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New Year, but more of the same

Reporter: Matthew Chambers
Date online: 02 January 2014

Athletic 1, Shrewsbury 2


LIKE the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special, Athletic fans have seen all this before.

But unlike Morecambe and Wise, thus didn’t amuse one bit.

Familiarity is breeding the sort of contempt that yesterday drew jeers at the final whistle from all three sides of the ground.

To say Shrewsbury aren’t the greatest of sides is like saying Boundary Park isn’t quite finished yet.

Here, like nine sides before them in 2013-14, to the visitors’ credit they dug in against a savvy-free Athletic and prospered by a single goal.

Aaron Wildig struck the match-winner in the second half, after Jonathan Grounds had appeared to spark a revival by levelling Jon Taylor’s opener.

Lee Johnson’s side has lost four times at home this season, scoring only 10 times in the process — at a rate of only one goal per game. Whether it is tactics, injury or just rotten luck, that is clearly an epidemic of under-achievement.

The Shrews mucked in, camped out in their own half for long periods and got a dirty job done.

Athletic, on the other hand, hit all the right notes - but not necessarily in the right order.

There were plenty of chances. Korey Smith smacked a shot against the crossbar shortly before half-time, Adam Rooney’s header hit a post after the interval and David Mellor forced Chris Weale into the best of a number of excellent saves. But despite Mike Petrasso’s regular driving runs, the end product was missing.

In awful conditions, with a strong wind whipping through the vacant area where the new North Stand will be built, Athletic started with promise as they looked to build on successive draws at Sheffield United and Coventry.

Returning winger James Dayton was lively, twice hitting shots off-target, while in the middle of the field Mellor was driving forward with purpose.

Then came a goal as absurd as any sketch featuring Eric and Ernie. A loose ball was flicked over Athletic’s centre-backs, Connor Brown’s headed back-pass was way short of Mark Oxley and Taylor simply rushed in to volley home under the goalkeeper.

Athletic at least responded well and Grounds turned scoring hero to slam home a half-cleared corner — one of 14 Athletic had on the day, compared to Shrewsbury’s one.

Athletic’s approach work was not so effective after the break. Too often the ball was pumped towards the heads of Rooney and Clarke-Harris, who barely won such a challenge with their markers.

Mellor was brilliantly denied eight minutes into the second period and two minutes after that, Rooney’s header from Petrasso’s cross struck the near post.

On such moments games hinge and this one did thanks to Luke Summerfield’s midfield surge, an Old Testament-style parting of the waves in the centre of the home defence and Wildig’s neat finish after his own shot rebounded kindly back to him off an upright.

Despite sustained pressure and Petrasso’s regular rushes, a second goal was not forthcoming.

A look at the league table invites a gulp. By hook, by crook, by the boost of injured players returning or by the use of the transfer window to fetch in reinforcements, too much more of this same old sketch is not an option.

Comments

I count 6 players gone plus rachubka & tarky as potential losses.factor in the high wage of Montano & a liverpool cup tie means there should be 3 plus signings?where's the money gone because talk of 1 loan signing when we are hovering over relegation is not good enough.

no passion or buzz at the ground. Sadly LJ time is up just look at the league form.

people said wait for 15 to 20 games before you judge lj,well we are passed the 20 game mark,our last two defeats have been against Colchester,who hadn't won an away game since the first game of the season and shrewsbury who had only won one away game all season,both teams were below us until they came to boundary park.its not good enough,the crowds are going down,the team are going down.its not looking good unless a goal scorer and a couple of experienced players are brought in.

Happy New Year!! After a 75 mile trip for the home game, then a march through the quicksands of the OAFC official car park another defensive strewn defeat welcomed in the New Year. Just above the relegation zone Athletic's players seem to be on a different planet when playing at B.P. You would not recognise the defense at Sheffield & Coventry from the Shrewsbury debacle. Connor Brown is an accident on a recurring basis and his leg weary comrades watched him with horror. Liverpool here we come!

It's getting to be a bit like "Ground Hog day", being beaten by Chesterfield, meeting Liverpool in the FA cup and courting relegation. Can anyone tell the wife why I put myself through the same misery season after season? I can't .

2 POOR SIDES AND YET ANOTHER VERY POOR PERFORMANCE TO GO WITH THE REST AT HOME , NO PURPURSE TO WHAT WE DO , MIDFIELD CREATES NOTHING WITH THIS CRAB FOOTBALL FOR THE WORST NOBODYS UP FRONT WE HAVE HAD FOR YEARS , STILL A BOTTOM 6 SIDE OUR USUAL 2nd HALF STRUGGLE IS HERE AGAIN ITS PAINFULL BEING A LATICS FAN SAME AS HOPPY WE WONDER WHY WE DO IT

After twenty-odd years, 70+ league grounds and over a thousand matches things do not and are very unlikely to change i'm afraid. Apart from two or three seasons in the late eighties and one under Dowie it's always been a case of looking over our shoulders at the bottom of the table for me. So nothing new with the situation we are in for me. Best thing i did was start a family and now i have better things to do on a Saturday...oh and lots more money.

@ maxbamford, better things to do?

So why come on here and post such inane comments? The club is lucky to have a manager like LJ and is certainly better off without your fair-weather "support".

Fair weather support? If that was the case, then surely i'd be on my way to Liverpool with my flag and jesters hat right now with the rest of them. Enjoy your afternoon Worcester Owl, see you at Walsall?

 

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