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’.

Shrewsbury Town 0 - 1 Bradford City | League One | 25/11/2017


Pre-match
I was excited for the visit of Bradford City as I thought they’d set a good benchmark as to how far Shrewsbury have come this season and it would be a good opportunity to bounce back from a couple of defeats recently.

Bradford started the day in fifth and were unbeaten away from home this season, averaging three goals a game when they were the visitors. Shrewsbury were still top, despite being beaten by Bury in their last match.


Teams

Shrewsbury: Henderson; Bolton, Nsiala, Beckles, Sadler (John-Lewis ‘90); B Morris; Whalley, Godfrey (C Morris ‘74), Nolan, Rodman; Payne
Subs: MacGillivray, Riley, C Morris, Dodds, Gnahoua, John-Lewis, Adams


Bradford City: Sattelmaier, Reeves, Kilgallon, Vincelot, Law (Robinson ‘54), Wyke, Taylor (Thompson ‘76), Gilliead, Hendrie, Knight-Percival, McMahon
Subs: Raeder, Thompson, Poleon, McCartan, Pybus, Patrick, Robinson


First Half

The game started in very even fashion, with both teams looking dangerous, Shrewsbury had more of the ball but Bradford looked effective with their long passes over the top of the defence.

Ben Godfrey placed a header just wide from a Shaun Whalley free kick, who in turn had a left footed shot which curled a couple of feet over. Shots continued to rain down on the Bradford goal but none really tested their goalkeeper.

Second Half

Shrewsbury started the second half well and Jon Nolan should have tested the goalkeeper, but unfortunately he didn’t make contact with the ball with a half-volley. The chances continued with Shaun Whalley out jumping the Bradford left back and placed straight at the goalkeeper.

Against the run of play, Bradford took the leader when Toto Nsiala sliced a block into his own net. Bradford had cleared the ball and a simple knock on took Beckles out of the game, leaving Sadler to chase back the Bradford forward, but couldn’t get goal side of him. The ball was crossed in and Nsiala, at the near post, tried to intercept the ball but sent the ball spinning passed Henderson who was left flat footed on the opposite side of the goal.

Shrewsbury continued to press and forced the goalkeeper into several good saves as the game wore on. First Carlton Morris, then Whalley drew the goalkeeper into parrying the shot, but Shrewsbury couldn’t capitalise.

Final Thoughts

There was an understandable feeling of disappointment at the end of the game. Bradford didn’t look like a team at the top end of the table, with negative tactics and a ‘hoof’ it up the field mentality, but it worked as they nicked a goal and Shrewsbury failed to score.

Having gone a good way into the season, and had the pleasure of watching some really strong performances by the team, it felt disappointing that things didn’t quite click for the team. Perhaps some players are in need of a rest because most of the team have played a lot of games.


On reflection Shrewsbury can count themselves unfortunate, as Bradford hardly troubled their hosts whereas Shrewsbury had a few good chances to score but failed to find the net. On another day, Shrewsbury would have got a couple of goals and a clean sheet, walking away with the three points.


Man of the Match - Shaun Whalley

Whalley was probably the brightest spark for Shrewsbury and gave the Bradford left back a torrid time. He showed glimpses of why fans love him, but regrettably no-one could finish off the chances he created.


Being Me #2 - Too Much Baggage!



This is one of those topics that I initially thought of when I was considering this series, and I hope that I don’t come across as horrible, in the end it’s for their own good...

I commute to and from the office by train, so I get to see all sorts of people. Most are traveling to work, college or school, but because the trains go through Shrewsbury (a hub for a number of Welsh lines) to Birmingham International, I also see a lot of people who are obviously going on their holidays. Some of these people haven’t considered the consequences of what they’re carrying.

When I see people struggling with their luggage I don’t offer to help.

I realise this might sound mean or selfish, but if people can’t manage at the beginning of their journey, how are they planning to deal with all their belongings when they get to where they are heading. In my eyes I’m letting them learn that they should only take what they can carry.

That’s that off my chest. What are your thoughts on people that can’t manage everything they carry with them? Would you help, or are you like me? Leave a comment below!

Five Favourite Friday... Children in Need Songs


Tonight sees the BBC hold their annual telethon to raise money for children’s charities, Children In Need. One of my favourite things to do with the night is the official songs that are released as one of the ways of generating money.

In honour of this years Children In Need event, I’m going to go through my favourite Children In Need Songs.

1) Lou Reed and Various Artists - Perfect Day 
Such an amazing ensemble of stars turned out for a very iconic cover of Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’, a song that has a positive vibe to it.



2) Gareth Malone’s All Star Choir - Wake Me Up
The celebrity choirmaster pulled together an ‘all star’ choir to cover Avicii’s dance track ‘Wake Me Up’ and it’s a very good take on it!



3) S Club 7 - Never Had A Dream Come True 
A bit soppy, but very listenable to.



4) The Collective - Teardrop
It was only as I was researching this list that I heard this song, again it’s another group of popular artists of the day recording the classic Massive Attack track.



