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Analysis: Paul Hurst delighted with Shrewsbury Town improvement

By Lewis Cox | Shrewsbury Town FC | Published: | Last Updated:

Pre-season results should be taken with a pinch of salt and, win or lose, it's important not to get too up or down.

Celebrating Zak Jules’ opener

Nonetheless, Shrewsbury boss Paul Hurst demanded an improvement from his side following last Tuesday's lacklustre reversal at non-league Brackley Town.

And when Championship Aston Villa arrived in front of more than 5,000 fans in the stands, new-look Town turned it on and gave plenty of encouraging signs.

A 2-1 victory, courtesy of late goals from new boys Zak Jules and Arthur Gnahoua leaving Henri Lansbury's last minute spot-kick inconsequential, meant everyone leaving the Montgomery Waters Meadow of a blue and amber persuasion did so with a spring in their step.

"I knew we'd get a better performance no matter the result but it was in terms of concentration levels, focus, energy, desire," said Town chief Hurst.

"I hope I'm not talking throughout the season where it's one week we're this and one week we're something totally different.

"Overall I was very pleased with the players, the application and some quality along the way."

Villa, buoyed by a debut for former England skipper John Terry, arrived for their toughest test of pre-season so far following wins over AFC Telford United and Kidderminster Harriers.

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But Town sported a rigid 4-4-2 set-up with five new signings in their starting line-up, while fresh academy find Cypriot Christos Shelis filled in at right-back.

The hosts quickly got about disrupting an off-key Villa's rhythm and despite the visitors boasting seven full internationals in their starting XI, Town every bit matched Bruce's side.

The sides went in goalless at the break. Though Jon Nolan and Louis Dodds had the game's best openings for Shrewsbury.

Manchester United loanee Dean Henderson, handed the No.1 shirt, caught the eye as he came to successfully claim every high ball.

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While young Norwich forward Carlton Morris more than occupied Terry at the other end.

The substitutes, who arrived on the hour, played a big part. Lenell John-Lewis and Gnahoua in particular were busy.

And as the game entered its final 15 minutes the subs took hold, first Jules, signed from Reading, craning his neck muscles to send Bryn Morris' corner into the bottom corner.

Four minutes later ex-Kidderminster man Gnahoua capped his lively cameo with what Town supporters hope is a nod to the future. He jinked inside two or three challenges before composing himself and finding the bottom from the edge of the area.

Lewis Cox

By Lewis Cox
Trainee Multi-Media Sports Journalist - @lewiscox_star

Sports reporter with the Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Covering Shrewsbury Town and with a keen eye for non-league and grassroots.

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