Shrewsbury continued their solid form in League Two with a 5-0 thumping of promotion rivals Bury, who started the evening in second place.
Tuesday’s game kick started a run of three consecutive home games. Shrewsbury face a visit from Portsmouth on Saturday, followed by Premier League giants Chelsea next Tuesday and the Shrews will go in to both games with a lot of confidence.
The Shropshire side came in to the game on the back of two wins, after beating York on Saturday and Cheltenham last week. Pre-kick-off predictions suggested a tight game was on the cards, however, it was anything but. It took just three minutes for the home side to get off the mark, with Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro slotting home a fine shot from a Connor Goldson pass. Fifteen minutes later and the Captain – Goldson himself – got his name on the score sheet, as he headed home a Bobby Grant corner.
Akpro soon got his second of the evening when he nodded home fellow striker James Collins’ cross, as Shrewsbury put clear daylight between the two sides before the interval. It took just six minutes following the restart for Akpro to complete his hat-trick. He latched on to a James Wesolowski pass and slotted home. The fifth and final goal came from substitute Jordan Clark, who scored a fantastic volley to complete the rout.
The result leaves just one place and two points separating the two sides in the table. It was a great night for Shrewsbury, who really lay down the marker and showed that they mean business. However, the manager, Micky Mellon, was quick to claim the result is likely to be a one-off for Bury.
He told the official Shrewsbury website, “There were some really good performances and we needed to be on the money tonight as we were playing a very good Bury side, and this is a blip for them so were not getting carried away.
“I am telling you now, any side that finishes above Bury will win the league.”
Struggling Portsmouth are next to visit Shropshire, before the highly anticipated League Cup tie, when Jose Mourinho brings his side to town.
Shrewsbury have been granted some temporary stands by the Football League to fill the open corners at Greenhaus Meadow, which will see the ground’s capacity temporarily increased to over 10,000 – the largest home crowd for Shrewsbury since 1991, when Arsenal arrived to play in the FA Cup. Tickets for the temporary stands were snapped up within hours and it is expected to be a memorable night for Micky Mellon’s side, no matter the result.
Chelsea will go in to the fixutre off the back of a 6-0 hammering of Slovenian outfit Maribor and a huge game against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday. Unfortunately for the Blues, their striking injury woes worsened on Tuesday night, as Loic Remy injured himself while scoring Chelsea’s first goal on the night, consequently being replaced by a more than capable veteran in Didier Drogba. Star striker Diego Costa is currently a major doubt for the game on Sunday, which will surely leave Mourinho sweating with only Drogba available to lead the line.
It will be interesting to see how Chelsea line up against the lowest ranked side remaining in the competition; will Mourinho play a strong team in order to get the job done, or play a more-or-less fringe side? With only Drogba available up front, he is likely to play five in midfield in both of the upcoming ties, or opt for the same formation he used on Tuesday night, where Brazilian playmaker Oscar filled in behind Remy and Drogba.
Despite all of Chelsea’s positives so far this season, they don’t have a lot of squad depth and Costa and Remy’s injuries mean the Blues will be hoping that Drogba doesn’t pick up a knock against United on the weekend. Ironically, despite their lack of numbers, Chelsea currently have more players out on loan than any other Premier League side, with a staggering 26 players plying their trade elsewhere. Fernando Torres, Marko Marin, Christian Atsu, Ryan Bertrand and Victor Moses make up five of those 26, at AC Milan, Sevilla, Everton, Southampton and Stoke respectively.
If the Blues are unlucky enough to see more names added to the injury list, Mourinho may have to consider re-calling some players, depending on how determined he is to progress in the League Cup. I very much doubt Torres will be back at Stamford Bridge any time soon though.
No matter how each side line up, it is expected to be an attacking and entertaining game of football, as both sides are currently proving to have no issues in the goalscoring department, but many neutrals will be backing the home side to cause an upset.