Shrewsbury Town 1 - 0 Blackpool | League One | 16/12/2017


Pre-match
A recent dip in results for Shrewsbury had seen them overtaken by Wigan at the top of League One, meaning they entered the game in second position. Similarly, Blackpool's form over the last six games almost matched that of their opponents, they started the game in 14th.

Looking at the team sheet for the two sides, there were a number of names that jumped out at me. Jimmy Ryan spent a season with Shrewsbury (I remember him as a very good footballer) and Nathan Delfouneso and Jay Spearing both played in the Premier League with Aston Villa and Liverpool respectively.

Teams
Shrewsbury: Henderson; Bolton, Nsiala, Sadler, Beckles; B Morris, Whalley , Nolan, Ogogo, Rodman (Payne 88); C Morris (John-Lewis 89)
Subs: Riley, Godfrey, Dodds, Gnahoua, John-Lewis, MacGillivray, Payne

Blackpool: Allsop, Mellor, Robertson, Tilt, Daniel, Solomon-Otabor, Spearing, Ryan, (Gnanduillet 70), Longstaff (Philliskirk 70), Cooke, Delfouneso (Quigley 81)
Subs: Williams, Taylor, Aimson, D'Almeida, Gnanduillet, Philliskirk, Quigley

First Half
The first half started in an even manner, neither side getting any shots on target, but Shrewsbury had more possession in dangerous areas, assisted by Blackpool struggling to keep the ball and regularly found Shrewsbury players with passes in their own half. However, Blackpool almost took the lead from a free kick as Carlton Morris got his head to the cross, but it was directed towards his own goal, fortunately Henderson was alert to it and tipped the ball over his crossbar.

Shrewsbury's first opportunity fell to Jon Nolan after being found by Shaun Whalley. In the centre of the pitch, with space and no-one challenging him, he took aim but his shot flew over the bar.

Second Half
Shrewsbury took the lead through Jon Nolan. After neat interplay from a throw-in between Carlton Morris and Whalley, saw the ball passed to Nolan who drove at the Blackpool defence and struck left footed from 18 yards.

Blackpool's best chances both came from corners, both times the attackers had strong headers just wide of the goal.

Late on, some neat interplay starting near the Shrewsbury penalty area saw the ball end up with Jon Nolan again. This time out wide on the wing he struck a shot from 35 yards to which the goalkeeper did well to tip over the bar.

Final Thoughts
This was a typical near-Christmas match - the attendance was slightly lower than might have been expected otherwise, fans were a bit quieter and the weather probably impacted how the teams played.

Although there wasn't a huge amount of goal mouth action, I did enjoy how the match unfolded, both teams attacked and looked to get goals, but perhaps there was a lack of quality in the final third.

The referees didn't seem to endear themselves to either set of fans, with strange decisions and the referee getting in the way of passes of both sides and I'm sure the assistant referee took out a Blackpool attacker in the second half (not that I'm complaining). Also, Blackpool took every opportunity to waste time and gain yards at throw-ins, but when Shrewsbury took the lead they were being hurried by the officials at every breakdown.  As a fan this is infuriating, be consistent and don't penalise a team just because they are winning!

Man of the Match - Jon Nolan
I really like Jon Nolan as a player, he's got great ability and is a tough cookie (especially compared to some of the Blackpool players), taking tackles and jumping back up to snap into a challenge of his own.

He was the spark to Shrewsbury's play and he had the best opportunities to score, but his overall play was so important to the victory.


Film Night | The Polar Express [2004]


“Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see.”

🚂

This Christmas I’ve decided that I want to watch at least 4 new Christmas films because last year when I typed up my Five Favourite Friday... Family Friendly Festive Films, I struggled to complete the list. I’d heard great things about The Polar Express, so I made this my first Christmas film of the year.

The story revolves around Hero Boy, a doubter, someone who is questioning the existence of Santa. On Christmas Eve his room starts to shake and gets lit up from something outside, The Polar Express. The train, which takes children that are need some encouragement to grow as people to the North Pole and see Santa Claus. Hero Boy meets a number of other children who he helps on the journey north.

I managed to sell watching the film to Nikki down to the fact Tom Hanks stars in the film, little did I know that he plays most of the roles, including Hero Boy, the conductor, Santa Claus (the list goes on), so you know what you’re going to get in terms of the voice acting. However some of the voices lacked conviction for the emotions I was expecting, perhaps that was just me though.

I enjoyed the style of the film, taking into account its 13 years old. I’d seen pictures of Tom Hanks in motion capture for the role so they could recreate his likeness in the film through CGI. It worked a treat, however I did have a bit of an issue with when the characters spoke, as it didn’t seem to line up with when their mouths moved, but I found it easy to ignore after a few minutes. As was the fashion in the early 2000’s there were scenes that felt included just for 3D experiences, which felt unnecessary and detracted from the story (skiing down the room of the carriages), and other bits that didn’t seem to make sense physically (sliding across the ice).

