Fortress Home Park, what a place. A bastion of footballing excellence for those in green. Despite going one down, Schumacher again worked his magic from the bench with inspired substitutions to seal another three points – taking us 5 points ahead of where we were at this point last season. We were top, even then, but with 16 played were now 16 points ahead of 7th; Devonian neighbours Exeter who are next up at the Theatre of Greens on Monday.
Shrewsbury’s squad hosts several good talents for the level but Cotterill appears to not know how to use them; despite them keeping us at bay for most of the game, his substitutions changed it as much in our favour as Schumacher’s.
Here’s how I felt everyone performed on Tuesday:
Michael Cooper, GK – 7
Only stopped 2 shots of note, but that’s more an indictment on Shrewsbury’s attacking play. Accurate with the ball at his feet, a huge improvement on his showing at the Memorial Ground Saturday gone. Commanded his area well and showed more sweeping than we’re used to. Maybe should have done better with the goal conceded, but I find it hard to critique ‘keepers diving when I struggle to bend over to tie my laces.
James Wilson, RCB- 6
On my MK review I wrote ‘we even saw Wilson spraying a few big-switch pingers out to Edwards for fun’, Tuesday? Not so much. Still calm and composed but opted for the easy option at every opportunity. Nothing of a criticism, just a bit boring.
Nigel Lonwijk, CCB – 6
I’d say he has the potential to become the most competent of the back three but all much of a muchness on the night. Appeared tidy in possession and played a few quality balls into the final third, appearing to balance Wilson’s safety-first approach. However, his error in communication with Grant lead to the Shrews goal.
Matt Butcher, LCB – 6
Another who’s calm on the ball but tends to work better with his back to goal opposed to the constant swivel in the middle of the pitch. I’m starting to prefer him in the back three. His versatility has been key already this season, none more so than filling the hole vacated by Scarr (whom we do miss). I’d thought he’d had a solid game, and even had some success down the left flank on a few occasions, however Galloway’s 13 minute cameo showcased what we should really be expecting in that role.
Bali Mumba, RWB – 7
Continuing his fine form this season by providing a consistent front footed threat by looking lively early doors. Completed the most dribbles of all players (4), most long range passes (3) and most fouled during the ninety. Great bit of footwork inside the box to unleash a venomous strike post-Azaz corner too.
Adam Randell, CM – 9
Initially surprised to see Randell named man of the match by both the sponsors and the supporters vote, but in hindsight (and a good viewing of the highlights) appears good call. Bounced back from his relatively poor showing at Rovers to ensure a return to his cool, calm, collected manner in the middle alongside 9 lung-busting recoveries and 3 long-range pot shots from deep. Work-rate for the equaliser shouldn’t be understated, winning the ball back on the half-way line before being tossed about by three in the Shrewsbury midfield and still finding a ball out to Whittaker.
Jordan Houghton, CM – 7
Like Randell, Houghton’s improving game-on-game in recent weeks. It’s great to see a return to a pre-MK defeat Houghton at long last. Accurate on the ball, won several duels on the deck and even had time to throw in several clearances from inside our box too.
Conor Grant, LWB – 6
How good is it to see him back gracing the turf once more? Grant slotted back into the left wing-back position he made his own last season, but didn’t bring that assured competence on the ball to which we’ve become accustomed. Pinged over a few crosses but can’t remember any of them hitting their intended target and instead handed possession to the opposition. His first start since his injury, so I’ll allow him time to re-find his feet.
Finn Azaz, ARM – 7
Replaced just before half-time after sustaining a nasty looking ankle injury – here’s hoping all’s well. Still managed to create the most chances in game, despite only clocking on for 45.
Morgan Whittaker, ALM – 9 Player of the Match
Another brilliant display from the 21 year-old who continues to add goals and assists to his season tally. Managed to tuck away Galloway’s outstanding ball with only seven minutes left on the clock after having set up Niall Ennis just thirteen minutes earlier. Sent the greens home happy. My Man Of the Match.
Ryan Hardie, ST – 4
Ah, Ryan. Feel like he’s been found out in recent outings; previously incredible at stretching defences, getting in behind and selling his famous hot dogs – all attributed that have gone missing or been nullified recently. Head down, we go again.
Niall Ennis, ALM – 8
For me, Ennis is the most competent striker currently on the books of Plymouth Argyle PLC. His recent run of form will start to keep Hardie out the picture and kick-starting yet another comeback will do him no harm. Really starting to live up to the hype that came with his signing. Had no right to squirm that ball under the ‘keeper from wide inside the 18.
Joe Edwards, RWB – 6
Captain reliable back to business, replacing Grant at half-time and sured up where needed. Schumacher working his magic again sending on three and changing the game in our favour.
Sam Cosgrove, ST – 6
I didn’t expect Cosgrove to come in and make such an impact; he’s a real threat off the bench. Appears to be up for the running and stretching defences, keeping defenders on their toes and keeping them second guessing. Shushing the away fans, with whom he had a less successful loan stint, after the second goal is brilliant shithousery.
Brendan Galloway, LB – 7
That assist. Enough said. Whipped with a raspy venom that no-one else in this side could muster, but him. What a man.