5) Peter Kay’s Animated All Star Band - The Official BBC Children In Need Medley 
A modern classic in my eyes, creating a wonderful medley of great tracks and it brought a number of songs to my attention that I now love. It’s also got a great video accompanying the track featuring dozens of familiar children’s animated characters, from Muffin the Mule to Iggle Piggle, Bagpuss to Scooby Doo.



A bit brief, but there we have my favourite Children In Need Songs.

You can donate to the cause here - https://mydonatetelethonsappeals.bt.com/donate/cin2017/


Baby Update - Trip to Hospital & Consultant Appointment



This is just a brief update on how things are going with Nikki and baby as I realise it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post on the subject.

I’ll start off with an apology to Nikki. A couple of weeks back (I think Week 16), Nikki was suffering with cramps and had a feeling something wasn’t right. Unfortunately, I was under the weather and had spent the morning asleep and when I woke up I was being asked if I was going to join Nikki or not. Not really being aware of my surroundings, I said I would stay at home with our son and look after him. What I hadn’t realised was that Nikki had been on to the phone to her midwife and she had been told to head to the MLU (Midwife Lead Unit) at Telford Hospital. I was being asked if I was going her! It was only as Nikki pulled away that I felt huge guilt creep over me as I didn’t know what was happening and I should have gone too to support her. Instead I stayed at home watching movies with my son, not really knowing what was wrong, if it was serious or not and unable to be influence proceedings. I kept in touch with Nikki whilst she was at the hospital, but I should have been there in person. Luckily, things were going ok and Baby was still safe, but the midwife wanted Nikki to stay there until they had heard Baby’s heartbeat. Although it took a while (about 2 hours), Baby’s heart was eventually found and everything turned out alright.

So Nikki, when you read this, please realise that I’m sorry for not coming with you. I pride myself on trying to be there for you at every step, but I feel I let you down on this occasion.

The week afterwards, Nikki had an appointment with the consultant to discuss how Baby was going to be delivered. As our son was delivered via caesarean but Nikki wanted/wants to try giving birth as naturally as possibly with child no. 2. I wasn’t sure why Nikki wanted me there, it was to be a backbone for Nikki, in case she get pressured into agreeing to a planned cesarean and to push for a natural birth if possible. After what felt like an eternity in the waiting room (in real time about 20 minutes), we were taken to see the consultant, who said it was ok for Nikki to try for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean). So no need for me to act menacing, Nikki was recommended what she wanted with no concerns from the consultant. The only thing she had to be aware of was that by giving birth naturally there was a risk that her scar may tear as a result of the pressure create by pushing (I’m picturing something from a horror movie!).

After these two events I’m glad to say everything is progressing well, even if Nikki is feeling under the weather at the moment. We’re off for our 20 week scan later this week, so I’m sure there’ll be another update before long. Until then...

Shrewsbury Town 0 - 1 Walsall | Checkatrade Trophy | 07/11/2017





Pre-match
Having comfortably seen off Aldershot in the FA Cup and already qualified for the next round of the Checkatrade trophy, Shrewsbury could afford to experiment with their formation and personnel against Walsall.

Walsall had all but guaranteed progression to the next round also, meaning the match had very little riding on it.

Teams
Shrewsbury: MacGillivray; Godfrey Beckles, Sadler; Riley, Ogogo, Gnahoua (Shelis 81), B Morris, Rodman (Whalley 67); Payne, John-Lewis (C Morris 67)
Subs: Whalley, C Morris, Dodds, Adams, Gallagher, Gregory, Shelis

Walsall: Roberts, Kinsella, Wilson, Guthrie, Leahy, Ismail, Chambers, Morris, Edwards, Kouhyar, Bakayoko
Subs: Gillespie, Devlin, Jackson, Oztumer, Flanagan, Donnellan

First Half
The first half was a dreary affair with not much happening from either team although Walsall did hit the post early on after a save by Craig MacGillivray.

Shrewsbury seemed to not understand what formation they were supposed to be playing and they lacked the structure and organisation that I’ve come to expect from them this season. A number of the players looked lost, perhaps you can carry one player that’s out of sorts but any more than that and you’re setting yourself up for failure.

As the half wore on, Shrewsbury had a couple of half chances, Stefan Payne got a bit of space, but his shot was weak and straight at the goalkeeper then Joe Riley struck a shot that flew just over the crossbar. There were signs the team was starting to gel.

Second Half
The formation was altered at half time and it seemed to suit Shrewsbury better, although they were a long way from there best.

A flash point occurred when Ben Godfrey slide in to win the ball after a sloppy pass from Whalley, despite getting the ball he clattered into a Walsall player who stayed down after the tackle. The referee saw enough for a straight red card whiteout any hesitation.

In the dying moments of the game, Walsall got the only of the goal of the game as their striker was on hand to turn the ball home into a near empty net after a sliced clearance from Shelis.

Final Thoughts
The game was poor.

After the entertainment in the FA Cup, this was a let down against a local rival. There was very little between the two sides, and the goal that separated them was suitably a reflextuon of the game, lacking quality.

