Mean Shrewsbury out to repel Blackburn threat
Determined boss Paul Hurst is confident that his watertight Shrewsbury side can continue grinding out results in their bid to stay at the top.
Town face one of the toughest tests of their promotion credentials to date as they head to rivals Blackburn Rovers tomorrow.
The clash pits second against third. An away victory could see Town open up an eight-point gap to third in the hunt for automatic promotion.
Thirteen of Town’s 16 League One wins this season have been by the odd goal. Hurst’s dominant defence is the second-meanest in the league behind leaders Wigan, shipping just 15 in 25 games.
Neutrals have, for some time, suggested that 1-0 victories can only get Shrewsbury so far before they get found out, but the boss disagrees.
Hurst said: “All this talk of promotion, the Championship and getting over the line is miles away as far as I’m concerned.
“In terms of it getting us results then yes, why not?
“I’ve said all along that we’d love to score more goals, of course we would. But it’s been successful for us so far.”
“We’re only starting to even think about it because we’ve got to a point where we need something to look at.
“We’re winning games, we’re keeping clean sheets, what can we do? Perhaps score more goals.”
Tomorrow’s hosts Blackburn, unbeaten in 14 league games – one away from Town’s effort of 15 at the beginning of the season – have scored 12 goals more than Shrewsbury this season, yet are five points inferior.
With 33 goals scored, second-placed Town are the joint-12th highest scorers in the league this season. Tony Mowbray’s Rovers are ranked second.
“I get that,” the boss added.
“I’d love to stand on the side where we score three or four, keep a clean sheet and it’s an easier afternoon for everyone watching.
“But I’m not too concerned with it, even against Blackpool we certainly had enough chances.
“The goals, I’m sure, will come when we need them.”
Fourteen points currently separates Shrewsbury and seventh place, a healthy play-off cushion.
In the 14-year history of the current Football League format, 57 goals scored is the least to secure a top two finish, achieved by Burton in 2015/16.
Bradford and Yeovil’s tallies of 55 goals are the least it has taken to secure a top six – play-off – position in the current format.
Hurst said: “I get why people would think we won’t carry on (getting) the results. But if you’ve got a solid foundation to build on, then it’s very rare you don’t get at least one chance in a game.
“Overall we’ve had chances, sometimes it’s not been loads. It’s amazing how many teams score two from three or four shots.
“We seem to have loads and score one or none. You’ll always get a chance and we’ll continue to work at scoring more.
“At the same time I believe we’re creating chances and we’re winning a lot of games.
“If it’s 0-0 we take a point. It’s not the worst result.”
Hurst, who has no fresh fitness concerns ahead of tomorrow’s trip, will not be getting carried away should Town increase the gap to eight points. “It doesn’t feel big for me,” said the boss.
“Eight points can be turned round in six or seven games, admittedly form would have to change.
“It could easily happen in this division. We’ve been on the right side of a lot of games and it wouldn’t take much for it to go the other way.
“I’d be delighted for it come 5pm tomorrow but we wouldn’t be thinking ‘that’s it’ – far from it.”