Marcus Braddock looks ahead to Saturday's game at home to Rochdale
This weekend sees Sam Ricketts squad still in transition with a number of injuries and the transfer of four players in the second half of the week. Opponents Rochdale are currently in the play-off positions after a 3-2 away win at Tranmere followed by a 1-1 draw at home to Doncaster Rovers. They also thumped crisis club Bolton 5-2 in the Carabao League Cup on Tuesday night meaning that they're unbeaten as they visit Montgomery Waters Meadow.
I popped to the Rochdale official YouTube page to see their highlights from the season so far and going forward they looked pretty decent. The Bolton game saw some excellent goals scored by Rochdale but at the same time they conceded twice against a team that had yet to score this season. Against Tranmere there was an extremely canny lob and a little lax defending from Micky Mellon's League One new boys to let Dale in. However, they did also concede twice toward the end, the sort of slack, complacent goals that teams with good leads tend to concede. Their game with Doncaster Rovers looked pretty even with Dale taking the lead and almost getting a clean sheet until Doncaster's Kieran Sadlier rose highest to head home a late Doncaster corner in the 90th minute.
Dale have come very close to a clean sheet twice this season and clean sheets may well be particularly important to manager Brian Barry-Murphy. Dale had the worst goal difference of any team in the division last season and Barry-Murphy made pre-season moves to improve that area, bringing in defenders, Eoghan O'Connell (bury), Tyler Magloire (Blackburn loan) and Rhys Norrington-Davies (Sheffield United, loan).
Ben Toner from Lancashire. Toner has been a football league referee since the 2014/15 season but his first full term was the following one. The 2015/16 season saw him in charge at Montgomery Waters for the first time when we played Rochdale, winning 2-0 with goals from Shaun Whalley and Nat Knight-Percival. The following season he took charge at the Meadow three times and we won all three. The next season he was in charge when Plymouth won 1-2 at the Meadow and when we won away at Oldham. Last season he was in charge of our home game against Salford in the F.A. Cup and that's the last time we saw him. In all those games he's never sent a Shrewsbury Town player off, which is one of those annoying stats that always seem to get broken when I mention them.
Brian Barry-Murphy has suggested that we may be one of the “big hitters in League One”, this season because of the experienced players in the squad. He also praised Rochdale midfielder Callum Camps after he scored two good goals on Tuesday night against Bolton Wanderers; he'll definitely a player we should be aware of.
Sam has been busy negotiation the signing of new players but he's also talked about some of the unfortunate injuries the squad has been experiencing recently and how that may impact the team.
Ro-Shaun Williams (hamstring), Ollie Norburn (knee and ankle) and Josh Laurent (quad) will all miss out, new signings Sean Goss and Louis Thompson will be eligible for tomorrow’s game.
Rochdale has Jimmy Ryan serving the last game of a suspension but have no new injury worries.
Rochdale has looked pretty good going forward so far this season and look able to play a quick, attractive, passing game at times. Defensively they look pretty good too for the most part but they have conceded a couple from crosses which may be good news for Steve Morison. Things haven't quite gone according to plan since we won on the opening day of the season and a big performance from whoever is selected would be rather handy right now. I wonder whether we may see the two new signings appear from the bench rather than starting but they've both been through pre-season at their previous clubs and should have the fitness levels required, should they be called upon.
I said we could win on Tuesday and was proved wrong in a couple of mad minutes so I'm shying away from any similar boldness this weekend. I'd like to see us maintain the defensive standard we set ourselves in the first two games; yes we conceded last weekend but it wasn't really a product of the system, more a genuine attempt to head the ball out that didn't quite work. We do have injuries in the back line but Omar Beckles looked good enough when called upon to cover. We also have other key players missing but that just gives the rest of the team the opportunity to make a key contribution themselves.