Bad day at office for Shrewsbury defence – Sam Ricketts
Sam Ricketts is ready to write off his Shrewsbury defence’s horror second-half display against Oxford as a bad day at the office.
Town’s backline was cut apart in the final 20 minutes against the U’s as the visitors denied Salop mathematically League One safety with their late show.
But Ricketts pointed to his defenders’ recent improvements, particularly in crucial away wins and clean sheets at Southend and Gillingham.
Oxford hot-shot Gavin Whyte got the better of the Shrews backline on three occasions, out-pacing Luke Waterfall and Omar Beckles to finish well for his treble.
“Players were very honest and held their hands up, saying they could and should have done better,” Ricketts said on the errors.
“But on the whole the defence has been very, very good recently.
“They were two of the easiest goals we’ve given away for a little while, which is disappointing when we’ve come on the back of some really, really strong defensive performances at Southend and Gillingham.
“It’s disappointing, ultimately it’s why we lost the game. I just felt we could’ve controlled and moved the ball far better as well.”
Ricketts only made one change from the Good Friday defeat at Barnsley, where Town played well.
But the boss suggested that concentration and fatigue were the key sticking points against the in-form U’s.
Oxford’s winner came directly from a defender’s clearance as Shrews went forward, as Whyte sped past Waterfall.
“It can be fatigue, talking and mentality. Fatigue is probably the biggest one, concentration levels, two yards one way or the other means you’re in a good or bad position,” added Ricketts.
“A bad position against a player of Whyte’s speed gets punished and that’s what happened for both goals.”
Town have kept 13 clean sheets in 44 league games this season, just five on the road – two came in the relegation clashes at Southend and Gills.
Ricketts’ men have only won one of their last five matches at Montgomery Waters Meadow, that coming in the late turnaround against Wycombe.
“I didn’t think we were particularly great (in the first half) but we found a way to come in 2-1 up, which is very good,” said Ricketts.
“Concentration levels and fatigue meant we just weren’t at it in the second half and if we were we would’ve seen the game out very, very easily.”
Town are four points clear of the drop zone ahead of Sunday’s trip to Coventry.