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Shrewsbury Town aim for Checkatrade Trophy Final success as remarkable League One season continues

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Shrewsbury striker Carlton Morris celebrates
Shrewsbury striker Carlton Morris celebrates

Shrewsbury Town come up against Lincoln City on Sunday afternoon looking for a trophy as their remarkable season continues.

This feature was originally published before the original scheduled Checkatrade Trophy semi-final match against Yeovil Town on 27/02/18.


Shrewsbury Town come up against Lincoln City on Sunday afternoon looking for a trophy as their remarkable season continues.

The possibility of Wembley glory is just one part of an extraordinary campaign for the Shropshire-based outfit under Hurst’s leadership, who has guided them from relegation candidates to possible Championship newcomers.

It’s incredible to think that Shrewsbury were the 5/4 favourites for the drop to League Two before the season started, with many writing them off before the season had even begun.

Our Tom Carnduff looks at their season so far, and examines some of the reasons that has led to their time at the top...

Goalkeeper Dean Henderson
Goalkeeper Dean Henderson

Helpful Henderson

A good team is often built with a solid goalkeeper at the back and Shrewsbury Town are no exception to this rule.

The 20-year-old is currently on a season-long loan at the Montgomery Waters Meadow and has been a pivotal part of what they have achieved so far.

He’s kept 14 clean sheets in all competitions this season, including shutting out Premier League outfit West Ham in the FA Cup clash back in January.

He boasts company amongst the likes of David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois when it comes to clean sheets in the English leagues during the current campaign, much to the delight of those involved with the club.

Shrewsbury Town are 11/8 to win the Checkatrade Trophy in 90 minutes on Sunday

Whilst he made an error in Salop’s defeat to Rotherham, he bounced back by producing two saves in quick succession to help his side secure a 2-0 away win over Charlton, a result which keeps Shrewsbury in League One’s top two.

Another positive for Town supporters is his quite visible enjoyment of life at the club. The modern measurement of social media reaction comes into play here, and you can guarantee Henderson will be one of the first to express his delight when they’ve secured three points.

The goalkeeping situation on the whole is a positive for Hurst. Craig MacGillivray stepped up to the mark during Henderson’s recent three-game ban conceding just two goals in three League One games.

Shrewsbury's Alex Rodman celebrates
Shrewsbury's Alex Rodman

Impact from the wings

Another key figure for Shrewsbury this season has been Alex Rodman, who joined the club from Notts County back in January 2017.

His contribution has undoubtedly helped Town to get to their current position, with his presence down the left playing a part in securing crucial points.

He's contributed goals in the recent victories over Bristol Rovers and Charlton, bouncing back from an 'awkward' injury picked up in the win over Fleetwood to score at the Valley.

The 31-year-old, who was almost forced to quit football when three blood clots were found on his lungs during a spell at non-league Aldershot, has been in great form for Hurst and is relishing the promotion challenge ahead.

Rodman also revealed that towards the end of Saturday's victory, Charlton forward Josh Magennis admitted to him that "No one has come here and done that to us all season. You boys were different class all over the pitch and I can see why you’re are up there."

Shrewsbury Town are 6/5 to secure promotion from Sky Bet League One this season

Town have the ability to cause damage from either wing, with Shaun Whalley lining-up on the right-hand side of the team.

The 30-year-old has been the most involved with Salop’s goals this season, highlighting his presence in the side.

In 44 appearances in all competitions this season, Whalley’s scored 11 and assisted a further 13 and sits amongst the likes of Graham Carey, Jack Payne and Marcus Maddison as the league’s most helpful players.

He has five assists in his last seven League One outings for Hurst’s side, hitting even better form as the season run-in draws closer.

Much like Henderson, if Shrewsbury are to achieve an historic promotion this season, you know that the wide-men will be a prominent part of any future success.

Jon Nolan
Jon Nolan

Jon Nolan’s form in midfield

Another player to link up with Hurst in the summer was Jon Nolan, who was a part of Grimsby’s promotion-winning side from the National League in 2016.

In fact, his signing at Grimsby was met with large-scale opposition. One supporter on a fan forum slammed the addition by saying ‘I usually hate people slating signings but flipping hell what a completely underwhelming signing. A known trouble causer and from what I've seen, no better than what we have. We desperately needed a first team starter. We've signed two bench warmers. Nice one.’

Fast-forward to February 2018, and Nolan is one of the top midfielders in League One. Shrewsbury’s position in the league is no coincidence with his presence in the side.

He may have missed a penalty in Saturday’s victory over Charlton, but his performance in the middle of the park earned praise from supporters and pundits alike, dominating proceedings for large parts of the game.

The 25-year-old has contributed with both goals and assists for the team this season, rivalling Whalley for the second top scorer spot in this side.

His performances haven’t gone unnoticed, with Norwich City one of a few clubs reportedly interested in securing his services during the transfer window.

You’d expect Nolan to be a Championship player next season, and for Town fans, they’ll be hoping it’s with them.

Paul Hurst Way
Paul Hurst Way

Paul Hurst Way

He’s made such an impact during his time at the club that supporters have renamed the road running up to the stadium after him.

In fact, Shropshire Council were happy for it to remain, saying ‘It’s brilliant to see Shrewsbury Town doing so well this season and this sign is a great response to how well the team is doing. Though it’s not an official sign we’re very happy for it to remain in place until the end of the season, when we hope Shrewsbury will be celebrating promotion.’

Hurst appears as a manager who says it as he sees it. Following the home draw with Gillingham, the Salop boss made comments about the crowd, criticising the low number but also the ‘lack’ of noise those who attended did create.

It divided opinion, but it highlights how much he wants promotion to happen. A swipe at the fans sometimes signals the beginning of the end for a manager, but it’s not the current case with Hurst. Oddly, midweek attendances were higher at the beginning of the season, when potential promotion was a distant dream for most, but it shows how much his side need that fan support.

Shrewsbury Town are 14/1 to win the Sky Bet League One title this season

On the pitch, the players that he has brought into the club have more than played their part. Whilst they currently rival Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers for the top spots, and with both sides having far greater financial resources than Town, Hurst has had to adopt a ‘moneyball’ style approach to recruitment, and so far it’s worked.

Summer addition Stefan Payne, who joined for an undisclosed fee from Barnsley, sits as the side’s top scorer and Nolan has been gathering admirers in higher divisions due to his performances in midfield. The loan addition of Norwich’s Carlton Morris has created a competition for goals that all top teams need, and Omar Beckles has become a regular feature in defence.

He’s experienced play-off success previously, ending Grimsby Town’s six-year absence from the Football League with a Wembley victory in 2016. Hurst will be aiming for one better this time around though, with his side more than capable of a top-two finish.


Odds correct at 1010 BST on 06/04/18

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