Shrewsbury Town 0 - 1 Rotherham United | League One | 17/02/2018


Pre-match
Mid-week, Shrewsbury had returned to the summit of League One with victory over Fleetwood Town, but they return to the Montgomery Waters Meadow to face in-form Rotherham United. Rotherham arrived having won there last five games and were unbeaten in eleven.

Shrewsbury started the game with a very familiar line-up continuing the consistent team that has been selected for most of the season. Jon Taylor was the only recognisable name on the Rotherham team sheet, but he only made it on to the bench.

Teams
Shrewsbury: 
HendersonBolton, Nsiala, Sadler, Beckles; Godfrey; Whalley, Ogogo, Nolan (Payne 68), Thomas (Rodman 84); C Morris (John-Lewis 74)

Subs: MacGillivray, Lowe, John-Lewis, B Morris, Hendrie, Rodman, Payne

Rotherham United: Rodák, Emmanuel, Ajayi, Wood, Ihiekwe, Forde (R Williams 63), Towell, Ball (Laveryat 75), Vaulks, Newell (Palmer 90+2), Smith
Sub: Palmer, Taylor, Price, Yates, R Williams, Cummings, Lavery

First Half
Rotherham's first attack stemmed from a long free kick up the pitch being recycled and flicked on to one of their players who drilled his low shot just wide. They then had two good chances in quick succession, again from a lofted pass out from the back along the left wing found a Rotherham player who jinked passed two Shrewsbury player before unleashing a shot that Dean Henderson clawed away, but only to another Rotherham player. He reacted to the chance, but failed to make any meaningful contact with the ball and Mat Sadler could easily clear the ball.

In a rare Shrewsbury attack, Carlton Morris flicked the ball on to Shaun Whalley who drove towards goal leaving the defence in his wake, as the Rotherham defence had been caught high up the pitch. The goalkeeper came off his line quickly and smothered Whalley's shot.

Rotherham kept on the pressure on and their next chance came from a corner.  As the ball came across, Henderson came to punch the ball but an attacker beat him to the ball and glance his header just wide.

They got the goal their play (probably) deserved on the next attack, again the ball was swung over from a corner as Shrewsbury cleared the ball it ended up back with the corner taker. His returned the ball into the box towards the far post, again Henderson came for the cross and failed to get to the ball, with at least two Shrewsbury players between his and the ball. A Rotherham player nodded the cross back into the six yard box and another was on hand to turn the ball home into the unprotected net, 0-1 to Rotherham.

Second Half
Shrewsbury had the first chance of the second half as Jon Nolan chested the ball forwards but a Rotherham defender headed the ball straight to Abu Ogogo. He pushed towards the centre of the box and unleashed a left footed shot, but it was comfortably saved by the Rotherham goalkeeper.

They also had the next chance, with a John-Lewis playing a pass into the box, which Omar Beckles (don't ask me why he was in the centre forward position) flicked the ball to Nathan Thomas, but his first time shot was blocked by the Rotherham goalie.

Final Thoughts
On the balance of play, Rotherham probably shaded the match and so could claim they deserved their victory. However, Shrewsbury were always in the tie and it could be argued had the better chances through Whalley and Thomas.

The game was in no ways a classic and the performance of the referee was integral to this. He picked up every slight knock and gave free kicks which played in to the match strategy of Rotherham, who made the most of the referee's generosity.  Every free kick they took would be a long ball into the box and then they would play for the second ball, playing off scraps. I would add that Shrewsbury looked panicked when clearing the ball and invariably the ball would be cleared to touch. This played into the second part of Rotherham's plan, which was to launch throw-ins into the box, just like the free kicks.

The Shrewsbury fans were in fine voice, getting behind the team, but there was a nervousness in the team which may have permeated from Henderson's rashness. On numerous occasions he came for crosses and got no where near them.  The team also seemed to be too engaged in playing head tennis rather than get the ball down and play on the deck, which all helped Rotherham's cause. Rotherham's game plan worked, but I can't help but feel with a bit more composure Shrewsbury could have countered Rotherham's play.

