GT's thoughts after the 2-1 win away to Oldham
Graham Turner was drenched, but delighted, after watching his Shrewsbury Town side get the better of Oldham Athletic this afternoon at a wet and windy Boundary Park. Oldham had already beaten Town twice this season at the Greenhous but a goal in each half from Jon Taylor and the returning Aaron Wildig gave Salop only their second away success of the season. Jonathan Grounds had equalised for the hosts and Shrews lived dangerously at times with the Latics twice finding the woodwork with the score tied at one apiece, but Wildig’s winner sent the 292 travelling Salopians home in joyous mood.
“It’s a massive win for us and I thought the performance at times was good,” said the gaffer. “It was a backs to the wall display a few times and that was largely due to the quality of their set plays. They were difficult to deal with, with their consistency and their quality and we were made to pay from the one they scored from but after that I felt we dealt okay with it.”
Turner tweaked his formation going away from the trusted 4-4-2 after a wretched run that yielded just a single point throughout the whole of December, with the team managing just one goal in the four games – three of them lost by a single goal. But the manager was surely vindicated in his decision to change things around? “The formation looked okay for the large part but I think one or two things need ironing out,” he said. “It was nice to see Aaron Wildig playing off the main striker and popping up with a goal. It was an excellent run with a good first shot which came back off the post and then terrific composure to put the rebound in. We’ve had difficulty scoring goals and we’ve scored two today so maybe it proves a point? We’ve not had much of an opportunity to practice it – we just went over it on a board at the hotel – and I think we can get it better. We’re at home to Leyton Orient (on Tuesday night) so we’ll see what we can do about that.”
The boss was delighted with Wildig’s return – especially as the injury at first looked like the midfielder might miss the remainder of the campaign. “It’s been a terrific return for him after 5/6 weeks out and he’s not done a lot of training and that’s why he was tiring towards the end. He went down with a knock and indicated that he only had maybe five minutes left in him but to be fair he kept going and put a great shift in. He’s played before in that position for Cardiff and he could get better for us if we decided to continue with it,” said GT.
Turner was also pleased with the goal poached by Taylor after Tom Eaves had forced Connor Brown into making a crucial mistake which led to the young Liverpudlian putting Shrewsbury in front midway through the first half. “Jon’s got that burst of pace and makes some intelligent diagonal runs,” said Turner, “and for the second away game in succession he’s managed to get himself into a goalscoring position. There’s other parts to his game he needs to improve still since his injury but it was a vital goal for us.”
Graham said it was impossible to describe the feeling when, as a manager, you are watching your side try to defend a narrow lead with the clock running down. Doubly so when the referee applied an incredible 6 minutes of additional time at the end of the match: “There are obviously more important things than football despite what Bill Shankly once said,” said Turner. “But when you’re involved in the game it’s a massive, massive thing. It’s a feeling of relief and you hope that something like this can kick start your season so obviously we’re hoping this win will do that.”
The manager was very guarded when discussing potential signings now that the transfer window has opened again. In particular he spoke briefly about conversations with both Adam Reach and Tom Eaves but thought it was unfair to say too much until the outcome of those talks were more advanced. Cameron Gayle is the other player whose short term deal expires at the end of this week and it looks like those three players are likely to be offered extensions to those deals reading between the lines.
One player who has left Shrewsbury is Gozie Ugwu. The manager felt that he had taken some of the fan’s criticisms to heart during the recent home defeat to Tranmere and withdrew the striker at half-time. “He started off ever so well but a perceived lack of effort from the fans affected him. I felt he could have worked harder for the team,” said Turner. “But I couldn’t see myself using him against Preston or here today so he’s returned to Reading. It started off well but didn’t finish so good, though I think he could have a decent career in the game.”
Turner accepted there were some tough games to come but he expressed how disappointing it was that the team failed to push on after an emphatic win at Stevenage. He described the forthcoming fixtures as a challenge that needs to be met head on and hoped to use today’s success as a springboard to move up the League One table.