Steve Cotterill keen for Shrewsbury Town to focus right from the off

Aaron Wilbraham has highlighted the 'focus' Shrewsbury Town must require in tight contests as Steve Cotterill orders 'don't waste first halves'.

Steve Cotterill the head coach / manager of Shrewsbury Town. (AMA)
Steve Cotterill the head coach / manager of Shrewsbury Town. (AMA)

Town's game plan was executed perfectly against Plymouth on Easter Monday as the hosts emerged from a scrappy, nondescript first half to go for the jugular after the break and net three unanswered goals.

Assistant boss Wilbraham explained that tight, scrappy affairs are commonplace in League One and Cotterill's side are best suited to digging in to ensure they do not fall behind and give opponents something to cling on to – just as they did in the poor 1-0 defeat at Northampton on Good Friday last week.

Wilbraham revealed one of Cotterill's mantras to his players is to not 'waste first halves'.

And, if still in the contest after the break, Town can call upon one of their calling cards, their relentless energy levels, to punish opposition as they tire after the break.

"I think it was coming even after the first half," Wilbraham said of Shrewsbury's second-half blitz against the hapless Pilgrims as Town recorded their biggest league win of the season.

"It happens a lot in League One, even at Northampton, it was a scrappy game and we just needed to stay in it, but we didn't, we gave them something to hold on to.

"It's important to have that focus that we had in the first half on Monday, because eventually, with the way we work as a team, we'll grind teams down.

"Teams will crumble against us if we keep that work rate up, and that happened, no disrespect to Plymouth.

"If we keep that work rate and focus as a team then the goals will come, that's why it's important when the manager always says not to waste first halves in games, and we didn't.

"We went in the right direction and the goals came from it."

Eight of Shrewsbury's 11 league wins this season prior to Monday had been by just a one-goal margin, best surmised by the excellent 1-0 victories on the road at three of the league's top four under Cotterill just before Christmas, which proved the leg work in easing their relegation concerns.

But Monday's rampant second half can boost Town players' confidence in their ability in beating teams handily, also doing so without recent goal hero Harry Chapman. The Blackburn loanee remained an unused substitute as his side romped to victory.

The win, and a first clean sheet in six games, took Shrewsbury's goal difference to plus one and into positives for the first time this season.

Wilbraham added: "The players can always learn from experiences of different types of games and take it forward.

"I think the focus the lads had since the Northampton defeat was evident, in training and in the changing room before Plymouth, they were quiet but I could see a hunger in their eyes to put things right and they did, fair play to them."

Goal hero Shaun Whalley – who may have to make do with just a single strike after his contentious opener was awarded a Will Aimson own goal – admitted the handsome win provides Shrews with confidence ahead of Saturday lengthy trip down to Kent to face Gillingham.

Shrewsbury will make the journey – the best part of four hours via a coach – on Friday and stay overnight to help ease the burden of a long trip on the players.

Steve Evans' side had their play-off aspirations take a severe hit with a damaging 4-1 hammering at rivals Blackpool on Monday and could be a wounded animal.

Whalley said: "It's going to make us more confident for the next game, which is obviously tough away to Gillingham.

"But there's no reason why we can't go there, after Monday, and get the three points there as well, which is what we want."

Most Read

Most Read

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News