As mentioned, Shrewsbury struggled with their formation in the first half and players were running round aimlessly at points. Paul Hurst’s post-match interview alluded to his disappointment at his players attitude during the match.

Man of the Match - Matt Sadler
Very few contenders for the man of the match. Matt Sadler was one of the few players that put a shift in on the night and looked relatively sure in his role marshalling the Walsall attack.

Shrewsbury Town 5 - 0 Aldershot | FA Cup First Round | 04/11/2017

Shrewsbury Town 5 - 0 Aldershot | FA Cup First Round | 04/11/2017

Pre-match
In their last game in the league at Peterborough, Shrewsbury had lost their unbeaten start to the season thanks to a wonder strike from 35 yards. The next game presented Aldershot as the opposition in the first round of the FA Cup, so this presented a good opportunity to restore confidence.

Aldershot appear to have started the season well, currently sitting in 9th in the National Football League a few points off the playoffs.

As with most Cup games against clubs from lower league, I’m always wary of how players will react (especially as I’ve witnessed defeats to Staines Town and Histon). But having seen how Paul Hurst has drilled the players this season I felt confident of victory, probably by a couple of goals and not conceding.

The teams were announced and Shrewsbury confirmed all loan players had be allowed to play with the exception of Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

Teams
Shrewsbury: MacGillivray; Riley, Nisiala, Sadler, Beckles; Whalley, Godfrey, B Morris, Rodman (C Morris 67); Nolan (Gnahoua 44); Payne (Dodds 82)
Subs: C Morris, Dodds, Gnahoua, Bolton, John-Lewis, Adams, Gregory

Aldershot: Smith, Alexander, Reynolds (Fowler 69) Evans, McDonnell, Oyeleke (Gallagher 69) Kellerman, Fenelon (Rowe 69) Robert, Mensah, Rendell
Subs: Skinner, Okojie, Gallagher, Rowe, Arthur, Fowler

First Half
The first half started evenly with both sides using the ball well, although some of the players brought into the Shrewsbury side looked a little nervous in possession of the ball.

The first clear cut opportunity resulted in the games first goal as Alex Rodman was left open at the back post to head home a Joe Riley cross, giving the home side the lead.

A second goal soon followed when the impressive Rodman burst into the box only to be brought down by the goalkeeper as he nicked the ball passed him. Shaun Whalley stepped up to take the resulting penalty, smashing the ball straight down the middle of the goal.

Having broken the offside trap, Stefan Payne should have added a third when he raced clear only to have a shot hit the goalkeepers legs and then play fizzled out. Shrewsbury we’re starting to dominate the game, however there was slight concern amongst the supporters as Jon Nolan limped off the field just before half time.

Second Half
Shrewsbury continued the second half as they had finished the first, with Payne getting a goal after 64 minutes. This time Whalley broke through the defence to face the goalkeeper, and unselfishly passed the ball to Payne who finished first time into the empty net.

As in the first half another goal quickly followed as Rodman turned a defender and squared the ball to Gnahoua, who swept home a fourth goal from a fourth different scorer.

And it was soon five as Carlton Morris Coolly finished shortly after being brought on clipping the underside of the crossbar after being sent clean through.

There were still further opportunities that could have seen Morris bag a hat-trick but it wasn’t to be as the game ended 5-0.

Final Thoughts
A professional football performance was needed from Shrewsbury Town and that’s exactly what the fans got. In truth I think that they could have been better in possession, but it’s difficult to argue with five goals, all from different scorers, and no goals conceded. Whereas in recent seasons we could have struggled with a game like this, Shrewsbury kept Aldershot at arms length and were never really troubled, however Aldershot did go about it the right way (not ‘parking the bus’), trying to the end to give their supporters a goal to take home.

Man of the Match - Alex Rodman
Although a number of players impressed me, Alex Rodman was pivotal to today’s victory, scoring the first goal and winning a penalty for the second.

When Paul Hurst brought Rodman to Shrewsbury Town, he said he was an old fashioned winger and today he gave the Aldershot fullback a prime example of this.

We’re having a...


Would you like baby to be a boy or a girl?

Since we announced our pregnancy, this is the most common response, and I’ve been honest in my answer. If I were to choose, I’d love a little brother for our 2yo. But this is for exactly the same reasons that I wanted our first child to be a son. I think little boys are easier to deal with and are traditionally more tactile, more likely to bounce back (that’s what I hoped). Also being male, I felt it’d be easier for me to pass in knowledge from my experiences but I know Nikki wanted a girl for the same sort of reasons. But I appreciate that if we are to have a little girl, I’d be just as happy as she will offer different experiences to those with my son (pretty dresses for one as Nikki keeps telling me).

At the end of the day, so long as baby is safe and healthy, that’s the main thing and I’ll love them no matter what.

Gender Scan Time

Being the impatient sort of person she is, Nikki booked a gender scan to find out if we were going to be giving out 2 year old a little brother or sister. The scan was booked for 23rd October initially for early in the morning but it was moved to later in the day so we our family members could join us.

