MORE SHREWS REPORTS AND REACTION
SHIRTLIFF CALLS FOR MORE RESILIENCE IN DEFENCE
EVENING POST, 07 August 2006
Peter Shirtliff bemoaned his Mansfield side's poor defending at set pieces in a game he felt was there for the taking.
The Stags secured a 2-2 draw at Gay Meadow with strikes from Matt Hamshaw and Simon Brown.
But the Mansfield manager was not satisfied with a point, believing his team should have taken three.
"I am not happy with the two goals we conceded which were both poor goals from our point of view from set plays," said Shirtliff.
"We should be doing better than that because they were two free headers and that is not good enough. The players know that too and they let themselves down.
"I think we will score goals this season and we have shown that we can do it today. We just have to show more resilience and defensive qualities.
"We had a word at half-time and it was better in the second half and we probably had the better chances to win it.
"But their players made some good blocks and got their bodies in the way and their keeper made a couple of good saves too."
Shirtliff rated his team's performance at six out of ten and is adamant his troops can improve. "We can play better than that and I know that there is more to come," he said.
"The goals we scored in the first half were well worked and I was very pleased with them.
"In the second half we had a very good spell but we didn't score. We have to make sure in future that we score while we are on top.
"I think we did some things that surprised me a little bit that we haven't done in pre-season . We looked a bit nervous at times and I haven't seen that before. But they are all things we can work on and we have to ensure we try to get the right result against MK Dons as the games come thick and fast."
Shirtliff was impressed with the contribution of his new-look wide formation of Michael Boulding on the left and Matt Hamshaw down the right.
"Both lads did well in their first game and I thought Michael in particular showed what a threat he can be with his pace and movement," he said.
Giles Coke and Simon Brown were taken off in the second half with tomorrow night's game with Milton Keynes Dons in mind.
Coke picked up a knock to his ankle while Brown suffered cramp in his hamstring/knee area, but both are expected to be fit for selection.
STAGS UNHAPPY WITH DRAW
EVENING POST, 07 August 2006
Shrewsbury 2 - 2 Mansfield Town
LOOKING at the demeanour of Peter Shirtliff as he walked up to the back of the Main Stand at Gay Meadow to conduct his post-match interviews, it would have been easy to believe that Mansfield had lost their opening game of the campaign.
But it is perhaps an indication of the expectation the boss has of his squad that his pained expression and loping strides were because the Stags had drawn rather than lost.
On the face of it, a 2-2 draw away from home first up can never be a bad outcome. But Shirtliff was frustrated because he knows his side are capable of much more.
Clearly his feelings were shared by his players who were equally adamant the three points had been there for the taking. Both Matt Hamshaw and substitute Adam Birchall insisted no one in the camp was happy with the point.
That high bar of expectation - which is shared by the supporters after an encouraging, unbeaten, run of pre-season games - can only be a good thing.
If the Stags are to harbour serious ambitions of earning at least a play-off place, then they are going to have to improve on what was a poor away record last season.
No team is going to control every game away from their home ground, but to figure near the top, you have to take your opportunities when they arise. And, this in the minds of the Mansfield staff, was one such opportunity.
Such an attitude shows there will be no settling for second best in Shirtliff's first full season. No pats on the back and then putting the feet up.
The focus this year seems set on steady improvement and a determination to avoid any kind of complacency.
In the Stags' last appearance at Gay Meadow - before the Shrews move home to a new 10,000 capacity stadium for next season - the potential of a team featuring all four major summer signings in Johnny Mullins, Carl Muggleton, Michael Boulding and Hamshaw was there for all to see.
Going forward, Mansfield played some excellent, attacking football where their passing looked sharp and incisive.
With Michael Boulding's pace causing problems down the left flank and Hamshaw's ability to deliver probing crosses from the other, it looks as if strikers Richard Barker and Simon Brown are likely to enjoy a prolific goal-scoring season should they both stay fit.
Both the visitors' goals were well-constructed and carved open the Shrewsbury back-line with ease. And they were not the only time they forced a sharp intake of breath from the home fans.
But defensively - particularly from set pieces - the Stags were, by the manager's admission, a shambles at times.
Not only did the two Shrewbury goals come from right-wing corners, the best of the hosts' other openings came from aerial balls into the box following dead ball situations.
Eradicating such a problem could be the difference between a top five and a mid-table finish - as Shirtliff well knows. But it is certainly something which needs addressing with urgency as Shrewsbury are by no means going to be the last team to pump high balls into the Mansfield box and see how they cope.
It was Gary Peters' side who enjoyed much the better start, but Mansfield snatched the opening goal with a swift break that caught Shrewsbury on the hop.
A neat flick by Brown set Boulding motoring down the left and he drilled the ball low across the face of the six yard box.
Keeper Ryan Esson tried to cut out the danger but could only get a hand to it, leaving Hamshaw to snap up a debut goal by sliding in at full stretch to guide the ball into an unguarded goal.
But the lead was fleeting as the Shrews equalised in the 22nd minute when Stewart Drummond headed home Ben Davies' right-wing corner.
The Stags did not learn their lesson and more poor marking gave the home side a 2-1 advantage as Dave Edwards found room to power home Neil Sorvel's cross after a short corner on the same side.
