"...this is the most articulate and accurate piece written about the club for years!" - Tales from the Front, http://www.otib.co.uk/

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Bookies Corner: City v Port Vale

In a new feature for The Exiled Robin, lifelong Bristol City fan and easyodds.com football tipster Ross Casey is previewing Bristol City’s matches from a betting angle.  He may have missed out on his main tip on Saturday thanks to a couple of shocking misses from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, but did highlight possible value in a Freddie Sears goal so where does he think your money should be going on Tuesday Night?!

City go into their League One clash with Port Vale on Tuesday after letting slip a comfortable 2-0 lead to Colchester on the weekend, we eventually drew 2-2 with our relegation rivals. That point meant we gained a place in the League One table, but many fans saw it as two points dropped after being in such a good position with 25 minutes left to play. We are now five points clear of the relegation zone in 15th, but Carlisle and Stevenage do have a game in hand on us, so by no means are we out of the woods yet.

We were 15/1 to be relegated before the Colchester match, but have shortened to a best price 14/1 now. Paddy Power don’t seem to rate our chances much however – they make us 9/1. What have we ever done to the Irish?! Port Vale come into this match in 10th position, eight points off the play-offs with 27 points left to play for. Steve Cotterill has said if he were Vale manager – he would still be looking at the play-offs, so they will be coming to the Gate looking for the win.

MATCH ODDS:
BRISTOL CITY – 21/20 (MarathonBet)
DRAW – 27/10 (BetVictor)
PORT VALE – 3/1 (SkyBet)

BRISTOL CITY:
Bristol City are clear favourites to win the match but only with MarathonBet can you get an odds against price – showing the importance of comparing bookmaker odds. We are now on a run of one loss in nine in the league and despite the poor last 25 minutes at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, that sequence has instilled confidence in our side.

In particular, we are having very good first halves at the moment, as epitomised by last weekend. Since the awful opening 45 minutes against Coventry, we have only been losing at half-time twice in our last ten matches. Unfortunately we seem to struggle in the second period. The bookies have caught onto this and make us 6/4 to be winning at half-time and a ridiculously small 186/1000 in the first half double chance market.

Scott Wagstaff was back on the scoresheet last weekend and he also got our goal in the reverse fixture – which was a thunderous strike – and he is available at 10/3 to score in this one. On loan Burnley striker Martin Paterson started his first match for us and made an instant impact, scoring our opening goal. He is 7/4 to score against Vale.

PORT VALE:
Bristol City weren’t the only side to concede two late goals last weekend. Port Vale almost surrendered their 3-0 lead against Tranmere, but they beat the side from the Wirral 3-2 in the end. Manager Micky Adams was quick to lament his side’s defensive frailties, blaming the lack of coherence at the back for their failure to really challenge the play-offs this season.

They have conceded the most amount of goals away from home in the top half of League One, so we could see plenty of goals. Both teams to score is 8/13 and over 2.5 goals to be scored is slightly better value at 7/10. Three or more goals have been scored in five of the last six Vale matches and seven of the last eight City games also.

On the plus side for us as Bristol City fans, regular Vale goalkeeper Chris Neal is out so 21 year-old Sam Johnson will be between the sticks. He has made just seven career starts, keeping two clean sheets. Will the goals flow?

Of course it has to be said that this match will see the first return of Jennison Myrie-Williams. The Robins academy product only made 15 league starts for us but he looked impressive, if a little temperamental. His attitude fell foul of Gary Johnson and he was shipped out on loan to numerous sides before leaving on a free transfer. I am sure he will be desperate to prove a point and he is certainly capable of causing us problems with his pace and quick feet – as well as from set-plays. He is a best price 9/2 to score.

HEAD TO HEADS:
Believe it or not, we have never faced Port Vale in a cup competition. We are currently winning the head to heads, with 37 wins to 31. We are on an unbeaten run of six games against the Vale going back to 2004 when we suffered a 3-0 loss with big Steve Brooker netting against us – and impressing our scouts.

The last time we met at Ashton Gate, we came away with a 2-1 win thanks to Steve Brooker scoring against his former team and a strike from Super Scotty Murray. The reverse fixture ended 1-1 after a very good performance was undone by a blind Aden Flint backpass which was punished by Lee Hughes for a last minute equaliser. The 1-1 scoreline is available at a best price of 36/5 and is the most likely score according to the bookies.


