Sunderland make the trip to wonderful Shropshire this weekend as new boss Phil Parkinson takes on Sam Ricketts’ Shrewsbury Town to complete our third game in seven days.
The Black Cats were phenomenal on Tuesday evening as they bounced back from two straight defeats on the road to thrash Tranmere Rovers by five goals to nil, producing their best performance of the season in the process.
Today’s opponents are on a run of only one win in their last five league games, and sit in mid-table, but will be hoping they can get their own season back on track after failing to win any of their last four home fixtures.
On Shrewsbury Town...
They’ll be pleased with what they’ve done.
They drew the other night [playing] three-five-two and I expect them to play that way. They’re a very hard working team, I have to say that in the games I’ve watched... we’ve got to be ready to match that, which I expect us to. It’s [about] working out how we can get the better of their system and ‘can we exploit them in areas?’. ‘Can we play as positively as we did the other night?’
That is the key.
On playing away from the Stadium of Light, and if it’s tough..
It is but we’ll have a big away following at the weekend.
We’ve got to go play like the home team - I really do feel that. We’ve got to use the supporters who spend their hard-earned cash to come and watch us play and make such a great atmosphere, like they did at Wycombe.
We’ve got to play with that front-foot mentality that we showed the other night, and if we do we’ll have a good chance at the weekend.
Phil Parkinson has confirmed the ankle injury suffered by Lynden Gooch’s in midweek is “not too serious” but has ruled him out for Saturday’s game at New Meadow, meaning there’ll be an enforced change on the wing.
Thankfully for Parkinson, player of the season Aiden McGeady returns from suspension and is likely to come straight back in for the American on the left-hand side of an advanced midfield three.
It is unknown whether Duncan Watmore will start for the third game in succession, with the manager claiming his return to first team action has left him “stiff and tired”, but did confirm he’ll take a closer look at the flame-haired forward’s fitness closer to the game.
Elsewhere, Charlie Wyke’s ankle ligament injury continues to keep him sidelined.
View From The Opposition
Whilst Sunderland enjoyed a 5-0 win in midweek, Salop could only muster a draw, as defender Omar Beckles rescued a point give them a share of the spoils at home to Gillingham.
Draws and a chronic lack of goals have been a huge cause for concern for Shrews, especially at New Meadow, where Sam Ricketts’ side have struggled in front of goal, failing to score in three of their five previous home matches.
Despite fan pressure, Ricketts will look to continue with his favoured 3-5-2 formation - which means travelling fans will catch a glimpse of former Sunderland defender Donald Love, who will be deployed at right-wing back, presumably pitting him against Aiden McGeady.
Venue: Montgomery Waters Meadow, Shrewsbury
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Current position: 14th
Last season position: 18th (League One)
Last 5 results:
(L1) Tranmere Rovers (H) 5-0
(L1) Wycombe Wanderers (A) 0-1
(LT) Grimsby Town (H) 3-2
(L1) Lincoln City (A) 0-2
(L1) MK Dons (H) 2-1
(L1) Gillingham (H) 1-1
(L1) Lincoln City (A) 0-0
(LT) Newcastle United U21 (H) 3-0
(L1) Tranmere Rovers (A) 1-0
(L1) Fleetwood Town (H) 0-3
The Lads at Shrewsbury
20 Oct 2018 (L1) Shrewsbury Town 0-2 Sunderland (Beckles OG, O’Nien)
24 Sep 1988 (D2) Shrewsbury Town 0-0 Sunderland
25 Apr 1987 (D2) Shrewsbury Town 0-1 Sunderland (Bennett)
21 Sep 1985 (D2) Shrewsbury Town 1-2 Sunderland (Pickering 2)
08 Apr 1980 (D2) Shrewsbury Town 1-2 Sunderland (Robson, Cummins)
Top goalscorers (in all competitions)
2 - Jason Cummings
2 - Omar Beckles
1 - Ryan John Giles
1 - Callum Lang
1 - Oliver Norburn
Last Time We Met
Almost exactly a year ago, on-form Sunderland took all three points on a wonderfully sunny day in Shropshire. After an even opening 45 minutes, the Lads took control of the game early on in the second half, and had to thank boss Jack Ross for his inspired trio of substitutions which changed the course of the game.
Lynden Gooch, who walked away with the man of the match award, was introduced with fellow academy graduate George Honeyman in the 54th minute, and it was through Gooch that the Black Cats would open the scoring.
Following a short corner from Honeyman, Shrews’ defender Omar Beckles shanked a Gooch cross into his own net past goalkeeper Joel Coleman and from there on in Sunderland were dominant.
Chris Maguire came close to adding a second shortly afterwards, but it was summer signing Luke O’Nien who would clinch the victory, smashing home from 12 yards only two minutes after his introduction to the game.
Sunderland would end the evening third in the table, with John Askey’s Salop hovering one point above the relegation zone in 19th.