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Match Preview – Shrewsbury Town vs Cheltenham Town: EFL League One Matchday One

It is that time again. EFL football returns this weekend and the anticipation is never higher. Once again, I shall be travelling up and down the country watching the highs and lows of Cheltenham Town, as they once again look to defy the odds and prove everyone wrong and stay in EFL League One for a record-fourth consecutive season. First up for the Robins, an away game at the Croud Meadow as they take on Shrewsbury Town – a team who this summer have gone on their own rebuild mission, following the departure of ex-Robins boss Steve Cotterill. Fans have dubbed this game “The Mickey Moore” derby – more on that in a bit.


Shrewsbury Town start off this new season undergoing some key changes, not just on the football pitch but also off the pitch. Micky Moore was appointed as Director of Football having left – yes, you guessed it – Cheltenham, and his work got underway almost straight away. The shock departure of Steve Cotterill was a major surprise, in particularly given the fact that he had guided the Salop to 12th last season – their highest finish at League One level since they finished third during the 2017/18 campaign. What was even more surprising was the appointment of Matt Taylor as Cotterill’s replacement. Taylor, who was sacked by League Two side Walsall after just nine months in charge in February 2022, and interestingly enough was the other candidate in the running alongside Wade Elliott at Cheltenham before Wade was handed the job.

Nevertheless, Salop’s raid of Cheltenham continued this summer – they appointed first-team coach Marcus Bignot to be Taylor’s assistant manager, whilst video recruitment analyst Tom Ware also left Cheltenham this summer to become the Shrews’ new Head of Recruitment. Taylor Perry, who was on-loan at Cheltenham from Wolves for the past-two seasons, signed for the Salop on a free transfer this summer to add fuel to the fire – and they also announced their away kit which you guessed it – is red and white.

This is where the “Micky Moore” derby tagline comes from. Despite what’s gone on this summer between the two sides, Shrewsbury still have key players at their disposal. The likes of Ryan Bowman and Daniel Udoh, returning from injury, will look to cause the Robins backline problems whilst former Oxford and Sheffield Wednesday defender Chey Dunkley is a rock-solid centre half, who likes to chip in with a goal or two. However, the loss of captain Luke Leahy to fellow League One side Wycombe Wanderers is a blow, but the permanent signing of ex-Robins midfielder Carl Winchester from Sunderland will add a creative spark in midfield.


From a Cheltenham perspective, it is an exciting time. Coming off the back of two highly successful campaigns where we defied all odds and recorded our two-ever highest EFL league finishes in our history shows the progress that the Robins have made. Wade Elliott has proven himself as a manager at this level, and now gets to put a further imprint on his squad with is own players to match his style of play. The loss of Alfie May to Charlton Athletic is a massive loss but one which most Cheltenham fans knew was coming. He leaves for pastures new as a club legend, our record EFL goalscorer and arguably the best ever player to wear the shirt.

Despite May’s departure, Cheltenham’s summer transfers have been nothing short of outstanding so far in my opinion. The permanent capture of former loanee goalkeeper Luke Southwood has been one of the best League One signings this summer, whilst the club have invested in experience with Wade’s former Birmingham City teammate Curtis Davies and former Wycombe Wanderers midfielder Curtis Thompson all bringing their wealth of football to the Completely-Suzuki stadium ahead of the current campaign. Rob Street is a signing to watch out for, joining permanently on a three-year deal after a decent loan spell last season – at Shrewsbury.

Liam Smith replaces the outbound Ryan Jackson at right wing-back whilst the loan signing of Nottingham Forest midfielder Oli Hammond provides competition for James Olayinka and Dan Adshead in the attacking midfield role, Hammond scored 12 times and recorded six assists in PL2 last season.

With a decent summer window so far and the Robins on an upward trajectory – it could be a fun season.


For me personally it will be a close game. New signings will be integrating into the way Wade wants to play, and Curtis Davies is suspended tomorrow due to his red card for Derby County against Sheffield Wednesday so has to wait to make his Robins bow. It is also a new era for the Salop, with Matt Taylor wanting to make a big impression for his first game as a League One manager.

Tactically, Wade will line up with his usual 5-3-2 system which you could also look at as a 3-4-2-1 with the real intrigue being as to who starts next to Aidan Keena in attack for the Robins -new signing Street against his former club or George Lloyd, a striker who has a point to prove after a very good half-season spell away at Grimsby Town.

For Shrewsbury, fans will be eager to see Taylor’s first matchday squad as the new man – will Taylor Perry get his first start for his new club against his old loan club?

I do think however Cheltenham will edge it 2-1 – having won both games against the Shrews last season.

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