MY RECOMMENDED BET:
Both teams to score @ 8/13 – BET NOW
Port Vale have conceded the most amount of goals in the top half of League One and we unfortunately know the statistic that we have kept just five clean sheets in 47 matches this season. Back both teams to score under the lights at Ashton Gate.

*All prices supplied by www.easyodds.com and prices all correct as of Mon 24th March 2014*


The Exiled Robin

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Monday, 24 March 2014

The Inside Line: Port Vale (25/03/2014)

Tuesday night sees a momentous occasion for the many fans (almost everyone?) who just love a night match down at Ashton Gate. Port Vale are the opponents who will be the last ones seen under lights by the East End as it stands, as the countdown to the end of an era begins in earnest.

As an aside to this main feature, you should note tickets are now on sale for the East End for that final game, click here to buy and support the lads for one last time, whilst recalling fond memories of days gone by:

Anyway, back to Tuesday night’s game and the trip to Staffordshire last October feels, in retrospect, like one of the more influential moments of our season. Going into the match we’d been on an improved run of form, even if results hadn’t represented that and confidence was growing steadily, when, leading 1-0 through a Scott Wagstaff goal and on course for a first win and clean sheet of the season, when Aden Flint made a dreadful mistake in the 94th minute and passed the ball straight back to Lee Hughes, who doesn’t waste that sort of chance. The set-back knocked confidence sideways again and a solitary draw was gathered from the following four matches, a run which included the quite dreadful performance at Wycombe.

If that ball hadn’t been passed back, who knows where we’d be now and what position we’d be in – but that’s football and we arrive at the renewal unbeaten in five and counting the cost of not converting pressure into goals against Swindon & Colchester – feats which would have had Steve Cotterill sniffing out March’s manager of the month award had we been more lethal (perhaps we should be grateful!). 


Stu Radnedge had this set of questions answered by Port Vale’s Media manager, Dave Johnson.

The Valiants have suffered in the results column over the last few weeks and Saturday's game versus Tranmere nearly became another to add to the list of defeats.  Losses at the hands of Crewe and Bradford, with draws against Coventry and Shrewsbury seem to have dented any ambitious hopes of promotion?
In fairness, I don’t think we had realistic promotion ambitions. What we wanted to do was to cement our place in this division and see how well we could do. On saying that, there was a time when the supporters believed we stood a chance of finishing in the play-offs and, to be fair, none of us would have turned that down if it had come along.

So, is there an expectation amongst the supporter base that Vale should be pushing further up the table or is there general contentment at how things are panning out?  How does this relate to the feeling at the beginning of the season regarding your expectations?
I think the fans have been split. Whenever you start to do well, the expectations rise and people start believing that the seemingly impossible could happen. At the start of the season we just wanted to try to stay in League One and in recent weeks, after one or two poor results the majority have returned to thinking sensibly.

Who has been the star performer for you this season, and why?
That is a difficult question because at varying times, different players have impressed. Our ‘keeper, Chris Neal, has been impressive ever since he joined the club in the summer of 2012, but of course he was stretchered off on Saturday and will not play at Ashton Gate. Other who have impressed include Carl Dickinson and Doug Loft.

With the end of the season drawing nearer, do you think there will be some players who will be hard to keep at Vale Park over the summer? Who would you like to see come in?
I have no doubt that some of our players may be off to pastures new, especially with so many out of contract and the fact that the budget for next season is to be cut. Not sure who I would like to see come in realistically, but we have two loan players with us now, Jack Grimmer and Billy Knott, who I would love to see signed up.

City's form has been somewhat sporadic over this season – but are five unbeaten and seemingly pulling clear of relegation trouble.  Is Tuesday night a good time to play City?
Not at all. Every player I have spoken to at Port Vale says what a good side Bristol City are and I have to admit, I was impressed with them here at Vale Park earlier in the season. Put it this way, if you offered me a point now, I would take it.

Who do you see causing us the most problems and who do we have that will provide you with issues for consideration?
Maybe Tom Pope could cause you a few problems as he works his socks off and knows where the goal is. You have several players who are more than capable of causing Vale problems, especially up front. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed we don’t return home empty-handed.


My thanks to Dave and Stu for this insight, let’s hope his fears are in fact realised and we can continue our pull away from trouble!

COYR!


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Thursday, 20 March 2014

Doug Harman interview

A couple of weeks ago my Dad spotted an article in the relatively niche but hugely informative Sunday Independent, a Plymouth-based Sunday newspaper that has spread its wings as far north as Bristol and contains an excellent sporting pull-out each week, with comprehensive coverage of all the local teams.

