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High-flying Shrews look to regain top of the league spot against mid-table Pirates

By George Sanders

Despite drawing their previous two fixtures, early-pace setters Shrewsbury Town are second place in the League One table, only trailing leaders Wigan on goal difference.

The visitors, 13th placed Bristol Rovers make the 130 mile trip to New Meadow on the back of a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to promotion chasing Oxford United. No team has managed to take three points from the Shrews at home this season.

Nevertheless, what may give The Gas confidence is their ability to score goals. Bristol are the fourth top scoring team in the league, a surprising stat considering their goal difference of -1.

On the other side of the pitch, Paul Hurst’s Shrewsbury side scored 19 goals this season, thanks in large part to impressive goal scorer Stefan Payne. The 26 year-old has scored six league goals while maintaining his shots on target to an astounding 86%. The Shrews did extremely well to sign the 6ft 2 striker from Barnsley in August and the front man is certain to cause problems.

The Rovers will be forced to do without their top scorer Billy Bodin due to injury which may slightly hinder their ability to score goals freely. In spite of this, the Pirates’ fullback Joe Partington believes his side still have enough fire-power: “It’s up to other people to possibly be the Billy Bodin because he does such an amazing job for the team with all of his assists and goals. But the quality of our players – they can all do that. I have no problem with any of them stepping up and doing that job.”

If Bristol City can harness their full potential going forward, they could make a big statement to their top six rivals with a victory against a Shrews side that have emphatically defied expectations so far this season.


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