The past week has seen a few twists and turns for Shrewsbury Town with our third game in a row against a top League One team and the return of the Emirates FA Cup to Montgomery Waters Meadow. Peterborough brought an excellent goalscoring record with them when they visited on Tuesday night. Truth be told, I'd have taken a 0-0 draw ahead of the game, Peterborough always seem to have a few decent attacking players in their ranks and this year is no different with Mo Eisa, Marcus Maddison and Ivan Toney all scoring into double figures already this season.
It was another game that saw the whole team operate as a defensive unit, with everyone knowing their job and position well.
Some people around me started to get frustrated with the team when they passed the ball around at the back, wanting us to hold a line higher up the pitch and take a few more chances. We'd all like to see free-flowing attacking football from our teams but sometimes you have to just shut the opposition down and be patient. I can understand frustration, I was feeling it too but imagine how frustrated and impotent Peterborough felt.
As with the Sunderland game, the opposition social media outlets were awash with comments about how we are the worst team they'd played and how they couldn't understand how we'd won. It even spread to one of the Peterborough media outlets when one writer lost their composure in defence of Peterborough's superior players.
In the end, the apparently inferior team took the three points despite the penalty, one of two shots on target Posh managed. Thankfully we only needed one, scored by Ethan Ebanks-Landell who was in his first game back from injury. Joe Murphy's penalty save capped an excellent performance from the ex-Bury keeper who replaced an injured Max O'Leary. It must be difficult to sit on the bench after a being hailed the best keeper in League Two last season but he stepped in to help us keep our eighth clean sheet in Skybet League One. Eight clean sheets equals 50% of our games, or put another way, half of the teams that played us, couldn't break our defence.
The other side of that coin is that we've scored fewer goals than any other team in the top half of League One. This means that we still need to improve but I think we have it the correct way around. I'd much rather that we had a decent defence with goals yet to come than a plethora of goals but an inability to keep it tight at the back. If you drill a little further into our results, the last three goals we've conceded have been two defensive mistakes and a penalty. Put another way, the three teams that have scored against us since the end of September have only done so with a little help from us. That's eight games, three conceded, all avoidable. If we can add a couple of extra goals, we're on course for a good season.
Speaking of conceding, Bradford were gifted the opening goal on Saturday because of a bit of a mix up between keeper and defenders. Fortunately, we equalised within ten minutes with a really slick bit of passing and a well-deserved goal from Josh Laurent. It keeps us in the hat for tonight's second round draw on BBC2 at 7 pm this evening. I'm reliably informed that we're ball number 25.
There was good news on the international front with Ollie Norburn becoming the third Town player to be selected for Grenada. Norburn will join Aaron Pierre and Omar Beckles in Concacaf Nations League action against St Kitts and Nevis and also Belize. This gives us a little bit of a headache for the F.A. Cup replay at Bradford next week but there is still a possibility that they could still appear if they beat St Kitts and Nevis. A win will mean they qualify for the full tournament before the Belize game and may be allowed to miss that game to let them play in eight days time.
One game that definitely won't be taking place is next weekend’s game at Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium. Fortunately for us, league games can be postponed because of international selection, unlike the F.A. Cup where time is more of an issue. It might be just as well that we miss that one, they're unbeaten in their last five games and sit just behind us in League One with two games in hand. That postponement means we've just one game this week, against Macclesfield in the Leasing.com Trophy. To say that Macc fans have had a difficult time over the last few seasons is quite an understatement and things look to have come to a head with players threatening strike action last weekend. I'm not exactly sure how that leaves things but as far as I'm aware, our game will be on although its on Wednesday rather than the usual Tuesday. It's also kicking off at 7.30 pm which is a little earlier than a usual evening game.