Jul 31, 2017
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Can Shrewsbury Town make New Meadow a fortress this season?

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After a poor 18th place finish in League One last season, Shrewsbury Town have had a pre-season which demands respect.

The Shropshire-based side have won four consecutive home friendlies in two weeks, each against Championship opposition.

During this period, Paul Hurst’s men have beaten promotion hopefuls Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers, as well as Cardiff City and Burton Albion.

Perhaps even more impressively, the League One outfit have conceded just two goals across all four matches, turning New Meadow into something of a pre-season fortress.

Good pre-season form doesn’t necessarily guarantee a good season. Despite the club’s impressive showings, Shrewsbury Town go into the 2017-18 campaign as most bookmaker’s favourites for relegation.

The question facing Hurst’s side is, can they build on their current good work when the actual season begins next week?

A third successive relegation battle is the last thing the club want this season. The best way to avoid that fate is to start the season strongly and win your home matches.

The Shrews open their campaign against Northampton Town, before facing AFC Wimbledon, Rochdale, Oxford and Gillingham.

Of their first five opponents, Oxford pose the biggest threat, but the other fixtures are winnable.

Northampton, who they face at New Meadow on Saturday, finished just two places above the club last season. Paul Hurst will know a victory over the Cobblers is just what his side need.

Making New Meadow a fortress in League One, as it has been during pre-season, would ultimately keep Shrewsbury in League One.

It is very rare that you see a side that is difficult to beat at home relegated from any division.

Whilst the loss of Adam El-Abd and Olly Lancashire will not have helped the club, who struggled defensively last season, Matt Sadler, Aristote Nsiala and Junior Brown have proven to be very useful players.

During pre-season they have displayed they are able to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Ruben Neves, Kenneth Zohore and Ross McCormack, which should give Shrewbury fans hope.

If Hurst can make Shrewsbury difficult to break down this term, which they’ve proven they can be, relegation fears will soon fade.

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Shrewsbury Town
Philip Marsh

Philip is a Computer Science graduate with a Masters in Journalism. He supports his home-town club Cardiff City but enjoys watching any game he can. You can find Philip on Twitter @PhilipTSMarsh.

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