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In opposition this season: Shrewsbury Town

17 July 2014

The second of two home games in November will pit the Grecians against recently-relegated Shrewsbury Town.  Oliver Roderick takes a look at the Shrews, another of the Grecians’ opponents this term.


Last season
After two seasons in League 1, Shrewsbury Town were relegated back to the fourth tier.

Wins were certainly hard to come by for the Shrews, who managed only nine, the lowest total in the division.  It was a season of struggle from the start: they won only one of their opening ten, and a spell of three wins in five in November was as good as it got.

The club parted company with manager Graham Turner in January, replacing him with Michael Jackson, initially on a caretaker basis before he was given control permanently a month later. Jackson is now in new manager Micky Mellon’s backroom staff.


The summer so far
Micky Mellon made his first signing since being appointed manager of Shrewsbury Town by capturing Ashley Vincent, the former Cheltenham winger.  He was followed by Peterborough’s Nathaniel Knight-Percival and Crewe’s Mark Ellis.

Last season’s captain Tamika Mkandawire was released alongside fellow defender Dave Winfield, while Peterborough signed Shrews winger Jon Taylor.  Tom Bradshaw headed for Walsall and left-back Joe Jacobson went to Wycombe.

More signings would come: Mickey Demetriou arrived from local rivals Kidderminster Harriers, striker James Collins returned to the club from Hibernian and goalkeeper Mark Halstead joined from Blackpool. There were more still: James Wesolowski came from Oldham, Jayson Leutwiler was snapped up after his Middlesbrough contract ended, Scott Vernon arrived from Aberdeen and free agent James Caton also came in.


The manager

This will be Micky Mellon’s first season as Shrewsbury Town manager after his appointment to succeed Michael Jackson (not to be confused with Exeter City’s own King of Pop!).

Mellon had previously been a joint-caretaker manager at Barnsley alongside current Bury boss David Flitcroft following the sacking of Keith Hill, and before that he oversaw two promotions at Fleetwood to take them into the Football League.

He has already set about crafting a promotion challenge ahead of the new season: ten new players have arrived at the New Meadow this summer.


Ones to watch

James Collins, the Irish striker who this summer rejoined the Shrews from Hibernian, scored 14 league goals as Town were promoted to League 1 two years ago, and will look to replicate that feat this term.

Manchester-born striker Scott Vernon also arrived this summer, and found the net 43 times in his four seasons with the Scottish club.  Vernon has plenty of Football League experience, and has been promoted twice, with Colchester in 2006 and then Blackpool the following season.


Head to head
The Shrews haven’t tasted defeat against the Grecians since 2001, when Graeme Power got the goal in a 1-0 win at Gay Meadow.  There has been some particularly one-sided iterations of this fixture, such as City’s 5-1 home win in March 1957 and Town’s 6-1 success in August 1991.

Last time out, in March 2009, this fixture ended in a 1-1 draw, with Marcus Stewart equalising for the Grecians after Grant Holt’s penalty. 
 
Exeter City wins: 17
Shrewsbury Town wins: 19
Draws: 13


Club links

Jamie Cureton went on loan from Norwich City to Shrewsbury Town shortly before he made a permanent switch to St James Park in 2010.  He never managed to score in his 12 games as a Shrew, but enjoyed more success in his three spells in Devon later on.

Gary Peters has managed both clubs, taking charge of City in 2003 and bossing the Shrews for four years from 2004 to 2008.  As a player he made over 250 appearances for Reading across two spells – he also signed for Aldershot and Fulham on more than one occasion.

Other club links include Tim Steele, Darran Rowbotham, Russell Coughlin, Scott Partridge, Noel Blake, David Pleat and Steve Biggins.


Key clash
Exeter City 1-0 Shrewsbury Town, St James Park, Saturday 10th March 2001
Steve Flack’s 67th-minute goal was enough to secure a 1-0 win over Shrewsbury Town at St James Park that helped the Grecians to inch further away from the Division Three relegation zone.


Odds
Shrewsbury Town are 9/1 with Sky Bet to go back up as League 2 Champions at the first time of asking.  At odds of 7/4, promotion has been deemed a safe bet, while relegation is at 25/1.

On opening day, the Shrews are reintroduced to life in the fourth tier with a trip to AFC Wimbledon.  Town are 17/10 to win that one, with the hosts 6/4 and the draw 21/10.

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