Marcus Braddock takes his weekly look at all things Shrewsbury Town
This weekend we saw an extremely encouraging away performance at Fleetwood, a team that beat us so comprehensively earlier in the season. In fairness, the Fleetwood team were in much better form when they beat us, but they still carried an extremely potent threat from their excellent forward line. The difference between our two performances shows how far we have come since the start of the season. I left Montgomery Waters Meadow thinking that we were fortunate to only concede three whereas following last Saturday's, game I wondered if we might have won with a little more luck. Max O'Leary made some excellent saves at on his return after being cup-tied, and although we conceded twice, they were good goals that were difficult to defend against. Sometimes you just have to give some credit to the other side, and despite their recent dip in form, I have a sneaky feeling that Fleetwood won't end up too far from play-off positions.
Before the game, we received a bit of bad news when Wolves recalled Ryan Giles to cover injuries. It's obviously sad for us, but it must speak volumes about the way he's performed for us and say something for the quality of education he's getting here. I really hope he ends up getting a crack at the top flight, he's obviously a lovely lad, and I remember how made up he was after scoring his debut goal against Portsmouth.
It was nice to see Sam Ricketts ready to replace him on the same day he left with the loan of Blackburn youngster Sam Hart. He's said to be quite quick, so that's one of Giles' qualities replaced and if he does as well as the last Hart to play for us, he should do OK!
I notice that the player and manager of the decade poll results have been announced with Shaun Whalley and Paul Hurst winning. I think that Whalley deserves his award, not just for how he plays but for the example he sets. He's obviously got all sorts of tricks in his bag, and we all love a mazy, Whalley dribble, but his hard work also stands out. That's not always something you see in creative players, a great influence on those who play with him and those who watch.
This week we welcome World and European Champions, Liverpool F.C. to the Montgomery Waters Meadow in the Emirates F.A. Cup. We've played some big teams here over the last decade, or so, Manchester United, Chelsea and West Ham stick in mind, but there were also Fulham when they were a top-flight team, and also Swansea when they were going well in the Premier League. That's before you think about the top-flight teams we've played away from the Meadow, I can remember giving Arsenal a shock by scoring first at the Emirates, and we beat a top-flight team away from home for the first time when we beat Leicester. We've probably had more than our fair share of bigger clubs, but at the same time, you have to win your early rounds to be in with a chance, so it's a case of making your own luck.
Hopefully, we can do what's seemingly impossible and get some sort of positive result against the best team in the world, literally. Even with their second eleven, they knocked Everton out of the competition, so what realistic chance do we have? I suppose that now is the time to trot out all the well-worn lines like, "on the day it's 11 against 11." but they're well worn because they're true. As impossible as it might seem, to halt the juggernaut, to stop the unstoppable force, it is just eleven blokes.