joe Hart - who was handed his Football League debut. It proved an excellent decision from Peters as Hart impressed throughout with safe handling and a number of fine reflex saves.

In a fast, entertaining and open game, both sides created some excellent first half opportunities, but reached the break still looking for a breakthrough. But just three minutes into the second half it arrived and was well worth the wait.

Edwards, another product of Shrewsbury's thriving youth policy - who had replaced the injured Jamie Tolley in the 35th minute - finished a surging run with an excellent low drive that flashed past Oxford 'keeper Chris Tardif to put the home side ahead, notching his fourth goal of the campaign in the process.

In the 57th minute that advantage was extended in bizarre circumstances - Wanless, clearly aware of the presence of Rodgers at his shoulder, headed Sam Aiston's swinging centre past Tardif from close range, with the game now having swung firmly in Shrewsbury's favour.

The points were secured beyond all doubt in the 71st minute when Rodgers lobbed home his sixth goal of the season to send the Shrewsbury faithful home in buoyant mood from a sun-bathed Gay Meadow.