Preview: Shrewsbury Town

Where We Are

Unbeaten now in 3 matches and with what should be a selection dillemma in a couple of positions. Baker’s return from suspension should see him included in the first XI this afternoon, especially with Billy Daniels struggling with a stomach bug. In attack Manset proved his ability to unsettle defences against Preston last Sunday and would be pushing for a first team spot were he to be fully match-fit. However with Leon Clarke struggling with a calf injury Pressley may have no choice, although Daniels could be pushed up-front instead. With Blair Adams struggling with an injury as well we could see the return of Ryan Haynes to the left-back spot. Adrenaline and cautious positioning got him through his debut but an away match with Franck Moussa as his protection may be a step too far, this is a truer test of his abilities.

So with what could be a patched up first-team this match could illustrate how and why we might struggle this season. With only one or two injuries to first choice players there isn’t much to choose from in way of back-up. It could also though illustrate Pressley’s ability to motivate younger players making them believe that they belong at this level. A win today would put us on 0 points and we could be looking forward to perhaps an outside play-off push. A loss, with the caveat that it is only a few games into the season, may hint at a long tough season and could perhaps take the sheen off our brilliant attacking play thus far.

Callum Wilson is now being strongly linked with Sheffield United, with apparantly a second bid being made. Cyrus Christie is being linked to Huddersfield due to Mark Robins’s side selling their first choice right-back Jack Hunt to Crystal Palace. Both moves seems credible to me and I feel we’ll be more aware of SISU’s plans for this club come Tuesday morning were they to be sold or not. It’s a simple case of wait and see, but I don’t anticipate this leading to either being excluded from today’s squad, purely by virtue of squad numbers.

Last Time We Played Them

New Year’s Day 2013, Coventry were on a high and were ready to smash lowly Shrewsbury Town to give further momentum to the play-off push. In the event Coventry toiled but struggled to really create decent enough chances, Shrewsbury’s centre-backs were big and strong and we constantly tried crossing despite having no success at it. The Shrews then caught us out on the break and they left the Ricoh with 3 points, boosting their survival bid.

It would also be remiss of me to leave out the last encounter we had with Shrewsbury at the Greenhous Meadow. At the lowest ebb of last season, with Richard Shaw in charge, Shrewsbury swatted us aside 4-1, in the manner that we had hoped to inflict on them at the subsequent match at the Ricoh. Last season they were a bogey side, a win today would hopefully break that hoodoo.

How Are They Doing?

They probably remain the favourites for relegation in this league (aside from us) despite an encouraging start to the season. Manager Graham Turner took the novel approach in the transfer market of releasing all their good strikers and replacing them with centre-backs. However they’ve used the loan market well, signing the promising Middlesbrough duo Adam Reach and Curtis Main on short-term loans. They’ve also got their once promising striker Tom Bradshaw scoring, having gone a season and a half without scoring prior to the start of the campaign. I anticipate that they’ll once again be the team we saw them to be last season, very strong at the back, albeit slow as well, and hoping to make good what little chance they create.

Probably Shrewsbury’s best player is diminutive winger Jon Taylor who they’ve done well to keep thus far. A skillful right-sided player who’s proven himself a thorn in the side of players far more experienced and with higher reputations than our Ryan Haynes. As outlined before their two loan signings from Middlesbrough could also prove to be their key players this afternoon. Adam Reach is a very skillfull winger who’ll line up on the left of their midfield. Curtis Main is a powerful striker, tall, strong and with a measure of skill, he has the potential to be a nightmare to our brittle defence with his physicality.

Shrewsbury’s core though is centred around rock solid defence. Their keeper Chris Weale is one of those shotstoppers that can annoy the hell out of teams expecting an easy ride from the Shrews. In defence Tamika Mkandawire (who can also play in midfield) is an experienced and proven player in League One and can close the door on teams playing an aerially based style of attack. Darren Jones in central defence is also another one of Shrewsbury’s key players.

Shrewsbury are like us without their kit for this season. Well, their away kit to be more precise. Apparantly after ordering it from the manufacturers in China the boat got highjacked and none turned up. I was going to add ‘on a lighter note’ at the start of this sentence but in all reality it’s not something to be joked about.

Prediction

Our team is patched up but in rapid goalscoring form. A win away from reaching the golden 0 points much quicker than people expected. Shrewsbury are a slow team based around defensive solidity. This could be another high-scoring classic, we take advantage of their slow defence, their take advantage of our physically weak defence. Although Shrewsbury are supposedly one of the worst teams in the league they can’t be taken lightly, they’re well coached and a tight knit unit. After yet another goal-fest last Sunday and with rumours of player departures this week I’m much less confident about this fixture than I was a few weeks ago.

Nevertheless I predict a 3-1 win to Coventry. I’m hoping my positivity emanates through to this team.

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