But Mansfield did not let their heads drop and kept going to get level again before the break.
After Carl Muggleton had saved well to prevent Edwards putting Shrewsbury 3-1 in front, an intricate move culminated in Jonathan D'Laryea's pass setting Barker free.
He took his time before drawing Esson and then squaring to Brown who won the race to the ball to slide into goal from close range.
In the second half both sides had their moments with Alex John-Baptiste twice making goal-line clearances while substitute Stephen Dawson was thwarted by a fine stop from Esson.
Nevertheless, the point does set Mansfield up for their two home games this week with the visit of MK Dons tomorrow night and Stockport on Saturday.
And it is after those fixtures that onlookers will have a better idea if the Stags have the ability to match their pre-season promise.
HAPPY WITH A POINT
GARY Peters was content that his Shrewsbury side had managed to claim a point against a Mansfield side who he believes have the best front two in League Two.
The Shrewsbury boss was worried that Richard Barker and Simon Brown would cause havoc at Gay Meadow.
And though the latter did get on the score sheet, he was pleased his side claimed a share of the spoils.
"They are a dangerous side going forward, especially their front two with the supply line they get from their wingers.
"It was a concern before the game but we coped reasonably well. I thought we might have had a case for their second goal being offside.
"But we caused them problems too and I thought our execution in attacking set-piece situations was particularly good."
Shrewsbury: Esson, Ashton, Hope, Burton, Hall, Herd (Asamoah 71), Drummond, Sorvel, Davies, Langmead (Symes 79), Edwards. Subs not used: Williams, Cowan, MacKenzie.
Mansfield: Muggleton, Jelleyman, John-Baptiste, Hjelde, Mullins, Boulding, D'Laryea, Coke (Dawson 60), Hamshaw, Barker, Brown (Birchall 73). Subs not used: White, Buxton, Beardsley.
Referee: G. Salisbury (Lancashire).
Shrewsbury: Drummond (22), Edwards (31).
Mansfield: Hamshaw (17), Brown (43).
Shrewsbury Town 2(2) - (2)2 Mansfield Town
By Anthony Thomas
On a hot and humid day Shrewsbury Town began their last season at Gay Meadow by sharing four goals with Mansfield Town in a decent opening to the new campaign.
Shrewsbury Town 2(2) - (2)2 Mansfield Town - By Ant Thomas
Gary Peters surprised a few fans by resisting the opportunity to give a full debut to new signings Derek Asamoah or Michael Symes, electing instead to push Dave Edwards up front to partner Kelvin Langmead; Ben Herd started on the right wing.
The First Half
Both sides started brightly although in the opening exchanges clear cut chances were few and far between. For Salop David Edwards headed just wide while at the other end Michael Boulding fired into the side netting from a tight angle.
But it was the Stags who took the lead just after quarter of an hour had passed. Michael Boulding found himself free on the left flank and he fired in an excellent low cross which found the grateful Matty Hamshaw at the back post to tap home.
The home supporters may have worried that the goal would have knocked the stuffing out of their side but instead it fashioned a good response and within five minutes Salop were level. Ben Davies' cross found Stewart Drummond nine yards out he lept to head home for his first goal for the Shropshire club.
And it got better for Gary Peters and his team just after the half hour mark. Another corner, another Ben Davies delivery and this time make-shift striker Dave Edwards found himself unmarked six yards out giving him the simple task of heading home.
After a slow start Shrewsbury were now well in the ascendancy and could have gone further ahead when Edwards found himself free in the area and attempted to chip the 'keeper only to see Muggleton pull off a fine save to deny him.
Yet the game took another twist just before the break when Mansfield levelled. Richie Barker broke free down the left-wing and although goalkeeper Ryan Esson got his hand to Barker's effort the fall fell to Simon Brown who tapped home. Manager Gary Peters was disappointed with the goal, annoyed that it was proven to be offside upon replays.
Half-Time: Shrewsbury 2-2 Mansfield
It was always unlikely that the second forty-five minutes would live up to the first, however both sides will point to chances to win the game and consider themselves unfortunate not to have claimed all three points.
Kelvin Langmead was first to fire just over when he somehow bundled his way past three defenders before hitting a left-footed shot just over.
Next David Edwards broke through on goal but 'keeper Mugleton was out quickly but his clearance only fell to Ben Davies who hit a curling effort towards the goal only to see it cleared off the line by the covering Stags defence.
But as the second period drew on it was the away side who grew with confidence and finished the tie much the stronger.
Summer signing, goalkeeper Ryan Esson, had to be on his toes to finely push away a strike from Steve Dawson. Soon after Sagi Burton had to be at his best to produce an acrobatic block from another low drive from the Stags.
Mansfield forced several more corners but Town were holding firm just as their opponents were at the other end.
Late on Salop introduced recent signings Derek Asamoah and Michael Symes to the fray but while both made impressive debuts, the scores remained level.
Full-Time: Shrewsbury Town 2 - 2 Mansfield Town
All in all a decent opening day of the season for these two sides who both harbour aspirations of being in the play-off shake up come next May. Both teams will have felt they did enough at different points throughout the tie to claim victory but ultimately a draw was a fair result.