In this article, Richard Latham interviewed the lesser-spotted Doug Harman – City’s Chief Executive and one of the Board members I was critical of earlier in the season for not being publicly supportive enough of the club’s policies/management – about financial fair play and the club’s financial prudence policy.

Here was the result, which the Sunday Independent have kindly given me permission to share with you online, to reach a greater audience.


“Doug Harman insists the days of Bristol City’s wage bill spiralling beyond their means are over and that the club is firmly on course to significantly reduce annual losses.


While the chief executive admits that Steve Lansdown’s continued backing is vital to turning things around, he stresses that major savings brought about by unloading players on big contracts have also helped meet the demands of the new Salary Cost Management Protocol Rules.


Those rules, outlined below, make League One clubs subject to sanctions if they spend more than 60 per cent of their turnover on ‘player-related expenditure’ during a financial year.


Harman admits that a year ago in the Championship, City’s player expenditure was 144 per cent of their turnover. Now, thanks to the latest injection of cash from Lansdown and a drastic reduction in the wage-bill, the figure has plunged to 45 per cent.


Having been critical in this column of the poor financial management, which has seen City lose £57 million in five years, I asked Harman a series of questions aimed at discovering the current position.

His answers were honest and informative.

 
How much has the vast reduction in the percentage figure of player expenditure compared to turnover been due to Steve Lansdown’s vast injections of cash?

It was during our last financial year that Steve effectively injected £40 million worth of new equity into the club in exchange for wiping out the same figure in debt, which had built up to him through director’s loans.

Because it was a swap of equity for debt, it did not count towards our turnover as far as the new rules are concerned.

In the current financial year, however, he has made a further equity injection of £5 million, which does count as relevant turnover. This, linked with our efforts over the last 18 months to reduce the player wage-bill by moving on expensive players and recruiting ones on far less money, has brought about the very significant reduction in the ratio of expenditure to turnover.

 
Is there a set date by which you have to meet the criteria of the Salary Cost Management Protocol Rules?
Yes, with all the Financial Fair Play rules, you have to do what amounts to an interim test halfway through your financial year. You have to produce accounts that show a snapshot of your position and that has already been done. Any club not meeting the requirements at that time are counselled about what needs to be done and the consequences of not doing it by the end of the year. But at 45 per cent we are inside the restrictions by a significant margin.



Salary Cost Management Protocol Rules
League One clubs must spend no more than 60 per cent of their relevant turnover on player-related expenditure. Relevant turnover includes TV payments, prizemoney, season ticket income and gate receipts, net money received from transfers, donations and injections of money in equity form.  


Player-related expenditure excludes the wages of any players under the age of 20 on July 1 last year.  Accommodation costs, player appearance and bonus payments and signing-on fees are also exempt.


Steve Lansdown has said himself that he wants Bristol City to function as a business independently of his money. How far along the road are the club to achieving that?
We are not naïve enough to think we can make a profit as a club given our current League status.

We know that we are going to need Steve’s help going forward and that will be forthcoming with the purchase of more equity, rather than any more loans.

Having said that, we recognise that we need to try our level best to get the club to operate professionally as a business, within the budgets that we set, and that is already having an effect.
 
Do plans for the summer necessarily involve more cutbacks or will the manager have the necessary financial backing to significantly strengthen the squad?
As a board, we have always tried to support the manager of the time and Steve Lansdown, as owner, has also done his best in this respect. That will continue.

Exactly how much money will be made available has yet to be decided, but we are not happy being in League One and want to develop the team with fresh players. That said, it has to be done in a prudent way.

 
Are the days over in which Bristol City pay £10,000 a week plus to individual players?
Financial prudence at our level at this moment in time means that we have to pay reasonable wages, not wages that are beyond our means.

It’s how we manage the budget that is put in place, which is important. We might be able to afford a £10,000-a-week player – but certainly not a whole team of them - providing that is supported by signing less expensive ones.

 
One of the components of the board’s Five Pillars strategy was that the signing of players aged over 24 would become the exception. Why has that been abandoned?

The principle hasn’t changed and recruiting young players is still very much part of the plan. But at times you have to adjust as befits the circumstances.

Steve Cotterill told us that he needed a bit more experience than was available to him and that is why we have invested in a few older players. Given our position in the League One table, we felt it necessary.

 
How big a disaster would relegation for a second successive season be?

We are not thinking about relegation. It is not something we sit around the boardroom table and discuss because we think we have the right manager to keep us in League One and believe we will be in a stronger position at the end of the season that we are now.
 
