Shrewsbury v Pompey: The Opposition View

Shrewsbury boss Paul Hurst. Picture: Sharon Lucey
Shrewsbury boss Paul Hurst. Picture: Sharon Lucey
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Oli Hawkins celebrates his goal with Jamal Lowe. Picture: Mark Robinson

Fleetwood 1-2 Pompey: match highlights

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Everyone tipped Shrewsbury to go down at the start of the season.

It was quite funny seeing all of those predictions because people knew at this end things were improving.

On paper, it looked bleak because they’d scraped survival for two seasons

But after bringing in Paul Hurst last October you could see they were going only one way.

He has worked his way through non-league football in management at clubs further down the pyramid no-one has heard of.

So after going unbeaten for the first 15 games and being top of the league for three months, people have been left scratching their heads.

It’s been ridiculous really, but it’s been a period now where they’ve had a little stumble and the chasing pack like Blackburn, Scunthorpe and Portsmouth flying.

No-one really expects them to stay in the top two.

It’ll be phenomenal if they did end up making the play-offs after being favourites to go down. Everyone’s still in dreamland.

When losing to Bradford narrowly a couple of weeks ago, it was the first home defeat of the season – and to an unfortunate own goal.

Junior Brown’s been the regular left-back and one of the better performers.

In October, he picked up a cruciate knee injury and is done for the season.

The team were flying before Brown’s injury and there was a dip. It’s perhaps over-simplifying things to say it’s because of that issue, but it has been a factor.

Kenny Jackett was mooted for the Shrewsbury job when Hurst got the position.

Maybe it was a bit much for him to join a club like Shrewsbury after leaving a massive team like Wolves.

But he was the one the fans wanted, he appeared at the ground a few times watching games and was in the running with the bookies.

There has been talk about Hurst going elsewhere.

He was linked with Rotherham, where he spent his whole career as a player.

The other one which came about was Sunderland, when his side were top of the table and Simon Grayson lost his job. The club said there was no approach.

Hurst has a job to do and I do think he will see out the season with Shrewsbury.

In terms of players, Jon Nolan has stood out – a silky midfielder and excellent passer of the ball. He’s been linked with a move to the Championship with Norwich and the club may do well to keep him in January. Top scorer is Stef Payne with nine goals, while keeper Dean Henderson has impressed on loan from Manchester United.