There’s really nothing like pre-season. You get to see the new signings in the flesh, you get to feel the blind optimism of fellow fans and more often than not, you get to go to somewhere to watch football that you never normally would.
The journey to the ground was pretty eventful. Unfortunately for me and my mate, it was a forty minute walk away from the station. Seeing the state of some of our fans on the way there, I’ll be suprised if they remember the game!
Im terms of the starting XI, John Terry starting, and as captain, was the big news. I know it sounds cliche, but on the pitch he does have that aura of authority about him.
Villa started the game poorly, giving away the ball too easily on too many occasions. Ross McCormack, or as some Villa fans like to call him “big fat Ross McCormack” was getting pelters as he struggled to get involved.
In all fairness to the Scotsman, the whole team were poor going forward. The closest we came in the first 45 was when that man McCormack put Bikir Bjarnason through down the left, but the Icelandic international’s shot flew across the face of goal.
Undoubtedly, it was the Shrews who had the better of the first half. Firstly, Jon Nolan headed a deflected cross wide, before Louis Dodds dragged a shot from 20 yards after a jinking run.
Although our attack was misfiring, the backline looked relatively solid. Terry already has a couple of chants of his own, you can probably guess what they’re about!
In the second half, it was clear to see things wouldn’t get much better with the eleven men Villa had on the pitch. Whether it was pre-planned or not, the mass subsitutions on the hour mark were much needed.
Almost immediately Villa were more positive. Gabby ran round like a headless chicken as per, but he was winning free kicks and causing problems for the Shrewsbury backline.
And as a result of the striker winning a free kick, Hutton looped a header onto the roof of the net. That one delivery from Lansbury was better than anything our “set-piece specialist” Connor Hourihane could muster in the sixety minutes he was on the field.
Soon after Gary Gardener hit the post with a long range free-kick. In hindsight, this was the turning point, because minutes later Zak Jules put Town 1-0 up with a free header from a corner.
Almost instantly, Arthur Gnahnou made it two. Running across the box, the Shrews number eleven got past makeshift centre-back Alan Hutton way too easily, then preceded to bury his shot past Sam Johnstone into the bottom corner.
In fairness to Shrewsbury, they got it right today. For the most part they were defending but when they attacked they made something of it, unlike Villa.
Jordan Lyden won a penalty which Henri Lansbury buried late on, but it was to be the last kick of the game, rounding off what proved to be an underwhelming pre season performance.
Ross McCormack – He’s proven in the past he can score goals at Championship level, but with an excess of strikers and the fans on his back, is it time we cut our losses and let him go?