Are annual losses  £11-14 million a year consigned to the history books?
Yes, I believe they are. The business will be run on a more prudent basis going forward. Inevitably more losses will be incurred, particularly when we remember that Ashton Gate is a tired old stadium overdue the redevelopment work that is planned.

With that work will come commercial opportunities that drive revenue streams we have only been dreaming about.

Prudent player recruitment, combined with increased revenue, will ensure that profitability is more managed than it has been of late.

Initially we would like to get the annual loss below £10 million, but when you are dealing with playing contracts of two or three years it does take time.


Thanks again to the Sunday Independent and to Richard Latham, for the interview.


I personally thought the questions were challenging and to the point, with the answers given perhaps a touch predictable, but answered nonetheless.  One of the major questions I had a few months back was surrounding the pillars and principles, and the response given was expected – we were in a position which required experience – and the summer will be a far more telling period as to the seriousness as to which the board hold these values.

There is also a strong hint that we won’t be afraid to spend money in the summer to support a promotion attempt – ambitious you may say right now – but clearly that has to be the aim, if not next season, then the next.  If I have a slight worry it’s that he’s not ruling out paying big money for the big name. In my mind this is one of the major issues we’ve had these past few years, ‘superstar’ players ruining the team ethic and causing unrest in the stands as soon as their performances drop below that elevated status.

However, comfort can be drawn from the statement that any investment made by Steve Lansdown will be in the form of equity rather than further, debt-increasing loans.  This point is especially poignant when you consider Harman is effectively telling us this year’s debt will be £10m again – despite all the cost-cutting measures. Paying off managers (and coaching staff) each season is undoubtedly contributing, whilst the likes of Neil Kilkenny and James Wilson are probably still having payments made in lieu of what they were owed for the full length of their contract.

No board should be totally unaccountable, and whilst ultimately they all report into Steve Lansdown, the fans should feel the right to look with interest as to what happens this summer, if…once…survival is assured.  If the movements in the summer are following the pattern adopted by Sean O’Driscoll in the summer just gone, then it’s fair to say the Board have been true to their word.  If a series of 27-32 year-old’s on two or three-year, relatively lucrative contracts are recruited, we have every right to question the Board on anything they tell us in the future.


For now I’m prepared to see this season out and see what happens. Over to you, Doug & Co.


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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Bookies Corner: Colchester v City

In a brand new feature for The Exiled Robin, lifelong Bristol City fan and easyodds.com football tipster Ross Casey will preview Bristol City’s upcoming matches from a betting angle.  I can’t always promise he’ll give you a ‘totally’ unbiased view, but where does he think your money should be going on Saturday?!


City go into their League One clash with Colchester on Saturday with both sides on 42 points. Colchester are now 17th - a single place behind us, with an exact same goal difference (minus 5) although the U’s do have a game in hand.

Both teams are still certainly in the relegation fight along with probably eight other teams. Ten don’t go into four, and there are sure to be many twists and turns between now and the end of the season – the result here will play a huge part for both teams.

City are now a best price 15/1 for relegation, whilst Colchester are 8/1 to go down – showing the bookies know that Steve Cotterill is a winner!

MATCH ODDS
COLCHESTER – 19/10
BRISTOL CITY – 8/5
DRAW – 23/10

COLCHESTER:
Colchester have lost six of their last 10 games – a poor run of results which improved with Tuesday night’s 1-0 victory over relegation bound Shrewsbury. They are made underdogs for Saturday – despite home advantage – with the bookies making them a best price 19/10.

They have struggled for goals at home this season, scoring just 22 in 19 on home soil. Their best hope of a goal is probably Jabo Ibehre, who is top scorer this year for Colchester, with seven league goals. He is a best price 15/8 to net against us. Someone with probably an extra incentive to score is Freddie Sears. The ‘scorer’ of THAT phantom goal for Crystal Palace back in 2009, he was robbed of his goal after the linesman adjudged it to have hit the advertising board, not the back of the net. It sent his then manager Neil Warnock into a fit of rage, much to the pleasure of those in red at Ashton Gate. The former West Ham youngster is 5/2 to score at anytime.

Another interesting statistic about Colchester this season is the fact they tend to be involved in matches where both teams DO NOT score. Both teams have found the target in just six of the last 17 matches involving the Essex side. Both teams not to score is a best price 6/5 – a decent shout considering we now have THE WALL that is Nyron Nosworthy in the heart of our defence!

