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Season Review: November

Paul Hurst picks up his first win in our latest review

12 May 2017

When Paul Hurst had joined the club he had pointed out the need to improve Town’s defensive record. Shrewsbury had managed to keep just one clean sheet prior to Hurst coming in, but the start of November saw three in quick succession as Paul’s impact on the club quickly became apparent.

Paul’s first home game as Shrewsbury Manager came in the FA Cup and League Two side Barnet were the visitors to the Greenhous Meadow. The game had been touted as a potential upset in some quarters, but Town were having none of it and raced into a two-nil lead before half time thanks to goals from Mat Sadler and AJ Leitch-Smith, before Jack Grimmer completed the job on 57 minutes with a stunning half volley.

Town’s next game was their dead rubber away at Middlesbrough Under-23 in the Checkatrade Trophy. This was not a glamorous game for the spectators, in fact on 308 turned up, but for Paul it was another chance to see his new side in action and they once again put on a decent display as AJ Leitch-Smith scored twice and Ivan Toney once in a comfortable victory.

Town followed the two cup wins up with a victory in the League as Leitch-Smith scored for the fourth time in three games to put Town in front against Oxford United and Shaun Whalley raced away in the 98th minute to seal the three points.

With the club on a high there was a lot of optimism for those who travelled to Sheffield United the following Saturday. Town had been comfortably beaten by the Blades a month earlier and were looking for revenge. However, they couldn’t have got off to a worse start as Billy Sharp scored within the opening 10 minutes at Bramall Lane. Since Paul had arrived Town’s discipline problems appeared to have been on the mend, but sadly they would see red twice in this game. Jim O’Brien was sent off for allegedly bringing down a United man in the box. O’Brien’s red card would be rescinded after the game as he had in fact won the ball. Mark Halstead then saved the resulting penalty, but was beaten again on 25 minutes but Stefan Scougall. Town were then sent down to nine men when Abu Ogogo saw red for a late tackle just before half-time. Despite being two men light for the second half Town managed to win the half 1-0 as Louis Dodds scored with 20 minutes remaining, but they couldn’t find an equaliser.

Whether fatigue played a part just three days later at Fleetwood or not, Town produced their worst performance to date under Paul Hurst as they were blown away three-nil by the Cod Army. The game was seen by many as a dress rehearsal for the FA Cup tie against the same opposition in early December, but Town performed poorly from start to finish as Conor McLaughline and two from David Ball gave Fleetwood the win.

Town’s defence were back to their best however four days later as they ended November with a clean-sheet as Shrewsbury drew 0-0 against local rivals Port Vale in what was a rather turgid display from both sides.

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