After the crucial three points in Boxing Day, the Lads followed that potential after Lord Mayor's Show (whatever that is) with an actual after the Lord Mayor's Show. While the visitors were seen wasting time between their coach and the dressing room, and continued in that fashion for 95 minutes, we need to beat that sort of thing, and a point did little more than show we're tough to beat. Need to do better than that, though.
With Wyke and Watmore back, we now have four full-on forwards ready to rumble, giving Ross the Boss starting and tactical substitution options. Honeyman's ankle? Who knows, but we have other options there, and now also at right back, where Luke "enthusiastic" O'Nien has proved a revelation. The mags I shared a table with at yesterday's wedding in deepest, darkest Northumberland - congratulations, Nikki and Ben - actually knew their football, commented sensibly on our prospects, and one moaned that he was the only one left in his row towards the end of a recent home game. We can see you sneaking out…
O’Nien Flanagan Baldwin Oviedo
Gooch Maguire McGeady
After a minute's silence, impeccably observed by both sets (Liam Miller, for goodness sake) we were off kicking south, and with Mather in the box behind us, we conceded a questionable free very early....and then a corner, thanks to a couple of dodgy touches by O’Nien as he found his feet. Gooch's crossfield ball to Maja ended with a tackle in the box to rob him, and we needed Power to win it on halfway to prevent an attack.
Maguire curled one just wide from the left on 10, then it quietened down a bit before we built down the left, but it came to nothing.
The 28th minute saw some great play down the left but Gooch lost his balance when he received the cross and it was cleared. Still showing patience but not quite getting there. A dodgy free against O’Nien, as their man flung himself across ours, was slung in and glanced home on the half hour. Ironic, after our best little spell so far.
There was a yellow for time wasting - on 33, which summed the visitors up, really - then another for a foul on Maja, but not for punching the ball away afterwards. Ha'way man ref, it's easy to spot.
We won a corner on the right after McGeady's cross was knocked behind, and Flanagan's shot on the turn flew right across the area and along the line for a throw. Another yellow to Shrewsbury for another foul in 42 helped break up another attack, halting the flow of the game. McGeady then let the ball run down the left, Oviedo whipped in a cross, and Maja got the vital touch. 1-1. He's rubbish, all he does is score, and with two to go before the break, the added four (timewasting Shrews) were welcomed with roars.
We got to the break level, and on chances that was probably fair. We hadn't played well, having let them get a straightforward goal, but had lots of pressure without creating enough chances - but still having lots of the ball, which boded well for the second half - but we really needed to have Power rather than Baldwin or Flanagan making the long passes. Should Ross make changes, with Wyke and Watmore ready to rumble (see above) or give Maguire more time to make an impression? Jack's job, not mine, thankfully.
No changes, as it turned out. Three minutes in the Shrews spurned a decent headed chance, nodding it tamely to McLaughlin, while Oviedo, who'd fallen heavily a few minutes earlier, limped off to be replaced by James.
On 53, Wyke replaced Maguire, and our number 7 can have no complaints, as he'd struggled to make an impact.
On 58 there was a yellow Catts for a foul, and they got a fair amount of the ball, but the chances they created, they didn't take. Wyke chased a ball down on the right and won a corner that Power headed back and wide. Damn.
Gooch made way for Watmore on 66 after a great period of pressure, probably our best of the game. Lynden probably paid the price for getting the ball stuck under his feet too often - certainly not for lack of effort.
On 81 there was a yellow Baldwin after more pressing from us and he felt the need to flatten their man to stop an attack.
On 86 Watmore burst onto a cleared corner and ran down the left but was fouled - another yellow- as they took ten minutes to make their last substitution. Ha'way man ref, me bus goes at six. More time wasted as one of them laid down with "cramp". Five added minutes were announced, we hosted everything at them, and Power blazed over. The quote of the day came from the old lad along from me.... "where have they gettn five minutes from?" What game had he been watching?
A James cross was cleared from under bar, gaining us a corner on the right. McGeady at played it back to Baldwin, shot wide.... Wyke won header and the subsequent chase, but James blazed over from the eventual cross, and that was it. Frantic.
With Luton and Portsmouth going against adversity and getting point(s) it wasn't a good result for us, but at least we didn't lose.
That's me being positive. Me being negative is that we should be big enough and clever enough to beat a team who had to leave Shrewsbury on Wednesday night to get here as they wasted so much time on the journey. Not a great side, but far from a really good one that we should be able to outthink.
Man of the Match? If Watmore had been given more time, he'd probably have earned it, but I might give it to O'Nien as the pick of the defenders... but I won't. Watmore it is, for being a pest down both flanks.
Must do better, but not the end of the world