Shrewsbury Town comment: One defeat in 18 – is it fortress Meadow?
Prepare yourselves for a surprising stat – Shrewsbury Town have lost just once in 18, yes 18, matches at Montgomery Waters Meadow.
Yes, do a double take of that. I had to browse the list of results at least half-a-dozen times to check. Can’t be right, can it?
There are a couple of caveats with it, admittedly. That run is across all competitions, thus including Checkatrade Trophy and FA Cup ties.
It does also consist of a number of draws. Nine wins and eight draws in that run, alongside the one defeat, against Sunderland (2-0), on October 20.
However you want to dissect and analyse it – that is a seriously impressive run of results.
You could argue that, in the only defeat, a 2-0 success for Sunderland was not an entirely ‘fair’ scoreline, Shaun Whalley hit the crossbar at 0-0 in the first half that day.
Remarkably, the 18 matches take Shrewsbury back to the first week of the season, where they lost back-to-back Meadow clashes against Bradford and Burton under John Askey.
But what does it mean – if anything?
It’s certainly too long a run of results to be a coincidence or a fluke, or anything like that.
Equally, it is not because Shrewsbury have played against teams they’re expected to beat. There have been fixtures against Barnsley, Accrington Stanley, Peterborough, Coventry, Stoke, all either having decent seasons or big-hitters.
So the truth is that – while it is a bit hyperbole to claim ‘Fortress Meadow’ – Shrewsbury are certainly tough to beat on home soil.
And that will stand Sam Ricketts and his side in good stead, particularly when it brings them up against calibre of opposition such as Charlton.
Such a run does create a ‘feeling’ going into a game in both the home and away changing rooms.
Ricketts will have his Town players feeling like they are a tough nut to crack in familiar settings. The unbeaten run – 10 home games – is a real positive to cling to.
Town players can take confidence that, many times over the past few months, they have come under the cosh against teams that probably should have beaten them, but they stood firm.
They have a knack of, even when not at their best, carving out a decent point with some resolute and organised defending.
Resolute and organised defending is something 16th-placed Town need to add to their game on the road this season – where the story is vastly different.
The away record is still League One’s poorest, albeit Shrewsbury were very impressive defensively in their last league away trip to Sunderland.
The run of one defeat in 18 will also find its way into the opposition’s pre-match preparations.
Visitors will be aware of the run and it could play on their minds if they don’t start well and Shrewsbury get an early foothold. Every piece of psychological gain Town can use to their advantage is crucial in a game of fine margins and small percentages.
The impressive run of results has not – yet – brought expectancy to Montgomery Waters Meadow.
You would be hard pushed to find even the most ardent Salop fan expecting a victory against the fourth-placed Addicks today – Dave Edwards factor or not.
But there is a quiet confidence that can often be sensed. Whenever Town have not been on top in games there has been an underlying feel of ‘come on, we’re better than this at home’.
Charlton, Doncaster and Luton are the three next sides to test the Meadow record. If Shrewsbury come out of those three with the run intact, they may have established their fortress.