I was under strict warning that I wasn’t to be late arriving with the threat that Nikki would happily start the scan without me. So, like a good partner I arrived quarter of an hour before the scan and ahead of the rest of our party - I wasn’t going to miss this for the world. A few minutes later and everyone else pulled up in time for the 16:00 appointment.

Our 2 year old went to play whilst we sat and looked at the many baby name books on the table in the waiting area, as the expectant mother before us had difficulty getting baby to ‘show’ for them. Eventually it was our turn to be seen. With our 2 year old, my parents, Nikki’s parents and her sister there was quite a clan of us in the room.

The sonographer started the scan and immediately allayed my fears by saying she found the heartbeat. Within a minute or so, she said she had seen what she needed for the gender scan and she revealed we are going to have a little...

Girl!
🎊🎀🎊

We are both ecstatic that we will have a little girl joining our tribe, due in April 2018.

Exciting News


We’ll travel back a few months to mid July. Nikki was complaining about feeling ill and run down, despite resting up for a few days she still wasn’t feeling right. A couple more days passed and on 30th July, Nikki came down stairs and waved a pregnancy test under my nose. I had a quick look at it, saw a single line and realised I had no idea what this meant (I assumed it was a positive result but I genuinely didn’t know if it was good news or not). After a few seconds of confusion on my part Nikki confirmed that she was pregnant and we were going to have a little brother or sister to our 2 year old.

I think it was safe to say Nikki was excited by the news, me, I as always was a bit more muted at the news. It wasn’t that I wasn’t thrilled by the news, however my mind started to consider possible outcomes and it left me worried about what we were going to do. Thoughts about where baby would sleep, would we be able to reuse our sons older clothes, how will our son react! All scary thoughts.

Nikki continued to feel ill, but at least she had a reason for it. Fast forward a few weeks and Nikki made an appointment at the doctors to investigate some abdominal pains she was experiencing, they recommended that she have a early pregnancy scan to make sure that everything was going ok. She asked me to come along, and being a good daddy I obliged. At the scan we found that baby had a heart beat and everything was progressing well. We were also were told that there were signs of a second sac, and that it was likely a second pregnancy that hadn’t continued. In truth this was a shock, but at the same we both felt blessed to have one healthy child on the way, and that it was difficult to feel sad about something we didn’t know existed (of course it’s sad but...)

We had a second scan a fortnight later (at week 8 of the pregnancy) to check that everything was progressing well. I’m glad to say it was. We got to see baby again, which was fantastic. I was amazed to find out that baby had grown from 4mm (tiny!) to 20mm in just 2 weeks. 4 weeks later, at the 12 Week scan baby had grown to 55mm, another massive jump in length. In all honesty I had forgotten how amazing the journey baby progresses along is. As with our first, each time we’ve been for a scan I’ve been so relieved that everything has gone ok.

I think Nikki is finally getting over her morning sickness, but she has started to get migraines in their place. I’m saying that she is worrying too much about the things she can’t control, so if you’re reading this Nikki - Chill, concentrate on getting baby here safely and everything will fall into place.

Next week we’re due to go for a gender scan. Again, in the spirit of honesty, I’d like another little boy. From a practical point of view, we’ve got lots of baby boy clothes in our house and we know several people that have boys too so clothing shouldn’t be an issue and the boys could share a room for longer, all practical things... and Nikki would have two mummies boys. However if it’s a little girl, everyone will be able to buy ‘pretty’ things and spoil her and we’ll have the complete family. I don’t really care what the gender scan reveals so long as baby is still developing healthily.

I’ll be back next week with another update, probably revealing whether we’re having a boy or girl.

Shrewsbury Town 1 - 0 Fleetwood Town | League One | 21/10/2017


Shrewsbury Town 1 - 0 Fleetwood Town | League One | 21/10/2017

Pre-match
Shrewsbury had returned to winning ways on Tuesday as they eased themselves to a 4-0 victory against Bristol Rovers. Paul Hurst named an unchanged team for the visit of Fleetwood Town, who came into the game off the back of two draws. Interestingly, both teams had managed to score in each of their games this season and both would be looking to extend this record.

The game was due to be played as a storm hit town, which would have an impact on the type of football played, it would be interesting to see which team adapted to the conditions best.

Teams
Shrewsbury: Henderson; Bolton (Payne 72), Nisiala, Sadler, Brown (Beckles 76); Whalley, Godfrey, Agogo, Rodman; Nolan; C Morris (John-Lewis 85)
Subs: MacGillivray, Beckles, Dodds, Gnahoua, John-Lewis, B Morris, Payne

Fleetwood: Cairns, Coyle, Eastham, Pond, Cargill, Bell, Dempsey, Schwabl (Hunter 75), O'Neill (Grant 62), McAleny (Hiwula-Mayifuila 63), Cole
Subs: Neal, Hiwula-Mayifuila, Burns, Grant, Rodgers, Hunter, Sowerby

First Half
It quickly became apparent that Fleetwood had come to the Montgomery Waters Meadow, playing a defensive 5-3-2 and when the ball went out of play, you witnessed a team instructed to waste time, this was bourn out with the first booking of the game being issued for repeatedly taking too long to take a throw in.

