SALFORD welcome Shrewsbury their FA Cup first round replay on Wednesday night and lower-league lover Gab Sutton (@_FootbalLab) shares his thoughts on the fixture.
Salford v Shrewsbury | Wednesday 21st November 2018, 19:45 | BT Sport
After a 1-1 draw at the New Meadow earlier this month, National League Salford and League One Shrewsbury meet once again in this FA Cup replay.
The prize on offer is a second round date with Scunthorpe and, by extension, the possibility of an attractive, money-spinning third round clash.
Who will prevail?
Salford’s strong attack
Graham Alexander’s side are looking strong in the National League where, as expected in pre-season, they have quickly established themselves as prime title contenders.
After Saturday’s 4-0 drubbing of Aldershot, the Ammies are one point off leaders Leyton Orient, level on points with third-placed Wrexham and three above Solihull Moors in fourth.
The latter are their hosts on Saturday in a weekend that sees the top four go head-to-head, so Salford need to be competitive on multiple fronts.
Their recent home form has been mixed; as well as the Aldershot result, they required a 93rd-minute Rory Gaffney equalizer to avoid defeat against relegation-threatened Braintree, then were held 1-1 by bottom half side Ebbsfleet.
In Gaffney, Danny Lloyd and Saturday’s hat-trick hero Adam Rooney, though, they possess three forwards who can cause problems.
Rooney is the division’s top scorer with 15 goals, Gaffney is a selfless runner while Lloyd offers creativity from wide areas.
If there were to be one criticism of their squad however, it would be that, on paper at least, they do not have a midfield that possesses the nous to exert control against League One opposition.
The Shrewsbury team that drew 1-1 in the initial tie to boos at full-time could be very different to the one that takes to the field at Moor Lane on Wednesday night.
Many fans had been calling for the departure of John Askey as manager and, having since been granted their wish, have created an atmosphere of belief and positivity.
Salopians are fully behind caretaker manager Danny Coyne and assistant Eric Ramsey; both are respected by the players, who produced a very strong performance in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Rochdale.
The midfield diamond worked a treat: Anthony Grant held things together at the base, Josh Laurent triggered the press at the tip, while wide midfielders Oliver Norburn and Greg Docherty did a lot of tenacious defensive work yet also had the desire to break forward in transition.
The quartet provide a nice blend of energy, flexibility and dynamism.
They will be ably supported by right-back Josh Emmanuel, a very athletic performer on loan from Ipswich and left-back Omar Beckles, who can make some clever inverted runs into the final third which fifth-tier opposition might not be used to dealing with.
Okenabirhie to strike?
In Fejiri Okenabirhie, Shrewsbury have potentially an excellent forward on their hands.
The man who signed from Dagenham in the summer is quick, two-footed and exciting to watch. Crucially, he always shows a willingness press high, work tirelessly and support his teammates – and he doesn’t let the odd miss affect him.
The quality of Okenabirhie’s shooting from outside the box leaves some room for improvement, but the 22-year-old’s persistence means he has a higher volume of efforts than strikers who do not possess the same determination.
He should, therefore, be right at home against National League opposition and we like Betway’s 14/5 on Okenabirhie to score for a second game running.
The betting angle
Our best bet is William Hill’s 9/2 on Shrewsbury to win with a -1 handicap, an unusual price on a team two divisions above their opponents.
Salop showed on Saturday that they can be a very effective counter-attacking side and, if they have the lead in the second half, they should profit from the extra space in behind.
For Salford, the taming of the Shrews will not be an easy task.
Salford v Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury to win -1 handicap (9/2 William Hill)
Salford v Shrewsbury – Fejiri Okenabirhie to score anytime (14/5 Betway)