Shropshire Star

Reading v Shrewsbury: Town facing a pivotal run in their battle to pull clear

Paul Hurst’s side really need to start picking up some points before their position becomes even more perilous.

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After last weekend’s defeat to Wigan, Shrewsbury sit just three points outside of the bottom four while the majority of the teams below them all have games in hand on Salop.

Although Town’s form has been inconsistent, their league position has been fairly secure all season – until now.

Hurst’s men have a run of games coming up where it is imperative they start picking up points, starting with the clash against Reading tomorrow at The Madejski Stadium.

In the five games following the trip to Berkshire, Town play Lincoln and Blackpool before having huge games against Port Vale, Exeter and Carlisle all in succession.

This game, and those that follow, are set to be pivotal to the outcome of their season.

When the two sides met earlier in the campaign, Shrewsbury produced a remarkable stoppage-time turn-around with Jason Sraha and Chey Dunkley both scoring to help Town win 3-2.

Considering their off-field issues Reading have managed to compete well this campaign. They won in midweek against Port Vale, a game that had to be replayed after it was abandoned in January when their fans invaded the pitch in protest against their Chinese owner Dai Yongge.

And even this clash involved some sort of protest against their owner as they held up red cards in the 16th minute of the game calling for tougher regulations on clubs and their owners.

The Royals sit three points above Shrewsbury in the table, albeit they have played a game more.

The game looks like it could be a difficult one in prospect for Town as Ruben Selles’ team are in good form, winning three out of their last five games and only losing to table-of-the-table Portsmouth 4-1 at Fratton Park.

Salop on the other hand are winless in four – with their last victory coming in Hurst’s first game in charge where they produced a wonderful performance to dismantle Northampton. Last time out was the first time they have failed to score under the new boss since he took over almost a month ago.

Salop have struggled on the road for the vast majority of the season, but under Hurst they have done better, albeit it is a small sample size, but as well as that victory over the Cobblers they did very well to come from behind against Derby and snatch a late point. Aaron Pierre was the man to get the all-important goal on that occasion.

Performances have on the whole been pretty good, it is just the points return that has not been ideal, and Cheltenham are coming up behind Salop.

Considering they did not score for the first 11 games of the season, the job Darrell Clarke has done has been sensational – they trail Town by three points with two games in hand, and they are in great form having won their last three consecutive matches.