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Analysis: One of Steve Cotterill's best yet as boss marks one year in Shrewsbury job

Well, that was certainly some way for the manager to mark his one-year anniversary in charge.

Steve Cotterill celebrated Shrewsbury’s last-gasp victory over in-form Charlton Athletic with some gusto, as well he might.

The win was a vital one in the context of the League One table, lifting Town up two places to 19th and out of the drop zone – some welcome fruits for their recent labour.

Daniel Udoh’s late, late heroics to snatch all three points against the Addicks is certainly near the top for dramatic occasions under Cotterill’s 365 days and 60 games in charge.

Of his 20 Town wins, none have arrived as late. Few, if any, have led to such an atmospheric response in the stands.

There is no getting away from the identity of the match-winner, either. Udoh is unquestionably rapidly becoming a firm modern-day Shrewsbury favourite.

All his performances had previously missed were the clinical touch to add goals. Now he is on a personal best run in Town colours, three in three games in a week. He will join Salop’s 100 club in his next appearance and, while born more than 4,500 miles away in Lagos, Nigeria, the ex-AFC Telford hitman feels very much like an adopted Salopian.

The manner of his winner, three minutes into four added on, warmed the souls of everybody of a Shrewsbury persuasion on a bitingly cold Storm Arwen-hit afternoon at Montgomery Waters Meadow. The weather was so bone-chilling it had supporters questioning whether or not it was the coldest the Oteley Road stadium had ever seen.

Like Udoh’s rasping equaliser for the 10 men of Town against Sunderland last Tuesday, the celebrations at the front of the South Stand were quite something.

Above all of the euphoric scenes and the memorable celebrations, were three crucial points – and not to mention just a second clean sheet in 25 games this season to boot.

Josh Vela ran the midfield as he steps up his injury comeback while George Nurse once again played like a Rolls Royce in the defence.

There can be no doubting Town’s performances, certainly in the league, have turned a corner over the last half-a-dozen or so games.

But points make prizes, as the old saying goes, and in football you move nowhere fast without winning games, so getting over the line with a victory makes a huge difference to the outlook of Town’s season.

A goalless draw, given the manner of a competitive game in which the hosts more than played their part against visitors flying in form and confidence, is a good point on the face of it. But step back and it would have been another league game without victory for Cotterill’s men.

Shrewsbury played well in a difficult period given their unavailability, no doubt about that, but just a point would have done little to move them up the standings above the line that separates the bottom four.

At 0-0 at half-time, with rivals Fleetwood winning elsewhere, Town had dropped a place to 22nd, despite starting the game well against Johnnie Jackson’s south-east Londoners.

By full-time, just moments after Udoh’s heroics, the home side had lifted two places to 19th. Sure, just two points above the dotted line, but psychologically that can be some difference.

Addicks interim chief Jackson felt a foul could have been given in the goal’s build-up, but the challenge appeared 50-50.

The Town chief is right to stress how his side have turned a corner in recent times, but that becomes a tougher sell to concerned supporters when the team is not winning games and while the side is beached in the bottom four.

There were glorious scenes around the Meadow pitch as Town players strolled about lapping up the kudos from the fans at full-time.

Nathanael Ogbeta urged the fans to lift the volume levels further still, Luke Leahy punched the air on numerous occasions, all moments after Cotterill had given it a very meaningful fist-pump to the Main Stand behind his dugout at the referee’s whistle.

What is certainly becoming ever-clearer is, after exactly a year in charge, Cotterill’s bid to foster a real spirit, character and togetherness in his ranks is beginning to come good.

Not so long ago the manager and his players were linking arms in a German football-inspired salute to the crowd in pre-season and the early weeks of the campaign.

That goodwill seeped away somewhat after a very challenging start when positive results were shortcoming. There are signs, after an extremely encouraging return home this week with four points taken from clashes against Sunderland and Charlton, that the relationship could be returning.

It almost feel as though Town, in such a difficult position personnel-wise without several key players, have created a siege mentality at a time of weakness.

Depth concerns absolutely remain but, for now, Town are answering what is thrown at them – that is five wins from 10 home league games and four from six.

Away woes remain and need addressing, but this significant win backs up the recent progress and was the most perfect of anniversary gifts.

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