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In the latest of his regular columns Hillary Street-Ender takes a look back at last night's FA Cup First Round Replay defeat to near-rivals Shrewsbury Town, and shares his views on what was a below-par Saddlers performance, along with his concerns about our over-reliance on top-scorer Tom Bradshaw.
In the latest of his regular columns Hillary Street-Ender takes a look back at last night's FA Cup First Round Replay defeat to near-rivals Shrewsbury Town, and shares his views on what was a below-par Saddlers performance, along with his concerns about our over-reliance on top-scorer Tom Bradshaw.

We travelled to Greenhous Meadow in a reasonably hopeful frame of mind, having come from behind twice in the original game and having performed pretty well against Peterborough on Saturday. We’ve been assured that our away day yips are now a thing of the past and tonight’s spirited-but-limited opponents ply their trade in a lower division, at least for the time being, so we really ought to progress to round two if we can just apply ourselves properly to the task in hand. Young Bradders wasn’t available for the Posh game and our lack of a cutting edge in his absence was there for anyone to see so it, perhaps, doesn’t bode well for this replay that we’re having to do without him again. I’d love to see Deano try the lad out alongside Manset to see if the big man/small man combination could be made to work for us. Okay, they wouldn’t be Toshack and Keegan but it’s got to be worth a try, hasn’t it? However, we again go with a lone striker with a man backing up and stick with the blueprint that’s been the root of our success so far. After all it’s worked so well up to this point that there’d be no point in meddling with a proven formula. Records will show that the Shrews achieved a one-nil win in this game and I might have to keep checking just to be absolutely sure that our lads did actually turn up as there was precious little to back up that impression out on the pitch.

On the odd occasion we managed to get forward the ball failed to stick up front, sometimes due to poor play from Manset and sometimes due to wasteful passing and a general lack of creative ideas, the Bradshaw-shaped hole up front being so obvious that it almost goes without saying. We may have more success with big Mathieu if he could acquire a working knowledge of how to remain onside and if he’d run straight at a defence occasionally. With a physique like that he really ought to be dominating whoever is designated to mark him but, I suppose, if he was that type of domineering centre-forward he’d be unlikely to be at our level. Shrewsbury dominate in mid-field and there are times when the ball seems to be coming back at us every few seconds although this is possibly exacerbated by what seems a curious reluctance for us to attack down the left wing. Taylor is seldom used when utilising him to go take the ball forward would surely have added much more width to our play and stretched the Shrews central line right across the pitch. As it was they were able to win the central battle by restricting it to two thirds of the width of the field of play. Whatever might have been said during the break apparently made precious little difference and what had seemed an inevitable opening goal for the home side came less than ten minutes into the second half when the ball reached Lawrence around the edge of the area from where he blasted home the sort of goal fit to win any game. Most fans can appreciate a bit of brilliance wherever it comes from but that appreciation always sticks in the throat a bit when your team is on the wrong end of it. I admit I applauded the goal. Just not very loudly. I’m terribly sorry. Shortly after the breaking of the deadlock came our first on-target goal attempt when Sawyers – who I’d been impressed with in recent games – aimed a weak header straight at Leutwiler who’d probably been thinking he wouldn’t need to put his gloves through the wash until after their next game. Our best chance of the evening had been and gone before this when, immediately after the interval, Cook played in a low pass from out wide to Forde who failed to make contact with his side-foot attempt from six yards with the kind of fresh air shot seen on any primary school playground any day of the week. Just as we were realising that a route to Wembley was to be denied us for another year and just as we were thinking that the evening couldn't possibly plumb darker depths came an incident that will probably leave us without our captain for the next three games. Chambers challenged for a loose ball, going in one-footed – albeit in a lunging manner - and won the ball only for the referee – Mr Bean, going on his performance over the game as a whole – to deem the challenge worthy of a straight red card, much to our amazement. It was a daft type of challenge to make but seemed just about fair and the club has already said it’ll be appealing the decision.

This was a dreadful, toothless performance and I wasn't one of those who applauded the players from the pitch after they’d served up such a dog’s dinner. Once again we were beaten by a team who didn't have to be particularly good to be better than us. Our reliance on Bradshaw is of scary proportions particularly when there’s the possibility of his hamstring trouble continuing to recur and there’s no getting away from the fact that we look a bottom four side without him.

There’s no pressure, young Tom…..

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