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Oxford v Shrewsbury - Match preview

Shrewsbury head to Oxford on Saturday looking to make it five league wins on the spin for the first time in more than eight years.

Ryan Bowman of Shrewsbury Town celebrates winning the game at full time (AMA)
Ryan Bowman of Shrewsbury Town celebrates winning the game at full time (AMA)

The last time Town were victorious five times on the bounce in league action was back in 2014, when they eventually went on to win six – beating Cheltenham, York, Bury, Portsmouth, Dagenham & Redbridge and Mansfield.

And now Steve Cotterill’s men are in sensational form, scoring 12 goals and conceding twice in the last four league games, which has seen them go from 17th to ninth.

They hammered both Burton and Cambridge United in that run but then showed they can mix it up and perform differently depending on the opponent as they frustrated MK Dons on the road before snatching a late winner to get all three points.

Last weekend’s victory was courtesy of two late goals from Rekeil Pyke and Ryan Bowman in the 94th and 98th minute respectively as Town came from behind to beat Forest Green Rovers 2-1 – sending Montgomery Waters Meadow in meltdown and sparking wild scenes of celebration from the players down the touchline.

And Cotterill said he is glad his Town side has competition for places at the moment, and if he brings on the substitutes he knows they can hit the ground running.

He said: “I’m sure that when they don’t come on or when they do come on that there is still a little bit in them that wants to play because everyone wants to play.

“Until they make it 19-a-side that can’t happen.

“But what you want is that competition for places and that when someone is called upon, they go in and hit the ground running.

“The reason those boys have hit the ground running when they’ve come on later in the game last week is because of the extra training they do.

“When you are not in the starting line-up you have to do a little bit extra training. They do that and Chris Whalley does a really good job of keeping on top of them and so do the rest of the staff.”

Aiden O’Brien and Julien Dacosta left the club earlier this week on deadline day so they no longer come into the thinking when it comes to team selection, but Bowman and Pyke have staked a claim.

Killian Phillips was rotated out of the squad last weekend, Tom Bayliss taking his place, so it will be interesting to see what the boss does with his team ahead of kick-off.

Cotterill was present for Oxford’s game in midweek against Barnsley, a game Karl Robinson’s side ended up losing 2-1.

When the two sides met at the beginning of November, Matthew Pennington – who has been in fine goal-scoring form all season – cancelled out Cameron Brannagan’s first-half goal as the sides could not be separated, drawing 1-1.

Robinson’s men do not go into this game in the best of form having lost all of their last three fixtures in fact, one being against Burton Albion, who Salop smashed four past.

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