Marcus Braddock takes his weekly look at all things Shrewsbury Town
Frustrated, irritated and furious are three words that accurately describe how I felt after Saturday afternoons game against Oxford. I have other words that I could use, but they'd only get edited out for extreme rudeness. It's enough to say that decisions made, drastically changed how the game looked to be going and that many in the ground felt that the decision might have been a mistake.
We had looked pretty good up until the 33rd minute and having taken the game to the visitors we enjoyed a two-goal lead. Our first was from the irrepressible Dan Udoh out-muscled Rob Dickie to get on the end of a speculative ball forward from Josh Vela. Our second was pretty much down to the tenacity and ability of Callum Lang, who cut in from the left, jinked into the box and then cut the ball like Ronnie O'Sullivan, wrong-footing the keeper and everyone else.
Everything was going our way against one of the strongest teams in the division, and then it all seemed to fall apart, arguably through no fault on our part. First of all, we had to deal with the loss of one of our most influential players, Aaron Pierre, when he had to be replaced through injury. Just a couple of minutes later and we lose another, Josh Vela for a second yellow card. I really don't understand the decision because the player that was supposed to be fouled approached Vela from behind and as he received the ball, he turned and was run into.
So having had to change things because of an injury, Sam Ricketts is forced into a decision, try and hold the lead with ten men or keep with the same strategy. It's a no-win situation for the most part if you push forward you leave holes for a numerically stronger team to exploit. If you sit back and try to defend, you have less possession, and you can end up besieged by a team with that numerical advantage.
In the last few games, Josh Vela seems to have settled into a similar role to that of Ollie Norburn and looks to be forming an excellent central midfield partnership with Dave Edwards. The two of them form a very capable looking defensive midfield pairing that can spring forward quickly. Both have a wealth of experience at a much higher level, and I wonder if Ollie Norburn may have a fight on his hands when he comes back from injury.
A feature of our most recent games has been a formation change that has allowed the forward players more support. It seems to suit both Dan Udoh and Callum Lang who have scored two goals each in the last three games. The work that these two get through is impressive, and their goals are a fitting reward for chasing every ball. They remind me of the famous quote, "the harder I work, the luckier I get".
This weekend we have a trip to Coventry City, a team that hasn't lost since the middle of December when we beat them 2-1. It was only their third defeat of the season for the Sky Blues, who top Skybet League one by five points with a game in hand. I think I might be satisfied with a draw from that one!