Five games that sealed Shrewsbury’s historic promotion
Now that the dust has settled on another exciting season in League Two its time to look back at our season and instead of asking ourselves (as we normally would) where did it all go wrong, its time we asked just what did we do so right this season.
It’s time to look back at five moments that for me helped to ensure our memorable return to League one.
5) Shrewsbury 1-0 Port Vale
This was one of the biggest games of the campaign and with only three games to go, a result here was vital. We had been beating the Vale 1-0 when a fire caused the original game to be abandoned and left Shrews fans in fear that this could be our season’s Wigglesworth moment; that we could lose the rearranged fixture and not seal promotion as a result. However, this was not to be as a Matt Richards effort was deflected into the Vale net in the 70th minute to help us seal a 1-0 victory over our Staffordshire rivals.
4) Shrewsbury 1-0 Dagenham
I had to mention the game we actually sealed promotion in somewhere in this list. One of the most professional displays I have ever seen from a Shrewsbury side, we knew what we needed to do and we did it. We could have easily screwed up against an in form Dagenham side but we maintained our composure and got ourselves into League one.
3) Shrewsbury 2-1 Crawley
Needless to say, this was a massive result. After going a goal behind thanks to John Akinde and being absolutely dominated for the majority of the opening 45 minutes, many thought that our home record was now well and truly lost, Crawley appeared to be the better team and we were really struggling to create chances. Step forward Mark Wright on the stroke of half time, hitting a fantastic shot into the bottom corner of the net to give us hope going into the second half. The second half came around and the play continued in the same style; however despite Crawley’s dominance they couldn’t find the net. Luckily for us, Marvin Morgan could. We won the game 2-1 thanks to Morgan’s late effort and this was a huge result on our way to promotion. Did we deserve it? No. But we had weathered the storm, we had been dominated by a fine attacking football team for 90 minutes and still come out on top, this was when I finally started believing that we could achieve Promotion.
2) Shrewsbury 2-2 Oxford United
Oxford United were, in my opinion the best side Shrewsbury Town faced this season. Away from home earlier in the season they had made us look like an average league two side, brushing us aside with a dominant 2-0 victory. So when they visited the Meadow on a Tuesday night in early March I was expecting a tough game. Things did not start brightly for us when Lee Holmes smashed a shot past Chris Neal from outside the area in the first minute. Every body knew we were in for a difficult night, but things got even worse just before half time when a beautiful display of counter attacking football ended with Holmes chipping the ball over Neal from close range to the put the U’s 2-0 up and put our unbeaten home record in serious jeopardy. Following the restart we looked a little more improved but still didn’t look as though we could pull 2 goals back. Ten minutes in though and things changed. Mark Wright hit a superb volley past the Oxford keeper to restore some hope for us. However the game got closer and closer to the end and despite our attacking intent, we didn’t look like we’d find the net. 94 minutes, step forward Matt Richards. The midfielder picked up the ball from 35 yards out and with the fans roaring him on to shoot, the ex Walsall man picked his spot and smashed an unstoppable strike into the back of the net to sending the home fans into the rafters. This was the game I realised just how unbeatable we are at home, teams were scared of coming here and our confidence was soaring after this memorable comeback.
1) Shrewsbury 2-1 Southend
In my opinion this game was the biggest turning point of the season. The game took place towards the end of January and going into the fixture Southend were sat at the top of the table, whilst we were sat in fifth place, Southend came into the game 7 points clear of us. We knew that they were going to be a huge threat to our unbeaten home record and we also knew that a loss would have put us a fair few points outside of the automatic promotion race had other results not gone our way. 28 minutes into the game and things took a turn for the worse for us; Marvin Morgan was controversially sent us leaving us without one of our best players and with only ten men to take on the league leaders with. However we somehow managed to find a way through on 56 minutes when James Collins was brought down in the area, the Irish man then stepped up himself to convert the resulting penalty. We now had a goal and had something to hold onto. Ten minutes later that something to hold onto was took away from us when Ryan Hall smashed a shot in from the edge of the area to give the table toppers an equaliser. General consensus among the home fans was that we’d be lucky to hold on any longer and get a point; we needed to defend for our lives to maintain our unbeaten record. However this train of thought never got through to the players on the pitch and the home fans witnessed a turning point in their teams mentality that day. Gone were the Shrews of the last few seasons who would crumble in such situations and ultimately end their season with their head in their hands come May, in their place were a team who wanted to be celebrating promotion come the end of the May and on 84 minutes Jermaine Grandison headed home from a Matt Richards corner to seal us a famous victory, one which changed the fate of our season and one which in my opinion put one of our feet in league one that day.
You can follow me on Twitter @LiamHoofe