"Oh I have been to Ludlow fair and left my necktie God knows where,
And carried half-way home, or near, pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
Then the world seemed none so bad, and I myself a sterling lad;
And down in lovely muck I’ve lain, happy till I woke again.
Then I saw the morning sky, heigh-ho the tale was all a lie;
The world, it was the old world yet, I was I, my things were wet;
And nothing now remained to do, but begin the game anew."
(A. E. Housman “A Shropshire Lad”)
Early match preview this week for the most important and decisive game of the season. The Saddlers travel to Sloppie-land knowing that only an away win will give us the remotest chance of avoiding the drop to League 2 - the outcome of other games will have a bearing on our fate. There is one current player connection between the two clubs of course, in the form of ex-Saddler Mat Sadler the Shrewsbury Town captain. The other main link concerns their previous venue Gay Meadow - the record attendance there was for a League Division 3 game on 26th April 1961 vs Walsall, 18,917 watched the game which ended in a Walsall win 1-2 … let’s hope for the same scoreline on Saturday!
Shrewsbury Town secured their survival yesterday by taking a point home from the Ricoh (and also ended Coventry City’s faint hopes of a play-off place). On the beach already? Doubtful - specially with a large contingent of home supporters urging them on to “Send Walsall down”, as quoted in the blue-and-amber message board. Current League form:-
Mar 30 Southend United (A) Won 0-2
Apr 6 Scunthorpe United (H) Drew 1-1
Apr 13 Gillingham (A) Won 0-2
Apr 19 Barnsley (A) Lost 2-1
Apr 22 Oxford United (H) Lost 2-3
Apr 28 Coventry City (A) Drew 1-1
Martin O’Connor shouldn’t have any problem in selecting his squad for this game - just do exactly what was done for the Peterborough United fixture at the weekend! He has been quoted as saying that he couldn’t fully understand where that performance came from, as his preparation had been identical to previous matches - Martin, you’re not alone!!
Looking at the various permutations that can affect us on Saturday … the foot of the League One table currently looks like this:-
AFC Wimbledon 49 points, goal difference -21
Southend United 47 points, goal difference -14
Plymouth Argyle 47 points, goal difference -25
Walsall 46 points, goal difference -22
Scunthorpe Utd 46 points, goal difference -29
Bradford City 40 points, goal difference -28 ®
So … IF we win, that puts us on 49 points. Other matches that could help/hinder us:-
Bradford City v AFC Wimbledon (IF Bradford City win, we leapfrog the Wombles)
Southend United v Sunderland (IF Southend Utd lose or draw, we go above them)
Plymouth Argyle v Scunthorpe Utd (A draw would see us above both, A win for Argyle keeps us above Scunthorpe, and a win for Scunthorpe puts us above Argyle).
Clear as mud, isn’t it???
Prediction? Play like we did against Peterborough and I can’t see many teams living with us, let alone the Sloppies. A repeat of their record attendance game (1-2) would be ideal, with our twin strike force of Andy Cook and Josh Gordon netting.
And if it all goes pear-shaped, there’s always next season and Cheltenham Town…