The half ended with Juinor Brown having two efforts on goal. The first saw him come off the left wing finding some space to release a right footed drive at the goalkeeper. The second chance came from the left backs head as a corner was swung in, but the goalkeeper was equal to it.

Second Half
With the wind now working against Shrewsbury, a few supporters around me thought it might work against the team, but if anything Shrewsbury were more dominant after the break. However Fleetwood probably had the best opportunity to take the lead as a loose pass out from the back resulted in a quick two on one break. Fortunately, and probably deservedly given the negative tactics employed, the attacker with the ball slipped on the wet surface as he was bearing down on goal.

With the game heading towards full time, Shrewsbury won a corner. Shaun Whalley send the ball over for Nisiala to win a header and loop the ball towards goal, just over a defender on the post to send the supporters wild... the players reactions weren’t too bad either. This left only a few minutes added time to see out the game.

Final Thoughts
Against a team, obviously set up to frustrate Shrewsbury with the intentions of trying to get a draw, it felt very satisfying to nick a goal right at the death to win the game. With the goal coming in the 88th minute, there was no way Fleetwood come mount any pressure to try and force an equaliser.

Fleetwood never really looked like threatening Shrewsbury’s unbeaten record, it was whether Shrewsbury could force a winning goal.

The biggest concern amongst most supporters was the injury sustained by Juionr Brown just before he was substituted.

Man of the Match - Toto Nisiala
In a game that was hugely influenced by the stormy conditions, Toto was the defender we’ve come to love against Fleetwood. Quick across the ground to cover danger, strong in the tackle and dominant in the air. In the first half there was a perfect example of this as he raced back to make strong crunching tackles in quick succession, to really endear himself to the Salop faithful. His goal at the death to keep Shrewsbury at the top of the league was the cherry on the cake.



Shrewsbury Town 4 - 0 Bristol Rovers | League One | 17/10/2017

Shrewsbury Town 4 - 0 Bristol Rovers | League One | 17/10/2017

Pre-match
With two draws away from home, Shrewsbury were looking to get back to winning ways and at the very least continue the unbeaten start to the season. Bristol Rovers started the game having not drawn a game in the league. Something had to give, but I was hopeful that the town could get back to winning ways.

Teams
Shrewsbury: Henderson; Bolton, Nisiala, Sadler, Brown; Whalley, Godfrey, Ogogo (B Morris 85), Rodman; Nolan (Gnahoua 81); C Morris (Payne 66)
Subs: MacGillivray, Beckles, Dodds, Gnahoua, John-Lewis, B Morris, Payne

Bristol Rovers: Slocombe, Partington, Lockyer, Sweeney, Bola, Sercombe, O Clarke, Lines (Sinclair 45), Gaffney (Leadbitter 57), Harrison, Nichols (Telford 72)
Subs: Leadbitter, Brown, Broadbent, Telford, Moore, Smith, Sinclair

First Half
The first attempt at goal fell the way of the Gas, with the ball sitting up nicely to be struck by the Rovers attacker but the ball looped forward going narrowly wide, just catching the frame behind the goal. It was Shrewsbury, however, who took the lead after a fast counterattack from a Rovers corner. Henderson came out to claim the ball before throwing the ball to Whalley, he made his way to the halfway line before releasing Alex Rodman. Rodman continued the charge towards goal and snuck a shot under the goalkeeper to make it 1-0 after 12 minutes.

A further 12 minutes in, Shrewsbury extended their lead with Carlton Morris heading in a second from a left wing cross. Morris had done well to peak away at the far post before hanging in the air to power home his header. In truth the keeper should have done better with trying to keep the header out, but he only seemed to help the ball over the line. On 29 minutes, a third goal was tapped in by Jon Nolan, sweeping in a cross from Morris.

Junior Brown wrapped up a sensational first half performance by nodding in a fourth goal, unmarked from a free kick, just before half time. Understandably the Rovers fans jeered as their players left the field at half time.

Second Half
It was Brown again who came closest to adding to Shrewsbury’s goal tally in the second half driving into the box before unleashing a left footed shot in to the keeper’s near post, but the goalie stood firm and kept the shot out. In truth, Shrewsbury were able to take their foot off the gas, an keep Bristol Rovers at bay without the need to push forwards... even if the better chances fell to Salop.

In the dying moments Bristol managed their first shot on target that drew ironic cheers from the remaining fans.

Final Thoughts
The first half performance was probably as good as I can remember in a long time. Each goal knocked a bit more wind out of the sails of Rovers. I had thought the visitors had looked a threat going forwards, but in truth they were always playing in front of the defence, with Godfrey and Agogo breaking up play more as the game wore on. With the game won in the first half, Salop were able to control the game and ensure that Bristol weren’t given a sniff of goal. It was probably the best professional performance I’ve seen in some time, so much so that Paul Hurst was afforded the opportunity to withdraw two of his key men and give them the chance to receive standing ovations.

