Skipper praises his teammates battle against Stevenage
Captain Liam Lawrence hailed his "battling" teammates as Shrewsbury Town recorded back-to-back victories against Stevenage on Saturday.
James Collins' late winner - his 14th goal of the season - took Town up to 2nd in the League 2 table, just a point behind leaders Wycombe.
Shrewsbury had to come from behind after an early strike from Adam Marriott put the visitors in front. It was the first league goal Town had conceded at home since the Portsmouth game at the end of October. Collins' equaliser put Shrewsbury back on level terms midway through the first half, before Lawrence's penalty made it 2-1 two minutes later. Dean Wells then scored for Stevenage just before half time, but it was Collins who had the final say with a well taken 88th minute winner.
"It was a tough one," said Lawrence, who now has 3 goals for the season. "We knew we were going to have a battle on our hands. We just needed another win, we're still unbeaten at home which is fantastic. It doesn't matter who it is or where it is, we just need to keep winning games. We stuck in and showed we don't just play football - we can also really put ourselves on the line for the club."
Stevenage had won 5 out of their 6 matches going into the game and hadn't conceded a single goal in the previous 3 away outings. In the build-up manager Graham Westley highlighted the 6 red cards shown to opposition players at the Greenhous Meadow this season, and talked about the "ruthless" way in Shrewsbury defend and how the home fans were good at 'working the official.'
"Our players were aware of the comments," said Lawrence. "I didn't know until the morning of the game but we were told. People can say what they want, it doesn't really bother me. I try not to let it bother the lads, it's about keeping them focused on what's important and that's 3 points. It does fire the lads up before a game but at the same time we've got such a good set of players and a good understanding of what we need to do to win games, we know people are going to do this. We're a decent side and high in the league and won't let it affect us."
The opening 20 minutes were a fiery affair with plenty of tackles flying in.
"At the start they thought 'we'll just get right into them, we'll rough them up, put them off their game,' said Lawrence. "Some of our lads then realised that it wasn't going to be easy so lets have it. From then on, I thought we were in total control. In the second half, for 25 minutes, if it were a boxing match it would have been stopped."
Lawrence was delighted to be on target with his penalty and also praised the contribution of Collins who worked tirelessly throughout.
"The 'keeper was stood right in the corner when I was about to take the penalty, it was strange," said Lawrence. "It was a bit of gamesmanship maybe. He played the game and I won. Collo was fantastic throughout, he has been for the last 6 games, whether it's assisting or his hold up play. I've been telling him for months to hold it up and get into the box. He's starting to do that now and is looking the real deal."
The result kept up Shrewsbury's fine home form with Micky Mellon's side maintaining their unbeaten run in League 2 at the Greenhous Meadow this season.
"I don't like to keep talking about the home form as I hate cursing it but it's certainly good," said Lawrence. "Only Chelsea have won at the Greenhous Meadow and they only just beat us. We're nearly in February and still unbeaten at home. If we can continue that, we've got every chance."
Lawrence also singled out right wing-back Cameron Gayle after an impressive performance.
"We've had the 2 loan lads in and he found himself out of the team," said Lawrence. "I told him to keep his head up and his chance will come as there are 5 or 6 months left of the season. The gaffer has put him back in and he's been brilliant.
"I'm friends with the lads here. It's not just 'he's the captain and we have to do what he says.' It's like me giving my mate advice. I try to do it that way rather being a higher authority type captain. They're all my mates and I try to help them as much as I can."