Man of the Match - Carlton Morris
At the end of the match I was struggling to pick my man of the match as no one stood out, in a bad way.  Earlier in the season I had plenty of players that were in the recognition, but today was forgettable for most of the team. It was probably between James Bolton, Abu Ogogo and Carlton Morris, but Morris possibly deserved it most as he worked hard and battled the Rotherham defenders for the scraps he was made to play off. He was also involved in creating the best chances when they came Shrewsbury's way.

I could critique each player, but it was a difficult match, against difficult opposition, made worse by a difficult referee.


Shrewsbury Town 1 - 2 Plymouth Argyle | League One | 10/02/2018


Pre-match
Shrewsbury came into the game on the back of two impressive away victories against Portsmouth and Bristol Rovers, but Plymouth were also on a good run losing just once in twelve games.


With Dean Henderson missing from the team through suspension, MacGillivray continued to deputise in a familiar looking team selection. Nathan Thomas made his home debut starting on the right wing.

Plymouth's team contained Anthony Sarcevic, would had played for Shrewsbury two seasons ago before being allowed to leave part way through his contract. Also in the Plymouth squad was ex-fan favourite at Town, Lionel Ainsworth who had a place on the substitutes bench.

Teams
Shrewsbury: 
MacGillivrayBolton, Nsiala, Sadler, Lowe; Godfrey (Payne 68); Thomas, Ogogo, Nolan, Rodman (Whalley 67); C Morris (John-Lewis 68)
Subs: Beckles, Whalley, John-Lewis, B Morris, Eisa, Rowley, Payne

Plymouth Argyle: Matthews, Threlkeld, Vyner, Bradley, Sawyer, Sarcevic, Fox (Songo'o 69), Ness, Lameiras (Ainsworth 77), Taylor, Carey
Sub: Songo'o, Ainsworth, Church, Makasi, Grant, Taylor-Sinclair, Letheren

First Half
Shrewsbury took the lead after 6 minutes through Carlton Morris. Jon Nolan burst through the centre circle before playing the ball to Alex Rodman, who in turn slipped in Max Lowe on the left hand side of the penalty area. His first time cross got deflected into the path of Morris, who turned the ball home from about 4 yards.

This goal spurred Plymouth into life, a central free-kick was struck just wide of Craig MacGillivray's post, before the first contentious decision by the referee. Ex-Shrewsbury man Anthony Sarcevic got played into the box and appeared to tumble over the ball, however the referee saw a foul and awarded Plymouth a penalty. MacGillivray guessed which way the Plymouth man would put the ball correctly and saved the shot.

A few minutes later, a long ball by the Plymouth goalkeeper was flicked on and next thing you see is a Plymouth player running clear of the defence to slip the ball under MacGillivray to make it 1-1.

Second Half
Plymouth had grown into the game and were starting to dominate the match.  They took the lead but
 this wasn't without controversy. Plymouth took a quick corner, but the ball went straight out for what looked like a Shrewsbury throw in, but the referee told them to retake the corner, suggesting the ball was moving when taken. It should have been a thrown in to Shrewsbury, but instead Plymouth were able to swing in a corner which was flicked on at the near post before being bundled over the line at the near post.

Nathan Thomas almost restored parity from the kick off, with Rodman crossing from the left and Thomas meeting it with his head, but the Plymouth goalkeeper was equal to it before saving the rebound too.

Shrewsbury continued to look for an equaliser, but shots from Ogogo and Payne lacked conviction and the goalkeeper saved both comfortably.

Final Thoughts
Plymouth deserved their win, after conceding the early goal, they dominated the game, Shrewsbury struggled to get out of their own half and even a triple substitution and a change in formation didn't really affect how the game played out.

If I were bitter man, I'd say that the referee and his assistants had conspired to let Plymouth win, but in truth Plymouth out Shrewsbury'ed Shrewsbury and deserved their win. They looked to be a very physical side and won most 50:50 balls, their striker won most balls in the air which allowed them to build their attacks much further up the pitch than Shrewsbury and they pressed high up the pitch, not giving Shrewsbury players time on the ball.

