Malcolm Dawson writes….we’ve already a great preview of tomorrow’s League Cup from Shrewsbury fan Carl Jones (read it here). How much we should read into the result, whatever it is, is a moot point, as is how much time David Moyes is allocating to the preparations with the transfer window nearing closure. Now Pete Sixsmith finds time in between his forays into non league football and his trip to Salisbury, prior to our clash with Southampton, to bring us a Sunderland perspective on the match. He may or may not have time to file a report for us on Thursday but rest assured he will be there.
BRING ON THE SHREWS.
That was not a great couple of days. Sports pages have been unread, Match of the Day and BBC Look North have both been studiously ignored and I kept well away from Total Sport on BBC Newcastle. Losing at home is bad enough but when it’s to the nearest you get to a local derby………..
On reflection, there were some positives to take from it but not many. The worst thing was the absolute paucity of our squad with untried teenagers sitting on the bench while last season’s second best team in the championship had experienced internationals.
The team for tomorrow night’s eagerly anticipated clash (at least it will be in Shropshire and probably amongst those of a black and white persuasion) will be interesting. Last night’s Under 23 selection gave us an idea of what to expect, with two Robsons (J and E), Greenwood and Honeyman all part of the side that beat Leicester City 3-2 at the Stupid Bloody Clappers Stadium.
So reading between the lines, that suggests that Thomas Robson and Asoro may well start tomorrow. How about this for an XI to take on the mighty Shrews: Pickford; Love, Rodwell, McNair, Robson (T); Gooch, Lens, Pienaar, Khazri; Watmore; Asoro.
It’s a team of players who either want to make it at Sunderland or who, according to the never ending negativity of the rumour mill, are looking to leave for pastures new.
Shrewsbury is a gem of a town. It’s a pity we weren’t drawn away to them as a couple of days on the banks of the meandering River Severn would have been lovely. They no longer play at Gay Meadow, scene of a storming 2-1 win in our promotion season in 1979. Pop Robson put us ahead, they equalised and then Stan Cummins scored an absolute snorter near the end to wrap up the points. Chris Turner had an outstanding game in goal as we went to the top of the league after a 100% Easter – we had won at Wrexham the previous day and had beaten Newcastle on (very) Good Friday.
Like us, they finished just above the dreaded drop zone, in their case by a respectable four-point margin. I saw them play once last season, a horrible 0-0 draw at Fleetwood where both sides could have played until kingdom come and they wouldn’t have scored.
They are managed by Micky Mellon, a tough midfielder from North of the Border who had a decent career at places like Tranmere, Fleetwood, Blackpool and West Brom. He went on to manage Fleetwood, taking them through the then Conference North and Conference to the Football League and signing Jamie Vardy from Halifax Town. So he has experience and knows a good player when he sees one.
In his current squad at Shrewsbury, he has former Middlesbrough goalkeeper Jayson Leutweiler, Newcastle loanee Ivan Toney, relatively prolific goalscorer Ajay Leitch-Smith (who sounds like a pre-war BBC newsreader) and burly Egyptian defender Adam El-Abd, who headed the winner on Saturday as they claimed their first league win of the campaign, beating Chesterfield 2-1. Full back Junior Brown had headed in the first one, so whoever plays at centre half tomorrow needs to be alert.
That Shrewsbury should be sent back to Shropshire with no further interest in the League Cup is by no means a certainty. But a good win could get our season going and boy do we need that. In the last few years Northampton Town, Exeter City, Morecambe and MK Dons have caused us problems at this stage but we did go through. We don’t want Shrewsbury to be the ones to deepen the gloom that has descended over the banks of the bonny Wear.