BRISTOL CITY:
You may find it odd that we are favourites to win the match when considering we have won just four of our 18 league matches away from home, but such is our form, that it actually probably makes sense.

We are on a run of just one loss in our last eight league games and we’ve conceded just one goal since the loss of Aden Flint and Adam El-Abd through injury and suspension. In classic OTIB mood swing terms – that’s promotion form! We are a best price 5/2 to keep a clean sheet for the second match in a row - something we have managed just once this season.

Scoring goals away from home hasn’t been a problem (we have netted 28 away from home this season) and only five sides have managed more in League One. Sam Baldock scored against Colchester in the reverse fixture and he is favourite to score with the bookies at 7/5. Baldock has now scored 18 goals and is joint second top scorer behind Peterborough’s Britt Assombalonga on 19. The City captain is 9/2 to be crowned League One top scorer – which would surely help his price tag if he is to leave this summer.

HEAD TO HEADS:
Our last meeting ended in a 1-1 draw at Ashton Gate – a soft goal from Matthew Taylor who has now returned to Bradford after his loan ended - was met by a positive response from the Robins. A heap of second half pressure meant we managed to win 15 corners in all, but were unable to profit beyond a Sam Baldock equaliser.

We have never played at the Weston Homes Community Stadium – our last visit to Colchester was at the undesirably compact Layer Road, where we won a Championship game 2-1 thanks to goals from Dele Adebola and Michael McIndoe back in 2008. Despite the late red card to Bradley Orr for a second booking we managed to hold onto the lead. Spookily enough, this followed a 1-1 draw at home earlier in the season – in a match where Ivan Sproule scored! Seven goals in 67 starts isn’t such a great record – but he was bloody fast wasn’t he? A 2-1 City win on Saturday would complete the symmetry and is available at a best price of 10/1.


MY RECOMMENDED BET
Bristol City to win @ 8/5 – BET NOW
With Scott Wagstaff and Stephen Pearson returning, we have also made the decent signings of Nyron Nosworthy and Martin Paterson. Add to that the fact that Adam El Abd is suspended, and I am confident enough to stick my neck out on an away win on our very first visit to the Weston Homes Community Stadium at a best price of 8/5.


*All prices supplied by easyodds.com and prices all correct as of Weds 19th March 2014*


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Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Inside Line: Shrewsbury Town (08/03/2014)

City follow up their fan-inspired and crucial win against Gillingham with what, on paper, looks like a winnable trip to Shrewsbury. Unfortunately the Gay Meadow is no more and City will trot out onto the pitch at the Greenhous Meadow Stadium knowing that a win could give them crucial breathing space in their seemingly endless battle against the drop.

The town that has given Britain the likes of Sir Charles Darwin, Percy Thrower and Joe Hart has rarely had much to shout about on the football pitch, but they have won the Welsh Cup on six occasions.

Stu Radnedge spoke to Jason Griffiths, who you can follow here on Twitter @Jason2Salop, to find out what lies ahead for Steve Cotterill’s Robins on Saturday.

As we edge towards the time in the season where dreams come true and nightmares are realised, we find both our teams fighting against the drop.  Is this a fair reflection of circumstances for Salop (Shrewsbury's nickname) during this season?
Following the end of the last campaign where we had managed to survive our first season back in the third tier for 15 years, optimism was high in the county town. Then, slowly, as the beginning of the season beckoned, the realisation of the lack of resources available at the club became more apparent.

As the season has progressed this theme has continued; endless loan signings proving below par and unwilling to work hard for a club they have no ties to has led us to this current position.  Throughout the campaign you could argue ifs and buts all day long of dropped points and missed opportunities.

However the realistic point is, our team has not been good enough from before the first game and this has been proven numerous times home and away throughout the season. A club that went 34 games unbeaten at home in all competitions, including the whole season of the 11/12 promotion campaign, is now unable to win a game at home. (Notts County on the 23rd of November was the last one in case you were wandering).

Have there been any instances over the last 33 games (they have a game in hand over City who have played 34) which have surprised you?  I would love to sit here and tell you tales of an exciting season and ‘surprise’ events as you put it, but quite simply our season has been bland, leading to pathetic attendances both home and away.

Perhaps Curtis Main’s (a loanee) miss from a yard out against bitter rivals Wolverhampton earlier on the season.

Or maybe Liam McAlianden’s miss (another loanee) against bitter rivals Port Vale.

Or maybe Tom Eaves’ miss (yet another loanee) against bitter rivals Walsall.

