Marcus Braddock takes a look at all things Shrewsbury Town
It's not been a bad week for Shrewsbury Town on the pitch but for the second week in succession, we've said goodbye to a Shrewsbury Town Legend with the passing of Mr Pete Dolby. Dolby played well over 300 games for Town in the 1960's after joining from Heanor. I was fortunate enough to meet Pete a few years back, only on a couple of occasions but he seemed a true gentleman. When he finished his playing days, he stayed in Shrewsbury and spent some time as a teacher at Mount Pleasant Junior school. There were some very touching memories shared on social media in the days following his passing.
On to the football and the highest scoring Town game this week was on Saturday in Blackpool as the youth team took part in an eight-goal. It means that in their two meetings this season, Blackpool and Town's youth teams have shared 12 goals from two draws. After conceding first, Town drew level through Archie Elmore just before half time. Elmore scored his second equalizer of the game after Blackpool had taken the lead early in the second half. He then completed his hat-trick on 65 minutes as town took the lead. Blackpool levelled minutes later and then re-took their lead with just under ten minutes to go but substitute Ethan O'Toole scored the equalizer with minutes left. The youth team are away again this weekend with a difficult trip to Preston North End on Saturday.
The first team had a good start to the weeks games with a 2-0 home win against high flying Doncaster Rovers. First half goals from Josh Laurent and Tyrese Campbell capped off one of the best halves of football that I've seen us play all season. The second half was always going to be a difficult one to get through, statistically, it's been the strongest half for Doncaster at home and away with 67% of their goals scored. If anything, our clean sheet was the most impressive thing about the game. Rovers have some great forwards but we managed to counter their threat and earn another three points. The worst thing about the game was Anthony Grant's yellow card it was his tenth of the season and that means a two-game suspension for one of our key players.
With Grant suspended on Saurday it meant that Sam Ricketts had to look for options elsewhere. Ollie Norburn seemed to be doing much of the work that you would expect from Grant and I was impressed with his work rate and measured approach, no overly enthusiastic challenges this week. I thought that he was a big part of our second clean sheet in a row. He was my Man Of The Match.
I didn't think the result against the Wombles was as bad as one or two are suggesting online. I've seen a few people say that AFC Wimbledon are a poor team and that we should have beaten them. But as I showed in Friday's preview, they've actually won ten times away from home this season if you include their cup fixtures, so not a team to be taken lightly. They also came and set themselves up with most of the team behind the ball for most of the time which is difficult to play through. Really we should have had all three points because of the quite obvious hand-ball in the box from the Dons.
I see loads of people talking online almost exclusively about formations which are of course quite important but are a bit of a red herring as they're only really the starting position. What those players do isn't dictated by the starting formation and neither is the way we actually play. Some people refer back to last seasons formation as if it's some sort of magical formula but I'd argue that last season owed more to the pressing game that we played and the hard work in every position than to the formation.
I suppose my point is that as fans we don't see things the way the professionals do, we don't understand the game in the same way and aren't aware of all of the factors like training performances or the personal life of the individual players and what they may be going through off the pitch. There's nothing wrong with expressing an opinion and discussion is the lifeblood of games like football, it's one of the things I love about the game. But when you see people questioning a trained professional just because they don't understand what is going on, it's almost amusing. Don't forget, the manager of a football team has to be extremely well trained to a high level, far higher than most of us supporters. So when you don't understand his actions, maybe you should wonder what you're not seeing before handing out insults.
This week sees Town with seven days to recover from the three games in eight days they've just played. Following that we travel to Spotland to face Rochdale who currently inhabits 22nd place in Skybet League One. Dale haven't won at home since Boxing Day and have only managed four points from their eleven league games since then. The last time we played them was in mid-November at Montgomery Waters Meadow and we won 3-2 with two goals from Ollie Norburn and one from Fejiri Okenabirhie.
In off the pitch news, Shrewsbury Town In The Community officially launched the Community Football Hub on Wednesday. The event was held in Smithy’s Bar and hosted by BBC Radio Shropshire's Shrewsbury Town commentator Stuart Dunn. The high point of the evening was Stuart's interview with David Edwards about his successful career with Town, Wolves and Wales.
The clubs accounts were released and to my extremely untrained eye, everything looked wonderful. If you want a more informed review of the figures that mine, Town fan and accountant Ant Thomas has written a review that I found both accessible and reassuring.
Finally, there is good news for anyone who's considering a season ticket for 2019/20. Prices have been frozen which includes free admission for kids and reductions for those under 23. Tickets are released today and if you buy as an “early bird” you will find the biggest savings! Further details can be found on this website.