Despite the flaws I spotted in the film I did enjoy it, perhaps not enough to make it on to my favourites list and I probably won’t go out of my way to watch it again, but it helped me get in the Christmas spirit. The stories fun, animation strong and it kept my 2 year old hooked for an hour so that was a bonus!

‘The Polar Express’ [2004] - 3/5

Shrewsbury Town 2 - 0 Morecambe | FA Cup Round Two | 02/12/2017


Pre-match
The second round of the FA Cup brought Morecambe to the Montgomery Waters Meadow.

Losing the last two games in the league, the FA Cup offered a chance to get back to winning ways. Having beaten Aldershot 5-0 in the previous round, and playing a team struggling in a lower league, fans were confident of progressing to the third round where the top league teams get added to the draw.

I spoke to a Morecambe fan on the way into the ground and he said that their biggest threat was Kevin Ellison, someone who has been around the lower leagues for a number of seasons, but fortunately for Shrewsbury he picked up an injury in their last league game. The fan picked out that goalkeeper Barry Roche represented the biggest weakness with poor commandment of his penalty area, we were hoping that Shaun Whalley and Alex Rodman would be on top of their game and put plenty of crosses in for Stefan Payne to fight for.

Teams
Shrewsbury: MacGillivray; Bolton, Nsiala, Beckles, Sadler; B Morris, Whalley (C Morris 80), Nolan, Godfrey (Dodds 59), Rodman (Gnahoua 70); Payne
Subs: Gregory, Riley, C Morris, Dodds, Gnahoua, John-Lewis, Adams

Morecambe: Roche, Brough (McGowan 45), Kenyon (Oliver 45), Old, Thompson, Fleming, Campbell (Lang 78), Wildig, Lund, Muller, McGurk
Subs: Nizic, McGowan, Winnard, Oliver, Osborne, Rose, Lang

First Half
The early signs were good for Shrewsbury with a number of chances being created, a glanced header by Nsiala from a corner and Stefan Payne dragged a shot just wide from a Jon Nolan pass. Shaun Whalley whipped in a cross 5 yards in front of the goal, but unfortunately no one had gambled to get on end of it. A few minutes later James Bolton slipped the ball to Whalley, who turned his defender inside out then crossing for Rodman to tap home from no distance, 1-0 to Shrewsbury.

Four minutes later, Shrewsbury were presented with a great opportunity for a second as Jon Nolan was played through, bearing down on goal with no one near him, he knocked the ball passed the goalkeeper who brought him down as he went passed. The referee awarded a penalty but didn’t see enough to send the goalkeeper off. Shaun Whalley slotted in the resulting penalty sending the keeper the wrong way. Justice was done and Shrewsbury led by two goals.

Second Half
The second half started with Alex Rodman cutting in from the left only to have a shot blocked, Morecambe broke quickly and the left winger tried a wild shot from 30 dragging it well wide.

There was a good chance for Payne to score after neat interplay with Dodds, but it wasn’t to be. Further good wing play by Whalley gave substitute Lois Dodds an opportunity but the keeper saved well to his left. Shortly after Morecambe had a good chance as they shot from 20 yards straight at MacGillivray. A trick and a flick saw Dodds’ header sail just over the bar.

Morecambe were given a great chance to pull a goal back as James Bolton lost his footing and presented a one on one chance to a Morecambe striker, thankfully MacGillivray stood up strong and saved the shot. Toto Nsiala has raced back and cleared the lines.

Final Thoughts
Ultimately it was the goals in the first half that won Shrewsbury the game. There wasn’t much between the two sides, but Salop edged it and booked a place in the third round. The team performance was better than that of the last game against Bradford, but gaps still appeared in the defence. Thankfully MacGillivray was equal to the few shots that were on target.

I was surprised that Morecambe were struggling in League 2, they looked comfortable on the ball, but a little susceptible to Whalley’s wing play.

Man of the Match - Shaun Whalley
Another good performance from Shaun Whalley who had the beating of the Morecambe defence all game long, he provided the assist for the first goal and confidently stroked home the penalty awarded for the foul on Jon Nolan.

Thankfully there were a few others that looked like they could have been considered for my Man Of The Match, Craig MacGillivray kept a good clean sheet, Jon Nolan ran the midfield and Bryn Morris broke up most of the play before it hit the defenders.

A special mention also goes out to Dean Henderson. The on loan goalkeeper wasn’t given permission to play, but he made an appearance amongst the Town faithful, collecting money for charity from fans after shaving his head in aid of Hope House. The reaction of the fans to his appearance was amazing to witness from the other side of the ground. Henderson led the fans through a full repertoire of songs, before they ended with ‘Hendo is proud Salopian’.