Where We Are
At the start of last season a Coventry side low on confidence and off the back of a defeat to Tranmere travelled to Shrewsbury hoping for a win to kickstart their season. Sunday sees the Sky Blues in much the same situation, although this time we benefit from playing at ‘home’. If more proof was needed that we are alarmingly close to the relegation zone, it came at 5 o’clock on Saturday with results placing us just 2 points above the bottom 4. Very quickly we have transformed from play-off hopefuls into relegation battlers.
The positives are that we have a few games in hand over a number of teams towards the bottom of the table, although you’d hardly fancy our current chances against Walsall and Bradford who’ll be our opponents for those games. Hopefully the fact that today’s results put our situation into stark perspective will give the players added motivation to put their poor form behind them and secure a vital three points.
Additionally we are boosted by the return to fitness of Callum Wilson and Nathan Delfouneso, with Chuba Akpom returning from his sojourn with the Arsenal youth-team. Wednesday afternoon was host to one of the most keenly observed reserve fixtures in recent history as Wilson alongside Mark Marshall and Dylan McGeouch were handed a vital chance to boost their ‘match fitness’. Hopefully this will mean that we’ll have a full compliment of strikers for the first time since the Rotherham game on New Year’s Day.
Finally it’s good to see that we now have a relatively large squad to pick from. The additions of Petrasso, Marshall and McGeouch in midfield give Pressley the opportunity to drop either of Franck Moussa or Carl Baker, both of whom may benefit from a reminder that they need to produce the goods to stay in the team. It seems likely that Akpom and Wilson will be paired in attack for this afternoon’s game with the option of Delfouneso on the bench, which is a vast improvement on having no strikers whatsoever last Saturday.
Last Time We Met
The last time we played Shrewsbury we were looking for that one win to return us to positive points in the early months of the season. However despite taking the lead in the first-half through Callum Wilson, we were unable to hammer home that advantage and eventually conceded what was soon to be a common sight in a headed goal. Ever since relegation to the third tier we have failed to beat our friends from Shropshire with two embarrassing defeats to the Salopians occurring last season. Our first trip to the New Gay Meadow produced a 4-1 defeat that will live long in the memory of Sky Blues supporters for the ineptitude of the display. On New Year’s Day in 2013 we then lost 1-0 in front of a decent crowd at the Ricoh despite fielding both Leon Clarke and David McGoldrick in the team for a short period towards the end of the game.
How Are They Doing?
It’s been a long old season for Shrewsbury. Football management stalwart Graham Turner retired in January after a long career on the touchline, which for many Sky Blues fans will be remembered for his role in Aston Villa’s relegation in the 86-87 season. Technically speaking the Shrews have yet to replace Turner in the dugout with caretaker Michael Jackson currently in the seat in an interim capacity until the end of the season. Jackson has been a steady pair of hands thus far, taking 5 points from 5 games, but such is the nature of the bottom of the table this season it has seen the club drop into the bottom two of the table.
The dangermen for Shrewsbury are Tom Eaves in attack and Jon Taylor out wide. Eaves is on loan from Bolton and played a vital role in keeping the club in League One this season when he scored 6 in 10 appearances. In what’s been a more difficult season for both Eaves and Shrewsbury Town, the physical centre-forward has ended up back at the club largely down to a poor loan spell with Rotherham earlier in the campaign which saw him fail to score in 8 appearances. Since returning to Shrewsbury, Eaves has scored just 2 in 14 games but he did score last week and given our penchant for conceding headed goals this season, he’ll fancy his chances this afternoon. Taylor has been a consistent performer at the Greenhous Meadow over recent seasons and recently played a key role in a 3-2 win over Notts County.
Familiar names in the Shrewsbury line-up also include former Sky Blue Jermaine Grandison who has recently returned to the club after rejecting a new contract offer last summer despite carrying a severe injury. Chris Weale, the former Leicester keeper, is also a player not to be underestimated having turned in numerous game saving performances for the club over the past two seasons.
Like us Shrewsbury are in desperate need for a win, unlike us they have recent experience of victory and a settled team to choose from. Shrewsbury are likely to be fitter than us, which will could make up for their shortfall in on-paper talent. They are a team to be underestimated at our peril, however I doubt Pressley would ever make a mistake like that.
All things considered I predict a 1-1 draw which will do neither team any good.