I think you get the picture here. Games in which we could have won, missed opportunities by players with no link to our club and the end result, three defeats.

Was Graham Turner's resignation at the end of January this year something that should have happened sooner?
Graham Turner, or as he is known to many, including myself, ‘The Messiah’…I was sad to see his departure. 35 years in management was ended due to poor form and poor results. As the pressure built and more fans turned against the club legend in the end, he had no choice but to step down. I was of the opinion then, and perhaps still am, that change at that stage of the campaign could do more harm than good. But as they say, there’s no room for sentiment in football, so out went the greatest manager this club has ever had.

Upon reflection Jacko (Michael Jackson) has been working hard under Turner’s wing for a few years now and deserves his chance. Young, ambitious, ruthless and willing to shake things up, he’s proven a point in the games he’s taken charge of so far. Results are thin on the ground, as they were under Turner, but we have to put our faith in him now and back him all the way.

With not that many matches left to go - how do you predict the season will transpire? Will you do enough to beat the drop?
Predicting the league one table come the end of the season is something only a fool would do. Just a short few weeks ago, when I hopped on the train up to Sheffield from my university residence in Worcester, we were above United in the league. A run of 4 or 5 good results has seen them up into mid table. Who is to say Salop or City could not produce something similar?

In my opinion any 4 of 12 teams could go down, it just depends which set of players want it more and are willing to fight for the club and the fans they represent. I hope we survive, travelling the country to some of the stadia in this division is certainly a treat compared to the places we visited for endless years in the fourth tier. However I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love standing on a terrace on a freezing winter’s afternoon in places such as Accrington! Whatever happens, after all is said and done, the fans are what remains, and I give you my word whatever league we’re playing in I’ll be there with my fellow loyal Salopians, cheering them on until the bitter end!

Your last match of the season away to Gillingham could prove to be a crucial decider. If the worst was to happen what would you say went wrong this year?
Yep. Gillingham away. Fancy dress that’ll be!  I’ve been running through in my mind what that day will be like if we are to sink back down. If it comes to that game, then it comes to that game. I’d love to be safe before then, but given our current position if it’s in our hands on that last day then I’ll be happy.

What went wrong this season happened before the season even started. Lack of funds available and lack of quality players brought in. We have some quality players amongst our ranks, but unfortunately a goal scorer is not amongst them. Those are the ones that cost the big bucks, the big bucks we simply do not have!

The 'derby' against Wolves is imminent. A result there could catapult you up the league and give you momentum for future success. Do you think it can happen?
How did I know you would ask about this?! 28 years since we last spent a league campaign alongside the yams yams and we’ve been waiting for one ever since. The game back at the meadow could (should) have easily been a Salopian win; a missed sitter and a diabolical late penalty decision left bragging rights with our much larger, richer and better-known neighbours.

Would a win against Wolves be enough to inspire our survival? Who knows, but I’ll tell you this, if we do win at Molineux it will be the single greatest day of my life. Wolves fans have laughed at us for many a year, but now they’re on a par with us, they laugh no more. They’ll probably win, quite comfortably in fact. They’re top of the table, we’re at the bottom. But the fact they are playing the same tier football as us minnows from Shropshire, puts a smile on my face every time I think about it. Give me the choice, relegation or a win away at Wolves? Bring on Newport County next season!

Which players should City fans should be fearful of on Saturday?
You shouldn't have anything to worry about my friend. Yes, we’re three games unbeaten (incredible I know) but in all honesty we haven't got the creativity going forward or firepower to cause problems for any defence in this league. If anyone can inspire the Town, it’ll be our little winger Jon Taylor. The other one to look out for is 20 year old youth team product Ryan Woods at right back. Neither of these two will be with us next year, the vultures are circling!

If given three words to describe City - what would you choose and why?
In all honesty, ’I don't know’. Similar league position to ourselves, scratching around for points like ourselves. I'd be a liar if I said I knew if you were stronger in defence or attack. All I know is, this is a game between two teams fighting for their league one survival. Anything could happen.

Can I get a score prediction please?
Seeing as we’re both in desperate need if the points, sods law dictates that it’s a goalless draw, benefitting neither side and we both get relegated!

Sorry if my responses paint a depressing and dismal picture compared to the optimism I showed earlier on in the season, but this is what it’s like to be Shrewsbury Town fan.


My thanks to Stu and to Jason.

Well, the countdown is very much on – let’s hope we don’t go out with a whimper like last season.

COYR!


The Exiled Robin

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