Preview: Shrewsbury Town

I think we’re starting to come to terms with us being an inconsistent team. One week we looked incredibly fluent and threatening against Chesterfield (a game I wasn’t there for), only to fail to show up for the first 60 minutes against Bury the week after. A record in September of Win-Loss-Win-Loss, pretty much sums up this team at the moment.

As much as it was disappointing to lose last week to Bury, it did take two contentious decisions for Bury to score both their goals. Or looking at it another way, it took the opposition team having Leon Clarke to call upon that made the difference. Although it carries on from the we lost, we were poor but we were unlucky in conceding the goal(s) trend from the recent Scunthorpe game, it could still be argued that on a different afternoon, against a different team but playing at a similar level, we would have taken something from that game.

The thing with being inconsistent is that it’s likely that we’ll be a lot better in this forthcoming game. Our Fancy Dan attacking midfielders such as Jacob Murphy and Ryan Kent may respond more positively to the environment of a home game rather than an away day in Bury. It’s frustrating to see players look so talented one week and so ineffective the next but that’s what you get with these nimble young creative types, don’t stone them for being bad, encourage to be good more often.

It would be remiss of a professional football manager such as Tony Mowbray to rest on his laurels and just assume that we’ll be better than last week. I’m sure he’s spent the week urging his players to start turning it on earlier in games and that he’ll be working on a few tactical things to make sure our Fancy Dans are more involved in the game and providing an end product.

Possible Line-Up
Possible Line-Up

In terms of team news, there is the possiblity that we’ll get to see super-pundit Reice Charles-Cook make his league debut for the club. Lee Burge is laid up with an illness that has slowly swept through the club and may not recover in time. I’m intrigued by Charles-Cook simply because he’s the only goalkeeper I’ve seen perform keepie-uppies as part of his warm-up routine, I’m not sure whether that makes him a better goalkeeper or not.

There is the possibility too that Mowbray could turn to one of Marcus Tudgay and Marc-Antoine Fortuné in attack after both made a positive impact from the bench last week. I have a feeling though that Mowbray will stick with the Fancy Dan formula this week in the hope that they’ll be desperate to improve upon last week’s non-showing.

Last Time We Met

Without really recognising it, Shrewsbury have been a bogey team for us since we dropped into League One. Although the Shrews were unable to confirm that status against us last season due to being in League Two, we have only taken two points from four encounters with them in the two seasons prior.

The trend started with a 4-1 away defeat in September 2012 which came the day before Mark Robins’ appointment as manager here. Then we contrived to lose 1-0 to them on New Year’s Day 2013 at the Ricoh Arena, despite them being in terrible form, us in much better form and being able to play both Leon Clarke and David McGoldrick at the same time.

We didn’t lose to Shrewsbury the following season but they did continue to inflict some strange kind of hoodoo over us in mustering a 1-1 draw early into the campaign when a win could have taken us into positive points. The shoe was perhaps on the other foot in our most recent meeting, a low-quality 0-0 draw notable for the return of Callum Wilson and a series of sitters missed by Shrewsbury’s Tom Eaves that day.

How Are They Doing?

Shrewsbury are pretty much unrecognisable from the collection of loan players and mercenaries that shuffled out of League One the season before last. Ex-Fleetwood manager Micky Mellon completely overhauled the squad last season as they sauntered out of League Two off the back of strong home form and an excellent defensive record.

That combination seemed like it would stand them in good stead for a season of consolidation at League One level but a 2-1 home defeat to Millwall on the opening day of the season was an early indication that they would have to adapt to the step up in quality. That struggle was made harder thanks to the loss of talented youngsters Connor Goldson and Ryan Woods in the summer transfer window.

Recently though, Shrewsbury have found some form and have won three out of their past five games. They could have continued that decent run of form on Tuesday night had they not conceded three in the opening 15 minutes against Rochdale but they did end up creating more than enough chances to at least salvage a draw in a game that ended in a 3-2 defeat.

The key players for Shrewsbury in this game will be their two loan attacking midfielders Sullay Kaikai, from Crystal Palace, and Larnell Cole, from Fulham. Kaikai tends to operate best out wide and has been considered a major prospect at Crystal Palace for quite a while now. Cole is a more central player and was once considered a talent at Manchester United before making the unwise decision to join the Felix Magath-inspired madness at Fulham. After barely playing in about 18 months, Cole is finally demonstrating that talent he had at United and was recently named in the League One team of the week.

Possible Line-Up
Possible Line-Up

Those two have given Shrewsbury are more fluid and fluent look to their attack which boasts the inconsistent but sometimes deadly Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, the inconsistent but sometimes deadly Tyrone Barnett and the other James Collins, the Cov kid we twice tried to sign and who apparently now holds a burning hatred for this club and everything it stands for.

To continue the recent theme of ‘the curse of the ex-player’ Shrewsbury possess Jermaine Grandison in their ranks. Injury prone and sometimes error prone, Grandison is a bit of a favourite at Shrewsbury due to his physical playing style and entertaining Sol Campbell-esque surges forward out of defence.


Although you might surmise from Shrewsbury stature and recent promotion from League Two with a strong defensive record as an indication that they’ll turn up, look to shut up shop and scrape whatever they can get from this game, they are actually a team with positive footballing aspirations. Much like the recent Chesterfield game, this could allow our Fancy Dan attacking midfielders more space to roam across the pitch and create danger. Shrewsbury though have players of their own who can wreak havoc if left with too much space.

If we were to win this game, I think we could start to believe that we had genuinely strong home form to build our season upon. It would put less pressure on away games knowing that we can get a result at home the following week. It’s still tentative at this point but I’m feeling fairly confident that we will show up for this game. I’m predicting a 3-1 win.

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