Man of the Match - Carlton Morris
It was a game were there were few bright moments, but Morris was in the right place at the right time for his goal and looked to be full of running as per usual before making way as part of the triple substitution.

What I've Been Up To January 2018



Last year I paused my weekly updates post, but this year I'm looking to do a monthly round up of all the things that happen to me and what I get up to.


Each month I'll look back at where I've been, what I've been up to and what I've watched. On those days that not much has happened, I've removed the days.

January 2018

1st - On New Years Day we went for a walk around Attingham Park with Nikki's
 family.
3rd - I spent the day with my dad driving around south Shropshire, looking for inspiration for somewhere to take photographs.  Unfortunately, the weather was overcast and grim, so I hardly took any photos but I did play about with lighting my lunch, a BLT at The Happy Bap.
4th - After nearly a fortnight off, it was back to work but there was no easing back into it as I was asked to get things ready for a team event the following week.
5th - I watched 'Logan' [2017] for the first time.
6th - Like a child at Christmas, I was excited for what was to come and I couldn't sleep, so I watched 'Baby Driver' [2017] until the early hours.
7th - I went to the Montgomery Waters Meadow to watch Shrewsbury Town play West Ham United (0-0) in the third round of the FA Cup - My thoughts on the match can be read here.
9th - I drove up to Newcastle in preparation for a team meeting. The journey was good and we had a productive afternoon in a pre-meeting. I checked into my hotel (Caledonian Hotel in Jesmond) before talking some colleagues into joining me for a burger at Fat Hippo. I had deep fried gherkins (Lightly battered on a bed of shredded lettuce. With garlic mayo) followed by a Candy Man Burger (Double 4oz patties, topped with cheese, candied bacon and onion jam), all washed down by a Fat Hippo IPA. Whenever I go there I like to try a different burger, but I'll definitely go back for a Candy Man in the future. After dining, we retired back to the hotel bar, catching some of the Manchester City vs Bristol City match, and then going our separate ways to our rooms.
10th - An early start to get to the office for our team meeting before leaving at 15:30 and getting back on the road to return home.
12th - Back to Newcastle, this time for an interview. I'd been stressed about it, so I was glad when it was all over, but I forgot lots of things that I'd hoped to bring up. In all honesty, spending the day travelling for four and a half hours for an hours interview was hard and not something I plan to do again, but being away for one night was difficult enough and I didn't want to leave my son again for a second time in a week.
13th - Breakfast with my son at Palmer's of Shrewsbury whilst Nikki got her nails done, followed by a walk around the town park and some time in the playground. We visited Telford so Nikki could buy herself a Tamagotchi from Smyth's and then grabbed a McDonalds for lunch before heading home to watch films.
14th - Sunday lunch with Nikki's parents and then spent the afternoon watching Bournemouth vs Arsenal (2-1) & Liverpool vs Manchester City (4-3).
15th - Back to five-a-side for the first time in almost a month. I got two special goals which left me feeling good about myself. The first was my trademark shot off the wall, the second I dragged the ball back and back healed it past the goalkeeper.
17th - I finished early and made the most of it by starting to watch ‘Pulp Fiction’ [1994].
19th - Despite flagging somewhat before dinner, my son came to life afterwards as we spent time with my parents, auntie and uncle.
20th - Started the day by watching 'Olaf's Frozen Adventure' [2017], then 'Wreck It Ralph' [2012] before heading to the Montgomery Waters Meadow to watch Shrewsbury Town play Doncaster Rovers (2-2).
21st - We spent the day at home, watching films and just relaxing.
22nd - I started 'My #H2Only Challenge', the first day of 10 where I'll only be drinking water. With my son being very poorly, I skipped football as he just wanted to lie on my lap and fall asleep.
23rd - Having looked after him for the day, my son lovingly passed on a bug to me, which meant I missed the Shrewsbury Town match against Oldham Athletic in the EFL Throphy.
24th - The illness took it's toll on me and I spent the day in bed, sleeping for the vast majority of it.  This set the pattern for the next couple of days.
29th - Although still not well, I returned to work.