Marcus Braddock takes his weekly look at all things Shrewsbury Town
It's Monday again and time for a look at the weekend's defeat at Wycombe Wanderers and the coming weeks opponent's. The Chairboy's have been in a rich vein of form so far this season, particularly at home where they've yet to lose. Sam Ricketts decided to stick with the same team and a similar formation as last weekends excellent home win against Sunderland and we started the game pretty well, keeping the ball and dictating the pace. It was probably the best away half of football I've seen this season from Town who pressed well all over the pitch, denying Wycombe the time and space to make effective decisions. It's a tactic that requires good fitness levels and it was pleasing to see us not waver when Wanderers managed a forward ball. It was a hard-working 45 minutes, which kept one of Skybet League One's best teams in its own half most of the time. The only area in which we didn't excel was going forward. That's not to say we were poor, just that we were working so hard to occupy Wycombe that we didn't get quite enough penetration to take a lead. Wanderers played their part in that too, they defended well when they needed to but when we won the ball back, possession seemed more important than pushing forward.
Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth had seen enough by half time and his team came out with a desire to quicken their game, leaving us less time to get close and pressurize. Having said all of that, I was still utterly gutted when Wycombe got their goal because we could have prevented it. It was about the only serious defensive error we made all game but Wycombe are in the sort of form to exploit a quick lapse in concentration, however rare. From then on, the Chairboy's looked more likely to extend their lead than concede an equaliser but you'd expect that from a team at the top of the division.
With Sam Ricketts taking charge of his 50the game for Shrewsbury Town, it's a good opportunity to have a quick look back at how things have gone. When Sam arrived at Montgomery Waters Meadow, we knew he'd done well with Wrexham for half a season but we also knew that his experience was limited to just that spell in the National League. His achievements in the time he's been with us are relatively obvious, his first priority would have been to not get us relegated and thankfully he achieved that. I'm not sure we were in a dangerous position when we parted with Sam's predecessor but the first prerequisite of any new job is to not make things any worse. That may seem like setting the bar low but for me, it seemed a minimum requirement to achieve before being given the opportunity to plan for this season.
One of the things I've been impressed with is Sam's ability to bring in players with experience of a higher level of football. Shrewsbury is a wonderful place but there are many more glamorous clubs out there, which are more likely to draw a player’s attention. I was impressed at Sam bringing in players like Ro-Shaun Williams and Tyrese Campbell in from Manchester United and Stoke City. You could reasonably argue that League One is the right place for both players but there are usually 23 other clubs in this division and they chose Shrewsbury and Sam. His signings in the closed season were equally impressive with Aaron Pierre being my pick of the bunch. I was also quite pleased to see Sam not just signing players to get a body in, instead, keeping his nerve until he was able to bring in Jason Cummings and Callum Lang, both proven goalscorers.
We've also had some memorable games so far under Sam Ricketts, beating Stoke away last season and pushing both them and Wolves to a replay in the F.A. Cup. He seems to be carrying on Shrewsbury Towns tradition of playing up to better quality opposition, which stretches back at least as far as when I was a kid in the late 1970s.
As far as I'm concerned, Sam Ricketts is doing a decent job for a new manager with less than 100 games under his belt. He'd be the first to admit that there is so much more to learn in a management career but we go into every game knowing we have a chance of a good result, even against top-quality opposition in the cup competitions.
Speaking of cup competitions, the Emirates F.A. Cup is returning to Montgomery Waters Meadow with Bradford City visiting this weekend in the first round. After last season’s relegation, the Bantams are pushing for promotion but their cup form so far hasn't been inspired with defeats in both the Leasing.com Trophy and Carabao Cup. That said, the F.A. Cup is a different matter and they're likely to want to push us all the way.
Before that, we have a Tuesday night under the floodlights against third-placed Peterborough United in League One. After a poor start to the season, Posh are on the hunt for a promotion position and will push us very hard. Although they've lost their last game and drawn the one before that, they have plenty of attacking threats to worry about. However, we've just played two of the divisions strongest teams and haven't done too badly at all, so another home win is more than possible.