Many Thanks to Shrews fan Jack Groom for taking part this week and answering our Trash Talk questions. I think his first comment is very interesting knowing our penchant for conceding the first goal and we are one of the few clubs to have scored in every game this season….0-0 anyone?
1 – We are about a quarter of the way through the season, so how is it looking for your team so far?
It’s fair to say the season has not started how anybody connected with the club had hoped or envisaged. Second bottom of the league, conceded first in all except one of our games and yet to keep a clean sheet in any competition – as starts go it’s disastrous.
There was a real feeling of optimism heading into the campaign: manager Steve Cotterill back on the touchline after his horrific battle with Covid-19; the club staying up last season when relegation looked a formality when Cotterill took over; a blank slate for the Bristolian to construct his own squad throughout the summer and build on the positive feeling he’d created around the club even from his hospital bed.
However, a paper-thin squad with barely any cover, combined with a very poor start to the season, has seen that feeling of hope soon quashed. There have been serious questions asked of the manager’s recruitment and his failure to build a squad to compete in this league. The quality of player he has brought in hasn’t been too bad – it is just that there has not been enough of them.
2 – We are noticing that some clubs are struggling with attendances, are you back anywhere near to your pre-Covid attendances?
There has been a slight dip from pre-Covid, where we would usually get 5-6000 on average, whereas this season has seen it sit more around the 4,500 – 5,000 mark – although the team’s fortunes will likely have had an impact on that too.
3- We note that many clubs are going across to digital tickets and cashless stadiums and this has caused major problems for fans, is this something that has affected you as a fan, home or away?
This isn’t something that is in place at the Montgomery Waters’ Meadow, and I am yet to be affected by it myself. However, my Dad went to the Sheffield Wednesday game at Hillsborough a few weeks ago and had to go hungry when he realised, he only had cash on him there!
4 – Every club has played about half the teams in League 1, who do you think is the best and the worst team you have played so far?
Admittedly I’ve not been able to attend all the games so far, but from what I have seen Plymouth impressed me. They beat us 0-3 at home, and they looked a cohesive unit all well-drilled and with a strike partnership of Ryan Hardie and Luke Jephcott that combined exceptionally well.
As for the worst, I’ll go for Gillingham. They are one of the two sides we’ve beaten, along with AFC Wimbledon, and Wimbledon looked a decent side in fairness who knocked it around well, so I’ll go for Gillingham. Their long-ball style isn’t attractive, and Steve Evans isn’t a manager I have a huge amount of personal affection for either!
5 – In our forthcoming game what sort of style can we expect to see from your team?
Our game focuses on getting the ball out wide and creating chances from there. Most of our goals have come from either crosses or opportunities fashioned by some good interplay from our wingbacks or wingers. You can also probably expect a lack of ruthlessness up front and an early lead.
6 – Is there any current MK Dons player that you would like to see playing for your team?
There are a few in fairness. I’ll go for the obvious – Scott Twine. He’s the type of calibre of player that excites fans, not to mention his obvious attacking ability and skill to create something out of nothing – something that is severely lacking in our squad.
7 – Every lower league club fear that the big boys are monitoring their players, is there anybody in your team that is attracting unwanted attention, and might be lured away in January?
Tom Bloxham definitely. The 6’5” 17-year-old striker scored our first goal of the season – and his first senior goal – with a stunning overhead kick against Gillingham. He has been one of the few shining lights for us this year, and at such a young age has looked arguably our most dangerous attacker. I can’t see him being with us this time next season, whatever division we are in.
8 – Is there anyone in your team that we should really fear as a potential game changer?
Not really! Individual quality is something that is severely lacking in our squad. Experienced attacker Shaun Whalley is, alongside Bloxham, one of the few who can take the game by the scruff of the neck, alongside Josh Vela – our standout player. He is head and shoulders our best player, but fortunately for yourselves is likely to be injured for this game.
9 – Can you predict where you think your club will finish at the end of the season, and where the MK Dons will finish?
As things stand right now, I can’t foresee anything but a relegation battle for us. Things would need to drastically change for us to not be involved in a scrap for survival. As for you, I’ve been a fan of how you’ve recruited over the past year or so and think you have constructed a solid League One squad. I don’t see why you can’t be challenging for the play-offs.
10 – Many thanks for taking part, all we need now is your prediction for the game?
It will be a really tough game for us. My head is saying we will get beaten, but my heart believes – as always – we can get something out of it. I’ll go 1-1.