Marcus Braddock looks ahead to this evenings final pre-season gameIt's nearly time for the season to begin but first we have our last pre-season friendly match to play and this time it's away against Conference North play-off winners Altrincham F.C. Obviously it was a good season for the Robins, promotion seasons invariably are as we well know, but promotions have never been Alty's main claim to fame. They are well known for beating league sides in the F.A. Cup which they have done on no less than 16 occasions, although luckily we have never been on the receiving end of their cup beatings.
They were doing it as far back as the 1921/2 season when they beat Tranmere Rovers and most recently in the 1994/95 season when they beat Wigan Athletic. They are the only non league side to reach the 3rd round (as a non league team) of the F.A. Cup four consecutive times and have gone that far in the competition seven times. They've even made it to the fourth round of the cup in 1985/6 when they beat Blackpool (who they had beaten the previous season) and Birmingham City.
Recently though, Alty have been a little down on their luck, suffering relegation to the Conference North in 2010/11, spending three seasons there until last season’s promotion. It was a pretty good season for Robins fans, who saw their team win 26 times and then beat fourth placed Hednesford 4-3 over two legs in the semi final and fifth placed Guiseley 2-1 in the final. Over the course of last season, Altrincham kept clean sheets in 31% of their game sand averaged nearly 3.5 goals per game. The coming season will no doubt be a tougher test though and I for one would like to see them beat at least one of the teams promoted with them.
With last season’s top scorer James Walshaw leaving for pastures new, Damien Reeves is the highest goalscorer left from last season. Reeves has been with the Manchester club since June 2010 when he moved from Northwich. Having looked at one of his show-reels on you-tube Reeves looks to be an excellent non-league striker and at 28 years of age, he's at the peak of his powers. Reeves seems able to carry out a wide range of attacking duties, scoring penalties, headers and poached goals. From what I saw, he likes to attack with his back to the goal and has an awareness that enables him to hit a ball accurately on the turn. Certainly one for us to watch out for tonight.
Lee Sinnott had a long playing career which started with Walsall where he started as a youth player, making 40 appearances as a defender in his first season, before moving to First Division (Now the Premiership) Watford. As an 18 year old, Sinnott played in the 1984 F.A. Cup final but was on the losing side as Everton beat them 2-0. He stayed with Watford for four years, making 78 appearances before dropping to Division Two to play for Bradford. He eventually played for Bradford on three separate occasions, making well over 200 appearances for the Bantams. His highest profile management appointment was with Port Vale in the 2007/8 season but that didn't go too well and he ended up with Bradford Park Avenue but again, he only stayed for a season. In 2011 he was appointed manager of Altrincham, twice reaching the play-offs and at the second attempt he was successful.
It is pay on the gate at the J. Davidson Stadium and will cost £7 adults, £4 for concessions and U12s get in for free.
Unfortunately there will be no commentary via ShrewsPlayer this evening but Town fans can listen in via Altrincham’s excellent Radio Robins - http://www.radiorobins.com/
So far this pre-season, I haven't got a scoreline correct but that's really par for the course with my predictions. I did get one result correct, but that's because I always predict a Town win and even a broken clock is right twice per day! I keep saying that results in pre-season mean nothing and that's true, at the end of any given season, only the most ardent statistician could remember pre-season results and as the cliché goes, you get nothing for winning a friendly win. The wins that interest me the most are the ones we're going to get next season and rest assured, I will predict them all, mainly because, as I've already said, I always predict a Town win. So the question really shouldn't be which result we will get but how many goals am I going to predict before getting it wrong. On Tuesday I went for a 3-1 win for Salop, so on the basis that we have to win a game 3-1 some time or other, I think I will go for another 3-1 win for Shrewsbury Town! I may predict a 3-1 win for every game until we do achieve that result!
Marcus Braddock (aged forty-four and three quarters)