League One Gameweek Eight: Shrewsbury Success In South London?6 min read
AFC Wimbledon seek their first victory of the campaign this weekend – will they get it against a Shrewsbury side struggling for goals?
Last week’s 2-1 loss will hurt AFC Wimbledon fans hugely.
That is, not just because of the defeat – they have lost at Stadium: MK in certain games before and still come away proud of the players – but because of the manner of the first-half performance.
A pathetic first half has cost us that one. Tactically wrong & players showing zero desire. Much better second half & the new loanees looked great. Wish Forss had been on for longer. Huge miss from Kalambayi at the end. We probably deserved the equaliser after that 2nd half #afcw
— Ed Hewison (@EdHewison) September 7, 2019
Wimbledon have never been the most technically gifted team in the world, but there is always an expectation on them to be aggressive, competitive and spirited in any game – let alone one with such high emotions attached to it.
Going to Milton Keynes is a difficult experience for fans generally, so to see the team so passive and reluctant to press in the first half would have been particularly hard to stomach.
With James Hanson departed and unreplaced, Joe Piggott is the de facto reference point from Nathan Trott’s goal-kicks or any high balls downfield – and while Piggott has a decent spring on him, he is not a natural target man.
We know that it is not in Wimbledon’s nature to be particularly technical when playing out from the back, which means they find it hard to open teams up when they have the ball in those deep areas.
For that reason, the pressing has to be perfect, because it is only when they win the ball high up that they can play in a way that suits their forwards – when the pressing is not perfect, as it was not at MK, it becomes difficult for them to create chances.
Shrewsbury’s strong signings
The worry for Shrewsbury Town will be that they have scored just four goals in their first six league games so far this season.
Perhaps most pertinently, the goals they have scored have not necessarily come from an initial attacking strategy.
The 1-0 win over Portsmouth on day one was all about organisation and the performances of their three centre-backs – Ro-Shaun Williams, Ethan Ebanks-Landell and Aaron Pierre.
It was not necessarily a good attacking performance, because their goal was a long-range belter from Ryan Giles out of the blue – the Shrews took just two other shots that day.
Then, the 3-2 victory at Accrington Stanley was, in fact, a poor performance in which Salop were second-best for long spells – but then raw athlete Daniel Udoh, a left-field striker addition from Telford this summer, sparked a comeback in the final 11 minutes.
Luckily for Ricketts, he has been backed, since the 3-0 loss at Ipswich with which they concluded August, to sign Jason Cummings from Nottingham Forest and add Callum Lang on loan from Wigan.
— Shrewsbury Town FC (@shrewsweb) September 2, 2019
Those signings could be game-changers for Shrewsbury, as well as the potential return to fitness for midfielder Oli Norburn, who was excellent last season and has been back running over the last two weeks – they may therefore, kick-off this league game with a squad stronger than the one that began the last.
The Tactics Board
So far this season, Wimbledon have tended to play well in one half of football and not so well in the other.
The team may feel they owe the fans a big performance after last week’s events, so we can expect a particularly high-intensity first half here – especially if Forss and Max Sanders come into the starting XI.
However, Forss is not going to relish long balls despite scoring a good header last week and with the team technically limited in certain areas, their most likely means of chance creation will be quick transitions – against three athletic centre-backs including Williams if fit, they could struggle for space in behind.
If Shrewsbury can manage the initial pressure they are likely to face in the first half, we can expect them to grow into the contest, start to get wing-backs Donald Love and Ryan Giles further forward, then bring Cummings and Lang into the game.
The Betting Angle
For our best bet, we’ll take the 29/20 on Shrewsbury to win; although the Half-Time/Full-Time: Draw/Shrewsbury at 5/1 is an option for those looking for a chunkier price.
Tip: Shrewsbury to win