The Opposition View: Shrewsbury

As we build towards Saturday’s clash at Adams Park, Adam Powell (@adpow88) gives us his views on the Shrews.

I sense growing frustration around the way things are going for Salop at the moment, but how do you assess your season so far? We’re currently 12th in the table, which if you had offered 90% of Town fans at the start of the season, we’d have bitten your hand off. After last year’s struggles, a year comfortably sitting safe in the division is exactly what’s required.

We’ve put in some solid team performances, such as Rotherham away (0-0), and had a great result against Sunderland on Saturday (1-0). However, the lack of attacking intent at times, especially against struggling Gillingham last week (1-1), is starting to unsettle more fans who want to see a more exciting brand of football.

Sam Ricketts’ tactics have been labelled negative and the stats seem to back that up – you’re tight at the back but have scored fewer goals than every other side except Bolton. How much of an issue is that, do you feel? We started off the season with a number of injuries as well as being a nearly completely new squad, so Ricketts wanted to set us up as a solid defensive unit first and foremost. In the short term, the fans accepted this as it seemed that once the squad gelled, the brakes would be released and we could start to express ourselves a bit more, especially with the deadline day signings of [strikers] Jason Cummings and [Wigan loanee] Callum Lang. We’re still yet to see this and I think if we continue to play so defensively, attendances will further decrease and the unrest in the stands will be more vocal.

For me personally, I’d accept a year of stability even if it is boring, though the style of play would need to improve to progress once Ricketss has had a year with the squad.

How would you describe your overall style of play then? Are there any strengths and weaknesses which might not be clear from looking at the numbers? Ricketts has us set up with a defensive 5-3-2, playing wing-backs and being difficult to break down. Our defence has looked immense at times and with [a joint league-high] seven clean sheets so far this season, the stats back it up. However, we still have a bad performance in us, as Southend managed to put three past us [Join the club]. The handbrake is firmly applied when attacking and we don’t seem to create too many chances.

Who have been your players of the season so far and why? I keep banging on about our defence! But for me it would have to be one of our centre-backs. Ro-Shaun Williams, Aaron Pierre & Ethan Ebanks-Landell at times have all looked like being a defensive wall, and even Omar Beckles has done a job recently for the injured Ebanks-Landell.

Young goalkeeper Max O’Leary, on loan from Bristol Cit, is an excellent shot stopper, though his distribution needs improving, and Jason Cummings looks like he could score us the goals we crave, once fully fit.

How do you see the game going and what’s your score prediction (if you’re brave enough to make one)? With Wycombe’s high intensity style of play, I can only see an afternoon of parking the bus from us, sadly. We have tried to limit the opposition chances throughout the season and if we can sneak away from Adams Park with a point, Ricketts and, to be fair, us Town fans will be pleased.

It will be nice to see ex-players Joe Jacobson and Jack Grimmer again, who were both popular down at the Meadow, as long as neither scores against us!!

A part of me thinks we can nick a 1-0 win, but I’m going for a comfortable 2-0 win for Wycombe.


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