Shrewsbury Town comment: No more excuses – it’s time for results
Line in the sand time. Shrewsbury’s FA Cup journey is over. Now it’s time to focus on one thing only.
Performances, but more so results, have to come in League One before Town find themselves in serious trouble.
Distractions and excuses of cup competitions getting in the way are no longer a way out for Sam Ricketts’ side.
For Town, as captain Mat Sadler put it after last Saturday’s poor home defeat to Luton, it is wake up and smell the coffee time.
There is no doubt that Shrewsbury are now wary of their situation. Having dropped to 23rd, they are no longer managing to keep their heads above the surface by treading water after the run of one win in 10.
Wolves was a superb occasion on Tuesday and Town were unlucky with the winning goal, which should have been ruled out. On another day it could have gone Shrewsbury’s way. They did themselves proud over 180 minutes.
But it is time to take that into the league. No more saying they need to do it, time for action.
It is fairly likely that, had Salop progressed in the FA Cup, it would have distracted from League One survival priorities. Unintentionally, maybe, but it’s human nature with such occasions on the horizon.
Ricketts has, quite regularly in recent weeks, rightly suggested that his side have been overworked. In 64 days since his first game in charge at Burton, Town have played 15 matches in all competitions.
For the most part they have used the same 13 or 14 players. It’s not an excuse, but it’s a factor in some poor league displays. Cup replays have really harmed Town, while they suffered at Bradford four days after the highs of slugging it out with Wolves.
As well as matches coming at a regular pace of knots, they mean extra recovery and preparation days, leaving very little room for coaching, working on shape and methods.
That is a match every four days. Beginning today, however, Town have the luxury of three league games on consecutive Saturdays, with no midweek fixture to test their fitness.
As well as meaning extra rest, the squad – for the first time under Ricketts – have sufficient time to train and gel at Sundorne. It is the first time in his two months at Shrewsbury that the manager has back-to-back weeks to train his team.
If Town have drawn a line in the sand after their cup exits, then another factor is a new-look squad.
Ten players arrived in January. Minus Wrexham loanee Brad Walker, back-up keeper Reice Charles-Cook and the injured Romain Vincelot, all will be required.
It isn’t an easy task to bed that number of players in, particularly after a hectic mid-season transfer window, and Ricketts admitted training sessions have been disjointed with some players involved in cup competitions and others not.
That is now another excuse that flies out the window. Town must face up to what lies in front of them – fixtures that can save their season.
They are not yet in deep trouble, owing to the compact nature of the bottom of League One. A win at Bristol Rovers could conceivably lift them as high as 18th and the picture differs.
But Shrewsbury must address their away woes – a key factor in this season’s struggles. One win away this season came at the only side below Town. A lot of key fixtures against teams around them are on the road.
But there can no more excuses from Shrewsbury. Ricketts’ new-look side must prove they can handle the fight and have the ability – and belief – to get the results required to ease the very real fears of supporters.