Marcus Braddock looks at all things Shrewsbury Town
Last week started with the departure of John Askey and his management team, leaving goalkeeping coach Danny Coyne to hold the reins until a replacement is announced. Coyne had been in charge in the short period when Micky Mellon left for Tranmere but had yet to record a win in charge. His first game was in the CheckaTrade Trophy against Crewe and he made teams worth of changes from the one that faced Salford. The performance was an improvement on Saturday's. The first Town goal on 20 minutes was a forced own goal after a bit of pinball in the Crewe penalty box. In the end it was Abo Eisa whose diagonal shot hit George Ray on its way into the net. Alex Gilliead scored the second from distance and without any pressure from the Crewe defence, he was free to pick his spot and rifle the ball into right bottom corner. Crewe got one back with ten minutes left on the clock but as a draw wouldn't have been enough for Crewe to go through to the next round, it was somewhat ineffectual. With Town winning the group it meant a home draw in the next round and it was Walsall who were drawn to face us at Montgomery Waters Meadow.
Next up was a more difficult game, a home tie against Rochdale who despite being just a couple of points ahead of us had pretty good away form. Again, we looked to have more desire and direction than of late and I was very happy to see us return to the pressing game that served us so well last season. It's a tactic that requires a very fit squad and plenty of focus but it's one I think suits clubs like ours very well. We're not blessed with billions in the bank and a tactic like this can work without the need for massive injections of cash for specialised players, because it's easier to coach fitness into than new skills.
Danny Coyne named the same eleven that had drawn at home to Salford a week earlier and after 32 minutes, Ollie Norburn put away a nailed on penalty that certainly wasn't against the run of play. Toward the end of the half, Dale put us under as little more pressure which and as a little fatigue crept in toward the end of the half, we started to fall back rather than push forward. Dale are a good side when it comes to away games and as the first half minutes slipped away they grabbed an equaliser. Obviously Rochdale started the second half with a bit more verve after their goal just before the break. Their second goal was a little untidy from our point of view as we didn't seem able to clear the ball from our box, giving Rochdale the opportunity to test the keeper a couple of times in quick succession.
I wondered if heads were going to drop when Dale took the lead as most of their away goals have been scored in the final half hour but Town showed plenty of fight and kept them out. Fejiri Okenabirhie had been looking dangerous for us throughout the game and put us level with a really well taken poachers goal. Greg Docherty collected a miskicked Rochdale clearance and showed quick thinking to push the ball toward Josh Lauren who was in a good position to his right. Lauren slid a sweet pass into the box, which Okenabirhie put away after getting between the two defenders, his first league goal for Shrewsbury Town.
Docherty and Lauren were again involved in the move that gave us the winning goal. Docherty gave the ball to Norburn who was in a central position a couple of metres from the penalty box. He played a one-two with Lauren who had his back to goal, he hit return ball goalwards, it took a slight deflection on the way in to the net but it was definately Norburn's goal, his fifth of the season and his fourth in the last five games.
The upcoming week brings us two away games. The first is the replay against Salford on Wednesday night and it's a game that you can watch in the comfort of your own home if you are a BT Sport subscriber. On Saturday we face Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park. Wanderers are just one point and one place above us so it's an important game that could see us overtake them or see them four points clear of us. Their last three league games at home have all ended in wins with seven scored and four conceded over the three games, so it'll be a tough match.
The youth team were in action this weekend after a bit of a break. They travelled to Wrexham and lead for much of the game thanks to goals from Luke Ward and Ryan Grosvenor. Both Town goals were scored in the first half and it looked as if they were going to win 2-1 until a 90th minute goal saw the home team draw level. Their next scheduled game is on December 1st at home to Bury.