Marcus Braddock takes his weekly look at all things Shrewsbury Town
First of all, I'd like to plug the clubs carol service that's happening tomorrow evening (Tuesday 17th Dec) at 6 pm at Montgomery Waters Meadow. It's a really nice way to get yourself into the mood for Christmas, sharing songs we've known all our lives and bringing back a Christmas past or two to warm the heart.
It's been a relatively quiet week off the pitch with political considerations taking our attention, but after a week of spin and hyperbole, an honest game of football seemed an excellent palate cleanser.
Coventry came to Montgomery Waters Meadow with an interesting away record behind them. Just one defeat away from home in Skybet League One with all their other games ending in draws.
They didn't look like they were aiming for a draw and looked to attack us at every opportunity. We looked a little off our game, passes weren't fully completing, and the team wasn't quite gelling as a unit. The Sky Blues are a smart enough team to take advantage and scored before half an hour had passed. It was an excellent cross and header that put the ball just beyond Max O'Leary's reach.
The goal looked to galvanize us a little, but Coventry were still looking to exploit any mistake we made. Fortunately, we managed to get to half time with just the one goal conceded which gave Sam Ricketts and his back-room team a chance to try and change things. They opted to strengthen our forward options and bring on Shaun Whalley for Sean Goss, giving us an extra player in the attacking third of the pitch. Whalley's dribbling ability is an excellent way to hold the ball further up the pitch, meaning others can take up better positions. It also means that when the ball is pushed forward, it doesn't come straight back, giving the defence a bit of relief.
We'd improved significantly from the first half performance, but Coventry were still holding us at bay, so Ryan Giles was introduced after an hour, replacing Ro-Shaun Williams. This meant a change of formation with two centre backs rather than the three we usually field. It gave Giles the opportunity to penetrate down the wing, getting in some very threatening crosses. With 67 minutes gone, Giles took a corner that dropped beautifully into the danger area, Coventry couldn't clear, and in a goalmouth scramble, Scott Golbourne put it away.
At 1-1 we could breathe a little easier, but Coventry were trying to take advantage of Ro-Shaun-Williams swap for Ryan Giles. We pretty much weathered what they had to offer, and I was looking at it as a point won, but Town seemed to have other ideas. Fejiri Okenabirhie had worked a hard shift as our only striker for 83 minutes, so Jason Cummings replaced him, freshening things upfront.
All three substitutes were involved in our winning goal; Jason Cummings started the move from the right flank, he took the ball infield and passed to Ryan Giles, who was on the left. He pushed the ball toward the byline and chipped it over the six-yard box to Shaun Whalley who put it away with his right boot. After the game, the talk was about the good substitutions made at the right time. Something I'd highlighted a couple of weeks ago on this very page!
The three points won have pushed us up a position to 11th, just three points from the play-off positions. There is still a lot of football to play yet and a couple of teams with games in hand on us, but it's very encouraging given that this is Sam Ricketts first full season in charge.
The coming week has just the one game, and that's an away one against fifth-placed Blackpool. They've not lost in their last seven league games, are still in two cup competitions and have only lost twice at home in Skybet League One this season. Sound like yet another tough game!