Marcus takes a look at all things Shrewsbury Town
The main talking point from last week was the Wolves game but that was at the end of a relatively busy week at Montgomery Waters Meadow. On Tuesday we signed experienced defensive midfielder Romain Vincelot who spent the first half of the season with Crawley. Sam Ricketts knows him well, says he's a good presence in the dressing room and can fill in In a few different positions which makes him a useful player to have around. He's also been a captain at previous clubs and has plenty of experience at this level so a pretty solid signing.
Vincelot was the only transfer activity on show but there is plenty going on in the background, as we'd expect at this time of year. The transfer window closes on Thursday at 11 pm so we'll see the results of our negotiations to come to fruition in the coming few days.
On the same day that we signed Romain, we also played our Central League Cup semi-final against Bournemouth and with a fair few of our fringe players moving on recently, the reserve team was supplemented with some of our youth players. I like the opportunity to have a look at how some of our future stars are developing so I popped down to watch. They all did pretty well considering the opposition and I was again impressed with James Rowland when he had the opportunity to push forward. It was Rowland's inch perfect cross that created our goal in the last 20 minutes, Aaron Amadi-Holloway still had to put it away, which he did but it was more of a consolation in a game that Bournemouth controlled for much of the time.
Saturday saw the youth team in action but they suffered a difficult 5-0 home defeat against EFL Youth Alliance league leaders Wigan Athletic. Their next game is on February 9th with Macclesfield Town hosting.
By the time Saturday and Wolves had arrived we'd already heard the news that Dave Edwards had ruled himself out of the game. He could well have made a contribution to the game but it was a little too early and for Dave, the league is the priority. The team named was a pretty familiar one to most of us with Sam Ricketts using Omar Beckles, Luke Waterfall and Mat Saddler as a back three. It was a pretty effective unit in the second half against Stoke and we do look more assured when using it.
I'd turned up to the game in a bit of a crabby mood after a busy morning but our performance had me clapping and smiling in no time. It was one of those games where everyone rose to the occasion and put in a performance to be proud of, giving Wolves far more trouble than Premier League Liverpool did in the last round. It seemed like everyone made a contribution from Steve Arnold's World class save to Greg Docherty's sublime strike to take the lead early in the second half.
If you go back and look at the build up to the goal, Fejiri Okenabirhie does a lot of the work in bringing the ball from a defensive position in his own half. Having beaten one defender with pace, he stretched the other three with his pass to Docherty who finished it with something special.
Ollie Norburn had a good game and capped it off with a great corner that looked net-bound from the moment he took it. It was the perfect height and at the perfect pace for Luke Waterfall to head in. The defender timed his run to perfection, watching the ball all the way and sending us into ecstasy with another great headed goal.
Wolves had to work very hard for their first goal with Cavaleiro having to change direction five times to get enough room to cross under pressure from Greg Docherty. His cross somehow found Jiménez and from that moment I had a feeling that their inertia and quality might just breach us again. Traore, who had a much better second half, had been pushing us hard on the right flank and with injury time seconds ticking agonizingly slowly, he got a cross in but the goal owed more to Wolves defender Doherty's tenacity and desire than the looping cross
A 2-2 draw with a top ten Premier League team is an impressive feat but we were so, so close to so much more. It was a great team performance and although we didn't quite beat this collection of multi-million-pound players, we've shown that we can perform consistently well throughout a game against very impressive opposition. The challenge now is to repeat it in our next game against the slightly less glamorous Bradford City.
The Bantams have had a poor season so far and sit in 23rd place in League One which isn't where I expected to see them at this stage of the season. They looked to be turning the corner with four wins out of five games over the Christmas and New Year period but have only scored once in their last three games. A win for the home team would see them equal our points total meaning they have plenty of motivation. We do have a game in hand on them so a decent result for us would be reassuring ahead of next weekends home encounter with table-topping Luton Town.
Luton have scored fifty-five goals this season so far, more than anyone else in the division, so another interesting week for Shrewsbury Town lies ahead of us.
Finally, our draw with Wolves means that we're in the draw for the fifth round of the Emirates F.A. Cup tonight. If you want to see the draw live, you'll have to tune in to the One Show on BBC 1 at 7pm. We're ball number 3!