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Wigan v Shrewsbury: Away struggles a result of style changes, feels boss

Shrewsbury boss Steve Cotterill feels a change in style has affected his team’s form away from home this season.

Town return to League One action on the road this evening with a trip to second-placed promotion contenders Wigan, with a clash at struggling Doncaster on the horizon on Saturday.

While much of Shrewsbury’s recent improvements over the last couple of months have come at Montgomery Waters Meadow – they sit 12th in the home form table with five wins from 10 in the league – they remain winless in nine league away games, albeit have won twice on the road in the FA Cup.

Town have collected just two points on their travels in draws at Sheffield Wednesday and Lincoln City.

That run comes in contrast to when Cotterill took over the club a year ago, at the beginning in which he led a defensive Town to memorable counter-attacking victory at three of the top four at the time.

“We want to get a few more positive results in the league,” Cotterill said ahead of the trip to the DW Stadium. “The (FA) Cup will take care of itself whenever it comes along, but obviously in the league we want to get some points on the board away from home,

“We’ve done very well at home but away from home it hasn’t been lucky for us this year.”

The boss said over the summer he was keen to develop Town’s playing style away from being a defensive ‘low block’ side.

But early struggles this season, where goals and clean sheets were a rarity, meant Shrews, as the boss admits, were forced to revert to what they knew in order to be more compact.

Cotterill, whose side have lost just once in seven in league and FA Cup action, feels that a more adventurous squad and style is a factor in his side’s struggles on the road in the league.

“It’s a different team to last year. Last year’s team was built to sit up in that low block,” he said. “But then eventually you end up flogging your strikers in that system. It’s a means to an end.

“When you open up and want to be a bit more attacking, like we do this season, you then expose the defenders to a little bit more one-on-one defending, but it’s all part of the transition.

“Because you can’t keep winning like we won last season sitting in that block.

“It is a coincidence that because we’re not doing that this season that Dan Udoh is having a better season than last season as a striker?

“Dan has scored more goals already this season than last year. Because we’re more attacking you’re going to concede more.”

Cotterill added: “And what hasn’t been mentioned, this league is getting strong, with bigger clubs, and when you go away to bigger stadium the referees sometimes buckle under crowd pressure.

“There wasn’t that last year, that build-up and crescendo that can influence a referee one way or another. I think that’s another factor.”

Leam Richardson’s hosts Wigan, meanwhile, are set to include some familiar attackers in their frontline against Town this evening.

Former Shrewsbury loanees Callum Lang and Stephen Humphrys, who both caught the eyes in spells at the Meadow, are likely to start. They could be supported by Will Keane, the striker who was on Town’s radar in the summer.

They will be operating without lead striker Charlie Wyke. The former Sunderland frontman collapsed in training a couple of weeks ago and revealed last week the quick-thinking resuscitation actions of boss Richardson and club doctor Jonathan Tobin saved his life.

Cotterill offered his best wishes to the recovering Wyke, who turned 29 this week.

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