Man of the Match - Abu Ogogo
The vast majority of players could easily have been considered for my MOTM, Ogogo stood out for me by continuing his efforts from the first half into the second, harassing the Rovers midfield and defence, not giving them a moment to consider there options. Alongside Agogo, Godfrey and Nolan helped pull the strings in midfield whilst Whalley provided a number of assists, Rodman and Carlton Morris worked their socks off and got a goal each. The back four looked strong and composed throughout the game. That leaves Dean Henderson who didn’t put a foot wrong, but he wasn’t called in to action that much. Such a strong team showing.

I also want to mention the fans as they produced a great atmosphere particularly in the first half. It was definitely the case that the players inspired the fans, who in turn spurred the players on. One of the best nights for the club in a long time! 

Being Me #1 | Memories Not Souvenirs


I’d thought I’d kick this series off with something that dawned on me whilst recently on holiday with my family.

It was as we walked around one of the many stores in Disneyland thinking about what we wanted to pick up to remember our trip by. It was there that I realised that, to me, memories are more important than trinkets from days out.

Although we did buy plenty of things from Disney, for our son mainly, but I decided that I only wanted to get some small things (a lanyard and pin badge or two), but the memories generated from our holiday will stay with me forever. I’m honest enough to admit that things weren’t perfect on our holiday, but actually that all probably contributed to the memories that we created. The longer than anticipated walk between landmarks in Paris, the backend of a storm hitting Disneyland and torrential weather on our journey south will all stay with me.

Five Favourite Friday... Halloween Costumes

 
I’m back with another Five Favourite Friday post (but not with the subject I’d anticipated) and with it being Friday the 13th I’m going through my favourite Halloween Costumes.
 
Although I never really ‘did’ Halloween growing up (too American for my liking), but there are Costumes that I think suit the celebration. In recent years Nikki has dragged me along to grownup Halloween parties and I’ve made (a poor) attempt at dressing up, first as a zombie patient and then a vampire, but there are much better options out there that will be included.

1) Puns
If you can get a costume that also raises a laugh you’re on to a winner in my book. Some of my favourites are: 
  • ‘Hairy’ Potter - An overly hairy person throwing their clay, an apron and additional hair can make this a quick costume that can be cobbled together at short notice. 
  • Cereal Killer - A simple costume where you affix cereal box covers to your clothes, then walk around with your weapon of choice, fake of course! 
  • French Kiss - stereotyping the French, by wearing a beret and striped shirts with black and white Kiss makeup.
  • Ginger Bread-man - Dress up as a baker and add a ginger wig, easy.
 


2) Creepy Clown
I think what makes them scary is the fact clowns exist and, extenuated by films like ‘It’ [1990 & 2017], there is something inherently creepy about clowns. It’s not difficult to see why some people have a phobia of them (Coulrophobia). A bit like my next favourite, I think you’ve got to throw yourself into being a creepy clown, otherwise you’re just not scary!



3) Zombie
A staple of Halloween costumes and relatively easy to pull off (some people naturally have an almost dead complexion). But as with most of these, the more preparation that you put into it, the better it will look in the end.



4) Werewolf
One of my favourite mythical monsters and quite an easy costume to make with a bit of additional fur here and there.

You can always hope that Halloween isn’t a full moon and you can just go in casual clothes and say you’ve not been affected by the moon’s rays!



5) Ghost - Victorian
Another costume that can be done quickly by doing with bits you may have lying around the house (a white sheet with eyeholes) or going full on with ghostly makeup and wearing mute clothes that make you look like your from the Victorian era.



I hope this inspires you, if you’ve got any favourite Halloween Costumes that you love let me know in the comments below.

Shrewsbury Town 3 - 0 West Bromwich Albion U21s | Checkatrade Trophy | 03/10/2017

Shrewsbury Town 3 - 0 West Bromwich Albion U21s | Checkatrade Trophy | 03/10/2017

Pre-match
On the back of fine league form and a last minute victory in the previous round of matches against Coventry City, Shrewsbury took on West Bromwich Albion’s under 21’s in the second match of the Checkatrade Trophy. Going into the match I was confident that Shrewsbury would manage to beat WBA U21’s, they have looked physical strong, well organised and confident. It could be argued that Shrewsbury would be the strongest side in the competition, being top of League One. However it was difficult to predict what sort of problem WBA U21s would pose.

Looking at the team sheets before the match, Shrewsbury had named a strong starting side with a bench full of first year professionals, the only name I recognised on the opposition team was Oliver Burke, bought in the summer for a rumoured £15m.

Teams
Shrewsbury: MacGillivray; Shelis, Beckles, Sadler, Riley; Gnahoua, B Morris, Adams, Dodds; Carlton Morris (Mwandwe 89), John-Lewis (Barnett 67)
Subs: Gregory, Hughes, Mwandwe, Barnett

West Brom U21s: Palmer, Burke (Pierce 62), Morton, McCourt, Melbourne, Soleman, Jameson, Bradley, Chambers, Brown (Azaz 73), White (Clayton-Phillips 67)
Subs: House, Pierce, Clayton-Phillips, Azaz, Rogers, m Harmon, Hall

First Half
As I had expected, Shrewsbury started the more dominant with a high pressing game, putting significant pressure on the WBA defence, gifting Salop possession in dangerous positions on the pitch. The first good opportunity fell to John-Lewis who collected a pass from Dodds 20 yards from goal and outmuscled a defender only to see his placed shot come back off the post.

