Prior to Shrewsbury’s home games with Crewe and Swansea in the past week, they could have only been described similar to that of a night out: ‘Good, when there’s beer involved’. Having let a lead & convincing performance slip against Plymouth on the first day of the season, followed by a great escape at Burton Albion and an embarrassing no-show away at Oxford United, the only high of a rather lacklustre start to the season was the Carling Cup First Round defeat of Derby County at Pride Park. But now after defeating local rivals Crewe and a sensational comeback against Premier League outfit Swansea City, there is finally hope at the Meadow that this season could still yet be a momentous one.
Prior to the match, you could agree that Town would have the advantage of almost being able to enjoy themselves, but they’ve already shown in pre-season friendlies against Man United and Wolves that picking a young, inexperienced side to play against them could be a huge mistake. The ‘underdog’ status that now eludes Shrewsbury Town in League 2 has so far proved to work in their favour, and there was even an expectancy that this could once again prove to be accurate in the eventual result.
One player almost certain to be amongst the first names on the team sheet from now on is Sean McAllister. The former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder, who signed for Town last summer, made his first appearance since January in style. Receiving the man of the match award against Crewe after he opened his Shrewsbury account, scoring after 23 minutes, and he was the missing piece of the puzzle in the centre of the pitch. He provided some much needed creativity and a strong link between the defence & attack that had been missing so far this season.
The Swans did indeed field a much weakened team, in comparison to an almost full strength Shrewsbury Town side, and when Cansdell-Sherriff popped up with a terrific header into the far corner, the fans went wild – but much to the dismay of three of the four stands – he headed past his own keeper. Could Town recover from such a calamity at the back? Step forward new striker Marvin Morgan who became a thorn in the Swans’ inexperienced defence, and after slotting home a scuffed Lionel Ainsworth cross he nearly headed Shrews into a half time lead but for the cross-bar. However star man Mark Wright struck from outside the box to put them ahead followed by a textbook training field free kick routine with Nicky Rowe ensuring victory for the home side in a match they quite frankly dominated.
Whilst they can look forward to a potential dream third round draw, the key objective is to maintain a winning streak in the league and climb up into those automatic promotion spots. The players can hopefully build on this week’s performances and maintain the confidence that was clearly absent from their game before playing Crewe last week. With a young, inexperienced attacking line-up, the confidence factor will play a key role for the rest of Town’s season. A week to reflect on the league & cup wins is just what Graham Turner must have wished for last Saturday lunchtime.
Written by Michael Aldridge, We Are Going Up’s Shrewsbury Town Blogger