Tim Stoodley looks ahead to Tuesday night's fixture with Shrewsbury Town.
Peterborough United will be hoping Cupid sprinkles some play-off loving over The ABAX Stadium as they prepare to square-up to Shropshire outfit Shrewsbury Town this Tuesday evening at 7.45pm.
The Shrews are unremarkable in their league position of 17th, but remarkable in terms of the their recent form - unbeaten in their last six games, including a fantastic 1-0 shutout away to promotion chasing Scunthorpe at the weekend.
Paul Hirsts' side are brimming with confidence and face Posh at a make-or-break time in the campaign. Shrewsbury are five points from safety but have a solid back-line. Scoring goals has been their issue but they're backing up their defensive outlook with a new vigour and on 2017 form alone they would be nestled in the top three. They favour a traditional 4-4-2, using a regular starting 11. They are a good mix of experience and youth and although they've hit muddy ground in the opening half of the campaign, The Shrews have more than enough about them to stay up. Expect them to defend in numbers against 'Boro. They'll look to break quickly and like most visitors to The ABAX, they'll generally favour a counter-attack.
Leading the attacking line for The Shrews is young Tyler Roberts, who is enjoying a productive time on loan from West Brom this campaign. The wonder kid is a welsh under-21 international and even boasts a Premiership cap for his home club. He has formed a useful partnership with fellow striker Freddie Ladapo, and the pair have cemented a tidy partnership, one which is worth a credible five goals - not bad for a side with one of the worst attacking records in the league.
Versatile midfielder Junior Brown has spent more minutes on the pitch than any other player for Shrewsbury this campaign. Happy at left-back on in the centre of the park, he's a useful utility player who brings an air of composure and calm as an anchor in the middle. He's also been deployed as a winger on a couple of occasions this term and is the clubs joint top assist maker. Another ever-present in The Shrews kit this season is Swiss-born Canadian goalkeeper, Jayson Leutwiler. An international player for Switzerland at youth level and having represented Canada are senior level, he's a genuine talent who takes great pride in his command of his area. He's a stunning 6ft 5" and is a real physical presence at the back for Shrewsbury and the Posh forward players will need to be at their best given Leutwiler's recent form, which has seen him concede just four goals in the last seven games.
Shrewsbury gaffer Paul Hirst is in the early days of his stay at New Meadow. Tuesdays game will be just his 21st for the club, but bearing in mind the club were in the relegation places at his arrival, his 45% win-rate is a fantastic achievement in the time he's been in charge. Hirst spent the first part of his career as a joint manager with Rob Scott at three different clubs, before taking the plunge on a solo career with Grimsby Town. A reign which saw him win the national league play-offs and finish runner up in the FA Trophy.
Carl Boyeson takes charge of this tie. He returns to The ABAX for the first time since October 2015, when he oversaw Peterborough's 5-3 demolition of Millwall, with no Poshies seeing yellow that day. More recently, and he took charge of Shrewsbury's 2-0 win over Oxford back in November last year. He's averaged 3 and a half cautions in the 25 games he's taken charge of this season, and has dished out red three times, including last weekend as he dismissed AFC Wimbledon's Tom Elliott in a fiery match-up against Charlton Athletic.
This duo did battle back in September when the sides met in the Shropshire capital. The game finished 1-1 with Gwion Edwards opening the scoring before an Ian Black goal levelled proceedings. Ryan Tafazolli also saw red in that game. Overall and these two sides cannot be separated. They've done battle on 49 previous occasions with both sides boasting 16 wins. The clubs have only ever met outside of the league once, and that was back in 1959 when Posh beat The Shrews 4-3 in the FA Cup.
Jack Baldwin and Chris Forrester look to continue their return to fitness ahead of this one. Harry Anderson, Jermaine Anderson and Michael Bostwick are all out. With the games coming thick-and-fast over the next three weeks, you might see rotation from Grant McCann in this game. Don't be surprised to see the likes of Samuelson, Inman and Angol all feature at some point.
McCann is realistic about this one but conscious of a potential upturn in form. "We know that a win on Tuesday night will mean it is six points from nine available in the first 10 days or so in February and that for me would be a decent start to the month, but we know that it will be difficult because they will arrive full of confidence. There wasn't a lot in the game against Sheffield United and it was disappointing to concede so late, but I couldn't ask for any more in terms of effort and commitment and that needs to be on show on Tuesday evening. The fans really got behind us on Saturday and it was a good atmosphere and we need them from now until the end of the campaign, starting on Tuesday evening against Shrewsbury at the ABAX Stadium."
League positions; Peterborough United - 9th Shrewsbury Town - 19th
Last five; Peterborough United - WLLWL Shrewsbury Town - WWDWW
Previous meeting; 27/09/2016 (League One) - Shrewsbury Town 1-1 Peterborough United
Average attendances (2015/16); Peterborough United - 5,447 Shrewsbury Twon - 5,481
Top Scorer (league); Peterborough United - Gwion Edwards, Marcus Maddison & Tom Nichols (7) Shrewsbury Town - Louis Dodds (5)
Interesting fact: Shrewsbury Town is a breeding place for future managers, with several big-named gaffers all having playing stints at The Shrews. The likes of David Moyes, Nigel Pearson, Gordon Lee, David Platt and Gary Megson all represented the club before becoming big names in the field of management.
Posh have launched a 'two for £20' offer to celebrate Valentine's day ahead of this game. Two adult tickets can be purchased for just £20 for any area of the stadium (excluding hospitality areas). Furthermore, season ticket holders can bring along a friend (or a lover) for just £5! There's also a number of amazing hospitality offers available for this one, as the club looks to cater for loved-up Poshies.
Tickets are on sale at www.theposhtickets.com, via the Ticketmaster hotline 0844 847 1934* and in person at the ABAX Stadium Box Office.
*calls cost 7ppm plus your network access fee.