Downes cracker lights up Portman Road as Town stay top
Town chalked up a third successive win with 10 goals in that time to stay top of League One.
Blues took a grip on the game inside the first two minutes with Kayden Jackson smashing in his fourth goal of the season and James Norwood extended the lead soon after with his fifth of the campaign, converting from the penalty spot.
Shrewsbury had their chances in the first-half with Steve Morison going close and Ethan Ebanks-Landell hitting the post but their cause took another blow when Shaun Whalley was sent-off for two bookings before the break.
Flynn Downes wrapped up the points midway through the second-half with a brave and brilliant diving header after a flowing move as Town maintained that pole position.
Blues got off to the perfect start on two minutes, Danny Rowe winning possession on the halfway line and seconds later the ball was in the net, Jackson getting on the end of Norwood’s pass to fire past Max O’Leary.
Shrewsbury rallied and Morison headed just over, Ryan Giles fizzing a cross just in front of Morison, Giles then high and wide from distance.
Town’s start got even better on 10 minutes when Norwood smashed a penalty past O’Leary after Kane Vincent-Young was judged to have been tripped inside the box by Josh Laurent.
Alan Judge threatened to extend Town’s lead further with a snap shot held by O’Leary low down, the Republic of Ireland international then sending in a wicked cross that had Blues appealing for a penalty for handball against Omar Beckles but referee Trevor Kettle hardly gave it a glance.
Tomas Holy gathered cleanly from Whalley’s 20 yarder as Shrewsbury looked for a way back into the game, Norwood dragged his shot wide after the visitors had conceded possession on the edge of their box, then Shrews were inches away from a goal when Sean Goss’s free-kick was nudged on by Ebanks-Landell with the ball hitting the post and rebounding to safety.
Luke Chambers did well to force Whalley away from the danger area as he looked to get in on goal but seven minutes before the break Whalley was sent-off for a second booking after clattering into the Town skipper.
Judge had a shot blocked by Beckles, the midfielder’s cross then led to another penalty appeal for handball against Beckles, the same negative response from the referee but at the other end it needed an excellent save from Tomas Holy to deny Laurent just before the break.
Judge sent a curler over the bar as the second-half got underway, the ever-willing Vincent-Young forcing a corner with another darting run, then Judge having too much on a pass for Norwood.
David Edwards flashed a header just wide from Donald Love’s cross as Shrewsbury responded, Laurent testing Holy from 20 yards as the visitors, the Town ‘keeper forced into another big save with his right hand from Laurent.
Louis Thompson replaced Giles in Shrews’ first change just past the hour, with Blues shuffling the pack with Rowe and Judge replaced by Anthony Georgiou and Gwion Edwards.
The move of the match brought the goal of the match on 69 minutes, Vincent-Young and Jackson combining down the right and Downes threw himself at the cross to head into the net.
Blues got a further boost for the closing stages when Jon Nolan returned to action following a calf injury that has kept him out since April in 90 minutes of positives for Town.
Town: Holy, Vincent-Young, Chambers, Woolfenden, Kenlock, Rowe (Edwards 66), Skuse, Downes, Judge (Georgiou 66), Norwood, Jackson (Nolan 73). Subs not used: Norris, Wilson, Dozzell, Huws. Booked: Downes.
Shrewsbury: O’Leary, Pierre, Edwards, Beckles, Whalley, Giles (Thompson 64), Love, Morison (Udoh 73), Goss, Ebanks-Landell, Laurent. Subs not used: Murphy, Golbourne, Walker, Vincelot, McCormick. Sent-off: Whalley. Booked: Whalley, Love, Pierre, Goss.