Shrewsbury did take the lead shortly afterwards as John-Lewis poked home following Carlton Morris’ header towards goal was pushed away by the goalkeeper. As the half wore on John-Lewis had another opportunity to score, but after getting himself a yard of space, although on target his shot lacked any significant power.

Second Half
The second half followed the pattern set out in the first and Shrewsbury soon added a second goal, to lead 2-0. The impressive Joe Riley, playing at left back, provided his second assist of the night by crossing for Carlton Morris to flick goal-wards, catching the goalkeeper unawares.

It was soon 3-0 as Louis Dodds, collected the ball just outside the area and curled a low shot into the bottom corner of the net - very much giving the score line an appropriate feel. There were later chances for Joe Riley and others as the WBA players started to show signs of fatigue.

Final Thoughts
It was good to see a number of players get some game time, for some it was the first time I’d seen them play, but it was a convincing victory that Shrewsbury thoroughly deserved. I was disappointed with WBA, I expected that these teams would offer some threat, but they didn’t offer anything in attack. I had noted Burke’s name on the team sheet, and although he looked head and shoulders above the rest of the team, he still didn’t look anything special on that performance. Down to the results elsewhere it looks as though Shrewsbury have made it through to the next round, where I’m sure they’ll have no fear of anyone they have to play.

Man of the Match - Carlton Morris
Another good all round performance by the team, so it was difficult to single one player out. It was the first time I had seen Omar Beckles play since his move from Accrington Stanley, and he impressed winning most things that came his way, whilst looking accomplished with the ball at his feet. Arthur Gnahoua looks like he could be a fans favourite if he can displace either Shaun Whalley or Alex Rodman. Also, Christos Shelis making his debut after signing a 2 year deal looks like a good option for the future. But for me Carlton Morris probably edged it, he didn’t stop running, never gave the defence a moments peace on the ball and he got deserved a sly goal on the night.

2017 New Years Resolutions | October Update

 

I've been meaning to do an update on my progress on my resolutions for a really long time (probably back to April, but 'life' got in the way), but I'm finally getting round to considering my 15 resolutions that I wanted to achieve in 2017.
 
Blog Resolutions:
  • Outline what the Five Favourite Friday topic will be in post prior to that week - To date I've done well with this one to date, but as I mentioned in my general update post a few days ago, I'm giving some consideration as to how frequently I'm going to be posting the Five Favourite Friday in future.
  • My Week That Was posts will be issued on a Sunday night - Again, generally I'm managed to stick to this, but 'life' has sometimes stopped me from getting the Posts published. If I'm honest, I could probably have done better with this resolution so far.
  • I will do a weekly review of the Free App Of The Week on the Apple AppStore - I had all kinds of good intentions at the start of the year, but I know I haven't really made much progress with publishing weekly reviews of these apps, I'd argue that the first one I didn't review was because I literally had nothing to say on the app, this then gave me a reason not to do future ones. With the rollout of iOS11, there has been a change to the Appstore meaning that they are doing free app a day and I know I'm not currently disciplined enough to review them all and maintain quality.  I'll give some thought as to how I can bring this resolution back on track.
  • Refresh the design of my blog - Done! Glad I could actually say I've accomplished one of my resolutions. Thanks to Nikki, I've updated the design template, and made some other small adjustments that mean I can say I've done it.
  • Be consistent sharing posts on social media - Another resolution that I've been a bit slack on. I will improve - honest.
 
Gaming Resolutions:
  • Complete wave 50 of Horde on Gears Of War 4 - I did give this a good go at the start of the year, but I noticed that the number of people playing Horde online dropped significantly and it was difficult trying to keep a team together beyond wave 20. If I'm honest, I don't think I'll achieve this resolution this year.
  • Complete to 100% 4 Xbox games - I have made some progress towards this resolution, even if a couple of games that I wanted to 100% have added new achievements to them. I've decided that I plan to complete Terraria (98%), Minecraft (98%), Lego Marvel Avengers (96%) & Lego Marvel Superheroes (60%) and I still think that it's achievable by the end of the year. 
  • Try out the Games On Gold that I download - I made a good start with this but I haven't been able to fit much of this in recently. There are four months left and I intend to try the games that come out when they're available.
  • Complete all The Simpsons Tapped Out events - This is another resolution that I've done well with. There have been 13 events completed with another one in progress, and for the vast majority of them I've unlocked all of the rewards available as part of them.
  • Capture all the original Pokémon on Pokémon Go - I decided to tweak this resolution to be capture all the first generation Pokémon available to me in Pokémon Go. In recent weeks this is a resolution that I have been confident that it will be completed. I started the year with 90 of the available 151, (although 8 weren't available at this point) and after the recent events, with the legendaries being available to battle and one of the regional Pokémon coming to major European cities I'm now only one away from completing this resolution. Only Hitmonlee to go, then I'll be left with Tauorus, Farfetch'd, Mewtoo, and possibly Mew to complete Gen 1.
 
