With the end of the season rapidly approaching I’ve come to a weird feeling. Shrewsbury Town can actually stay up. Gone is the misery from the start of the season, replaced by something more poisonous – hope.
No one can argue that Shrewsbury are in fantastic form. Gone are the stupid games from the first third of the season where we’d concede in the opening and/or final ten minutes. We’ve now settled into being an effective unit, gladly taking points out of games. Our counter attacking is superb with many of our games involved us getting a hiding the whole game then stealing points. Being more clinical in front of goal works better for us since we’ve lost possession battles in our last few games. Admittedly some of the football hasn’t been the best but if route one is the way to play to guarantee us safety, so be it. We’re more than happy to follow the Stoke model at a lower level.
Over the Easter weekend, we should have had a couple more eggs than what we had from our points haul. Two debatable penalties gave Carlisle a reasonably undeserved point from us. Again we had more of the lion’s share of shot on target and being sharp in front of goal, but the referee made a massive mistake giving the second penalty as I don’t have a clue how he can give one when he’s unsighted.
But then Monday came and Tom Eaves pretty much brought at least a massive Easter egg and cup with three chocolate bar deal for the whole crowd at the Greenhous with his hat-trick. Three good finishes against a Crawley side, who had double the amount of shots. If anything it highlights our current phase of the season – being more clinical than the other side.
Remember when I said Turner couldn’t find players to play at League One level? Yeah, well more fool me. Eavesy has been a revolution since arriving in Shropshire. Having been a decent goal scorer at League Two earlier in the year for Bristol Rovers after rotting in Bolton’s reserves, he’s actually improved dramatically in the third tier. He is a lovely finisher and works hard for the ball constantly, he’s admitted he’s got a soft spot for the club too. It’ll be a bit of a sad day when he leaves to go back to Bolton I must say.
The rest of the recent loan new recruits are, without being too harsh, filling in gaps. The bulk of recent loanees are plugging in defensive injuries. With the majority of them young, they’ve not been poor and kept us going but none of them have suggested they’d take the club forward if they hung around. Stephen McGinn and David McAllister have boosted the midfield on the other hand and given us some decent creativity and enforcement.
I doubt any of them, even Eaves, can compete with easily our signing and player of the season, Chris Weale. I’ve mentioned him before but I think he’ll be gone in the summer. The man can play at a top League One club, even in the Championship. He’s so good as a goalkeeper at this level and we’re lucky to have him. When our defence crumbles, which it has done on more than one occasion, we can rely on Weale to at least drag out a game and keep goal for most of the 90 minutes.
So, what’s next in Salop’s final five games? Well I fully expect us to not get anything out of Russian-rich Bournemouth who are in terrific form after a dodgy spell. They’re going for automatic promotion and with the top being so close, I can see them being a bit more motivated than us. Similarly for Yeovil but they’ve been throwing games away recently so we should take advantage of their bloodied noses a bit.
I think it’s going to come down to our final week until we’re guaranteed safety, despite only really needing one point so Bury and Pompey can’t catch us up. In an eight day period, thanks to bad weather, we’ll play Colchester away then Oldham home midweek then finally troubled Pompey make the trip up to the Greenhous. I can see us needed at least two wins out of that lot to guarantee having another year in the third division, given Oldham’s small backlog and the fact that Scunthorpe could have a late revival.
If you’re asking me on the spot are we going to stay up, I’m going to say yes. Scunny haven’t shown any sort of revival magic to get out of the mire. Pompey are due a points deduction. Bury have run out of steam at this level. I’m a bit worried about Oldham overtaking us due to their nice strikeforce, but the change of manager for Lee Johnson and a filled up fixture list might be a bit too much. Colchester are just there – I’m sure they’ve stayed in exactly the same numerical spot all season.
Not quite time to start planning next season for the mighty Salop but it soon won’t be long. Plenty of optimism to come but hopefully Turner will drill into the squad that we’re not there yet. Soon though my brethren, soon.
Written by Terry Lewis, We Are Going Up’s Shrewsbury Town blogger