Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mr Consistent Fan

The mighty Shrews took on Darlington yesterday. It was my third Town game of the season. It turned out to be the third time in a row I’ve seen Town win 1-0. For the third time they won a game they could easily have lost. And a new trend - this was the second game I’ve seen in a row that the opposition had a man sent off.

I’d already told a couple of people that I was expecting a 1-0 win because I was on a ‘run’. Shrewsbury scored after 4 minutes, then held on for 91 (86 + 5 minutes stoppage time) in a decidedly ropey game. The official stat is that Darlington had 58% of the possession. It certainly looked like it, and it almost paid off for the visitors. But for two fine saves by Luke Daniels and a last minute reprieve when the ball screwed across the Town 6-yard box in the penultimate minute, they could have easily lost this. Darlington were a physically stronger side and seemed to ghost through the Shrewsbury midfield with very little opposition.

The transfer window hasn’t been kind to Shrewsbury. they’ve lost a couple of players and only one new player has arrived - Nick Chadwick, who came on in the second half and proceeded to not win a single header. He is apparently ex-Everton, with the emphasis on the ‘ex’.

One or two Town players stood out. Winger Chris Humphrey electrified the crowd with some good runs to the byline and deep into the box on one occasion. Richard Walker had a good game upfront but took some real punishment from Darlington’s bruiser centre-backs. Luke Daniels pulled off those saves mentioned above and looked pretty good with his clearing punches. But he’s only a loan player and will be headed back to West Brom soon. Paul Murray and Neil Ashton battled in midfield, but were too small to really compete. Kelvin Langmead and Graham Coughlan were pretty solid in defence. They had to have a good game, given how much pressure they came under.

Town are now sixth in the table and look good for a play-off place if they can keep winning. But, realistically, this team would get hammered frequently at a higher level. Promotion will mean a rebuild throughout the team from the goalkeeper onwards, and given the economic pressure on football clubs, it’s unlikely they can afford to do that.

Match Factoid: Marc Pugh came on for the l;ast 10 minutes and committed two fouls - the most of any Town player.

My record at the ProStar Stadium: Seen 8, W7, D0, L1

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