Personal Resolutions:
  • Lose 21 pounds by the end of the year - I was getting my weight down, but a number of factors impacted my ability to try and shift some my excess pounds, mainly moving office and not really having access to cheap healthy food.
  • Go out once a month with the intentions to do photography - I've not been out as much as I'd like, both to take photographs or otherwise, but I have enjoyed going out with my new camera to explore all the different settings on it.
  • Attend some events - Again, I've been to a number of events, The Photography Show, The Shropshire Kids Festival and The Good Food Show/Gardens World Live, the NFL match between the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars but there are still more that I want to attend, in particular ComicCon.
  • Take better care of myself - On the whole, I'd say I have, but in recent weeks, perhaps I haven't, in part due to trying to time things right for our upcoming holiday. At the time of writing this, I need a haircut, but want to get it done before we leave next Friday, after that I should be good to continue with this resolution.
  • Watch more TV - I'm glad to say that I'm making progress on this resolution. I've watch much more TV, and I've really enjoyed catching up on 'Death In Paradise' and a few other programmes, mainly as a result of not playing on my console as much.
In truth, it looks like I'm going to miss a number of these resolutions, but I will achieve some of them which I should be proud of. Perhaps I've set myself too many targets this year, but I'll live and learn for next time!
 
 

Shrewsbury Town 2 - 0 Scunthorpe United | League One | 30/09/2017

Shrewsbury Town 2 - 0 Scunthorpe United | League One | 30/09/2017

Pre-match
In my absence Shrewsbury had continued their fine form and start to the season, taking 26 out of a possible 30 points. Scunthorpe United had risen to fifth in the league, having only conceded 3 goals in their opening 10 games. Having played some of the bigger clubs and returned with 4 points, this seemed to be another difficult match against a well organised team. I'd be happy with a draw to continue the unbeaten start and remain at the summit of League One.

Teams
Shrewsbury: Henderson; Bolton, Nsiala, Sadler, Brown; Whalley (C Morris 75), Ogogo, Godfrey, Nolan (Dodds 80), Rodman (John-Lewis 90+4); Payne
Substitutes: Beckles, Morris, Dodds, Gnahoua, John-Lewis, MacGillivray, Adams

Scunthorpe United: Gilks, Clarke, Wallace, McArdle, Butroid (Adelakun 84), Holmes (van Veen 51), Mantom, Bishop, Morris, Novak, Hopper (Madden 60)
Substitutes: Crofts, Ojo, Madden, van Veen, Adelakun, Burgess, Watson

First Half
Both teams seemed to be cancelling each other out at the start of the first half but on 24 minutes Bolton rose highest and planted a headed towards goal, despite the best efforts of the defence, Stefan Payne was on hand to get the ball over the line from a yard or two out. Shortly afterwards there was an appeal for a Shrewsbury penalty as Whalley darted into the box and had his heals clipped but the referee signalled for a goal kick - this seemed to typify the referee who was being assessed from the sidelines.

There was a flash point after 36 minutes, with John Nolan going in for a 50/50 tackle with a Scunthorpe player (which looked like a foul on him), but he then got up and slide into another tackle with his boots slightly raised. The referee quickly brandished a yellow card for the Shrewsbury man, but Neal Bishop got involved shoving Nolan in the back and taking a swipe at Payne. The referee, under advice from his assistant, produced another yellow, whereas on another day he could easily have sent the Scunthorpe player off. From this moment on, it was easy to tell when Bishop was on the ball as booing echoed around the Montgomery Waters Meadow.

Second Half
The second half saw Scunthorpe having more possession in Shrewsbury's half, however everything that sent towards the Shrewsbury goal, Manchester United loaned Dean Henderson got in the way of. A free kick was punched for a corner, then the corner was cleared by another big punch upfield.

A few minutes later, Junior Brown appeared to be unlawfully pushed off the ball which resulted in another pen appeal, again it wasn't given. Both teams made changes, but it was Shrewsbury's that had the biggest impact as Carlton Morris bagged himself a goal. Ogogo slid in to win the ball high up the pitch, falling to Morris who took on a defender, beating him before placing a left foot shot passed the goalkeeper.

Final Thoughts
2-0 possibly flattered Shrewsbury as Scunthorpe looked organised and it was easy to see why they had the best defence in the league, but it was nice to win a game by more than one goal. The match also saw Shrewsbury's unbeaten start to the season continue, and it's left me questioning just how far the team will go this year.

Man of the Match - Abu Ogogo
Again, Ogogo worked tirelessly for the team, harassing the opposition midfielders and not giving them any time on the ball. This was exemplified by the tackle that set Carlton Morris free to score his goal. Ogogo really appears to be benefitting from having a holding player sat in front of the back four, he now has license to get forward and even managed to have a shot at goal, something I don't remember happening during his time at Shrewsbury.