Marcus Braddock takes his weekly look at all things Shrewsbury Town
It's not been a bad week for Shrewsbury Town, although things could have been very different. After last Saturday's defeat at home to Bristol Rovers, both clubs faced a charge from the F.A. For failing to control their players and Aaron Pierre was accused of violent conduct. When reviewed, the specific incident didn't look any more violent than anyone else's pushing and shoving but there was contact between the top of Pierre's head an opponent as he tried to get between players. Claims from some that it was a head butt are pretty far from the apparent truth, but it's difficult sometimes to see things without the club colours obscuring the view. Fortunately, the club appealed against the ban and that appeal was upheld so there won't be a suspension.
Last weekend's cup tie at Montgomery Waters Meadow brought us another disciplinary issue to discuss when Ollie Norburn was sent off against Mansfield. From where the referee was placed, I can imagine it looked cut and dried but a replay suggests otherwise. A Mansfield player went down just as Norburn was striking the ball, and as he fell, the ball thwacked him in the face. The ref was behind the player that was hit so it may well have looked like Norburn kicked him in the face. I'm told we're going to appeal the red card and having looked at it a few times (through amber and blue spectacles), I think it has a decent chance of being rescinded.
The actual game was another one won with intervention from the bench, with Dan Udoh and Brad Walker taking active roles in both goals. The first was when an Udoh shot was deflected to Josh Laurent who scored the first. The second came as Mansfield pushed forward to equalise and Udoh's pace stole a march on the Stags and passed to the onrushing Walker who took the ball beyond the keeper and finished.
It happened in our 1st round replay too with Dave Edwards scoring after joining the game in the 55th minute. Subs have played a part in the league too, our game at Accrington was looking like a defeat until Dan Udoh and Fejiri Okenabirhie came on with ten minutes to go and scored the winning goals. A week or two later and it was Jason Cummings turn to go on and score when we were a goal down at Wimbledon. The very next game saw us trailing with just under an hour played when Shaun Whalley came on and provided the assist for Ollie Norburn to score our third.
Without contributions from our substitutes, we'd be at least seven points worse off and nervously glancing backwards rather than forward. We should also not forget substitutes who've come on and help to keep things tight to see out a game with a clean sheet or better. It seems like evidence that we have a manager who understands the game well enough to be able to influence it from the sidelines. Using the bench to replace the injured or fatigued is one thing but not all managers learn how to use their subs for tactical advantage as quickly as Sam seems to have.
The great thing about getting into the third round of the Emirates FA Cup is that the excitement form Saturdays win continues throughout the weekend as you anticipate Monday evenings draw, hoping for a huge club to be drawn against our name. Sam Ricketts however, doesn't seem to mind, seeing both the positives of a big club or potentially weaker opposition and prize money for further progression. For me, it's a big team at home every time and seeing as we've never played them before, Spurs would be a good team to draw. I have a sneaking feeling that we may end up with Everton again, the last time I thought that we drew them and beat them! We're ball number 47 and the draw is on BBC2 at 7 pm.
Looking a little further ahead and we have a Leasing.com Trophy game at home to Manchester City U21's on Tuesday night at 7.30 pm. We're getting to the later stages of this competition now and a little closer to Wembley each time. They look a tougher prospect than any of the other under 21 teams we've played and they've scored in every game so far so another tricky game to negotiate.
Saturday brings us an away game at one of the form teams in Skybet League One at the moment in Oxford United. The U's are currently in 6th position and haven't lost a league game since September 7th. They've only lost once at home and have the highest goal difference in League One but if we keep things tight enough, we have a chance of a point or more.