Whatever happens this afternoon, it's got to be better than getting beat at home by Mansfield in Round One. It's all a pleasant diversion from the Championship but of course I want us to win every game and cup matches also give us a chance to see some of the squad players and give the regulars a rest.
Speaking of which, I'm really hoping that we'll see young Rigg play a part in today's game. He looks a real talent on the videos I've seen. I don't know if we'll allow Winchester to play for Shrewsbury but apparently that's a possibility. As for another current topic, I'm still hoping that we'll get Simms or Broadhead back before the end of the month and at least Simms has had a bit of a run out with Everton during the week so that should help them decide what they're going to do with him. Many people don't rate Broadhead and fair enough, his injury record isn't too hot but I think he'd be a great asset to our squad. Anyway, I'll be listening to the match online this afternoon and I reckon we'll win it 2-1.
I couldn't get hold of the team-news till nearly 2.30 but then I saw that we were fielding a strong side with Bass and Bennette getting a start. Rigg and Gooch were among the subs along with Stewart, Clarke, Patterson and a few names I didn't know. Winchester wasn't going to be involved.
I tuned into SAFSEE and heard that it hadn't started raining yet, though it looked likely soon, and that we had sixteen hundred fans there. Shrewsbury started brightly and did all of the early pressing with Shipley in left midfield getting a lot of mentions. We were lucky to escape in the fifth minute when Amad was robbed and they went on to hit the bar. Shrewsbury won the first corner five minutes later and Mowbray had his head in his hands at us giving the ball away so much. Apart from a shot from Michut that was straight at Marosi in goal we didn't produce any threat in the opening quarter hour. Next thing, a great cross from Bennette found Roberts but his bobbling shot was cleared. We'd started pressing forward more at any rate. As commentator Benno shouted for a clear penalty, instead referee Scott Oldham (BBC Sport said it was Matt Donohue) gave Roberts a yellow for diving and Shrewsbury a free-kick.
Bass saved a volley from Phillips and the game was flowing from end to end. I'd heard very little noise from either set of fans yet. We won our first corner on the half-hour when a pacey run and cross from Bennette was met by Hume and turned out by Marosi. We took it short and it was cleared eventually. Bass was showing a safe pair of hands but we were still giving away the ball too much and giving them chances. We won a second corner though I was starting to wonder whether it was worth taking as we never score from them. It did bring another corner... As half-time approached we were moving the ball forward well but we lacked a killer touch when we got to their box. A low Roberts shot went just wide of the post and after a minute of stoppage-time it remained 0-0. Barnes and Benno had meanwhile had a look at the replay of that penalty incident and was sure we'd been robbed.
As we kicked off again the rain had started pouring down. Shrewsbury had replaced O'Brien with Bloxham and it was only then that I realised that O'Brien was the O'Brien who'd recently played for us. Anyway, we started a lot brighter this half with Amad getting in the thick of things and it was all us for the first ten minutes or so. Clarke and Stewart had started warming up and we definitely didn't want a replay. Not long afterwards both Clarke and Stewart came on, replacing Bennette and Ba, as predicted by Benno. With half an hour left I felt we could definitely nick it as we'd had a lot more goal attempts in the second-half so far than we'd had in the whole of the first. A fierce Amad shot was spilled by Marosi but nobody was there to follow up.
Fifteen minutes to go and still the threat of a replay loomed but it sounded like Shrewsbury were on the ropes as we piled on the pressure. However, with ten minutes left Shrewsbury won a corner and when it came over Pennington headed it into the corner to give them the lead. We promptly brought on Rigg for Michut and it was now or never if we wanted a result. We were going for it but Shrewsbury had gained courage and were dangerous on the counter-attack. We won our seventh corner with three minutes left and it led directly to our eighth but nothing came of it. Shrewsbury were defending with gusto but in the middle of four minutes of stoppage-time we got the equaliser when Stewart nodded home. We continued to press for the winner and it was looking like we were bound for a replay on 17th January but right at the very end O'Nien drove a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner and somehow we'd won the tie.
Shrewsbury battled well and despite a mediocre start, we had a never-say-die attitude that paid off in dramatic style.