This is the first of what I hope is a new series looking ahead to each of our games. I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible, but also as informative as possible.
If there’s anything I’m missing, or that you want to see included, let me know!
Shrewsbury Town, also known as ‘Salop’ the name previously given to Shropshire, play at the Montgomery Waters Meadow, also known as The New Meadow. They lost their opening fixture of the season to Burton Albion, 1-0, and they were tipped by Stacey West readers to finish between 12th and 23rd, so are expected to be in the bottom half of the table.
The Shrews are managed by Steve Cotterill, who is defined by organised sides who are not quite as direct as the Gillingham’s of this world, but who can mix it up when required. They started their game at the weekend in a 3-4-3 formation, and had better xG than their opponents, without managing to be clinical. That was very much an issue last season, they struggled to score enough goals, although credit must be given as they suffered more than any with Covid, losing players, postponing matches and having their manager committed to hospital.
At the weekend, they started with Marko Marosi in goal, with Aaron Pierre, Ethan Ebanks-Blake and Matt Pennington across the back. Their defence is completed by two full-backs, Luke Leahy and Elliott Bennett, although they played wide of a bank of four for the game against Burton. The success of their system is dictated by those two full-backs, with Leahy one of the summer captures at the club. I like him in an attacking role, but at the back, I think he could be exposed.
Josh Vela, David Davies and Shaun Whalley make up a midfield three, similar in structure to ours, with two holding and Whalley at the top of the three. He did come off this weekend though, with former Manchester City man Nathanael Ogbeta coming on, at which point Salop went to a more conventional 3-5-2. Remember, this is a cup game so there’s likely to be some flexibility in how they line up tomorrow.
Up top, Daniel Udoh will play off Ryan Bowman this season. Bowman signed from Exeter City in the summer and is a physical threat, whilst former Telford man Udoh has eight league goals in 56 games. Rekeil Pyke could get a run-out tomorrow night, he came on for the final part of Tuesday’s game and could be given the nod to start in a relatively meaningless cup game.
In 47 previous meetings, both teams have triumphed 18 times, with 11 draws. Tomorrow cannot be a draw, there must be a winner on the night, so one team will move ahead in terms of history.
City won the last meeting between the two 1-0, courtesy of Jorge Grant’s 11th-minute strike. We also won the last cup meeting between the two, thrashing them 4-1 in the EFL Trophy last season. We’ve only met three times in cup competitions, losing 2-1 in 2002 and obviously winning the final 1-0 in 2018.