Sam Ricketts says Shrewsbury should have won their FA Cup tie with Liverpool after the League One club staged a magnificent fightback to earn a fourth-round replay at Anfield.
Runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool looked to be heading into the fifth round for the first time since 2015 after a fine first-half finish by 18-year-old Curtis Jones was followed by Donald Love’s own goal in the opening minute of the second half.
Yet Shrewsbury were excellent throughout and were rewarded with two goals in the space of 10 minutes by substitute Jason Cummings.
Liverpool keeper Adrian was forced to make some excellent saves during a thrilling tie, and Ricketts said: “We carried out the gameplan superbly well.
“After 32 seconds in the second half most teams would have crumbled. In the end my players got at least what they deserved.
“I think it was there to win. We’ve had the better chances. It wasn’t until Jason scored his first we were clinical.”
Some Shrews fans booed when Callum Lang was replaced by Cummings after 60 minutes with Liverpool leading 2-0.
But former Hibernian forward Cummings launched the comeback from the penalty spot after Josh Laurent was fouled by Yasser Larouci before the same player tucked home the equaliser.
Liverpool sent on Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in search of a winner but, on a memorable day for the Shropshire club, Shrewsbury hung on to earn a deserved replay.
Pitch invasion after terrific fightback
Delighted home fans in the sell-out crowd at Shrewsbury’s Montgomery Waters Meadow staged a good-natured pitch invasion at full-time after a glorious comeback.
Shrews players were mobbed as supporters celebrated the achievement of Ricketts’ side – who sit 16th in the League One table – in holding the European champions.
“It’s what football is about, it’s what the FA Cup is about, a club like ours holding them to a 2-2 draw,” added former Wolves player Ricketts.
“Everyone has to enjoy that.”
Even after falling behind to Jones’ lovely finish, Shrewsbury had looked more than capable of scoring.
They were presented with three one-on-one chances – Adrian producing great saves to deny Shaun Whalley, who also screwed another chance wide, and Callum Lang either side of Love’s own goal.
It looked all over when Love, a former Manchester United player, inadvertently steered the ball past Max O’Leary and inside the post while trying to deal with a cross from Neco Williams.
But Liverpool had ridden their luck and Shrewsbury were rewarded for their hard work when Cummings stroked home from the spot.
And it was Cummings who earned his side a replay at Anfield next month when he went past two Liverpool defenders before tucking beyond Adrian to spark wild celebrations on and off the pitch.
Replay threatens to eat into winter break
Liverpool were hoping for a two-week break between fixtures in February during the inaugural Premier League winter break.
Instead, they will have to fit in this replay between hosting Southampton in the league on 1 February and travelling to Norwich a fortnight later – although manager Jurgen Klopp hinted afterwards that senior players would not be involved against the Shrews.
Having played 37 games this season, including two in Qatar for the Fifa Club World Cup and another in Isatanbul for the European Super Cup back in August, Liverpool could have done without an additional fixture.
Yet Liverpool only have themselves to blame for failing to finish the job in Shropshire.
Klopp made 11 changes to the side that started the 2-1 win at Wolves on Thursday that sent them 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Jones, whose sublime goal knocked out Everton in the third round, underlined his potential with a tidy finish from Pedro Chirivella’s cleverly disguised pass.
Love’s own goal ought to have sealed it but Shrewsbury were gutsy throughout with Adrian forced to produce some smart saves as the hosts came roaring back.
Man of the match – Jason Cummings (Shrewsbury)
Comeback king Cummings – the stats
- Jason Cummings is the first lower league player to score two goals from the bench in the FA Cup against Premier League opposition since Hull’s Nick Barmby in 2011
- At 18 years and 361 days, Curtis Jones is the first teenager to score in consecutive appearances for Liverpool since Raheem Sterling in April 2014.
- Shrewsbury are unbeaten in their past three FA Cup home against Premier League opponents.
- Liverpool have failed to win a match after being two goals ahead for the first time since April 2018 when they drew 2-2 with West Brom in the Premier League.
- Shrewsbury have lost just one of their past 18 home FA Cup matches.
- Liverpool have failed to win away at third-tier opposition in the FA Cup in 12 of their past 14 matches – with their last such victory coming against Shrewsbury in February 1996.
- The Reds have conceded 11 goals in their past five domestic cup away games.
- Liverpool have benefited from four own goals across all competitions this season – the joint-most of any Premier League team.
Liverpool will go 19 points clear at the top of the Premier League if win at West Ham on Wednesday (19:45 GMT) while Shrewsbury are at Gillingham in League One on the same night.
Article courtesy of BBC Sport