Darren Moore’s side go into the game at the New Meadow 13 points ahead of Town but will travel to Shropshire without the services of former Shrews striker Fejiri Okenabirhie, who was red-carded in the Gills defeat.
Shrewsbury, managed by Sam Ricketts, hit the headlines last month when they held Liverpool to a 2-2 draw in the FA Cup fourth round but haven’t won in League One since before Christmas.
We’ve asked Lewis Cox, sports writer at the Shropshire Star, for the lowdown on the Shrews ahead of tomorrow’s clash.
How do you assess Shrewsbury's season so far, particularly in relation to hopes for the campaign?
Town won their last game in League One two months ago (Friday) and it's been a difficult run since - fantastic FA Cup memories aside. After that win on December 21 they were 11th, one point off the play-offs, and things looked very rosy. Since they have been stung by a busy period consisting of Cup replays and rescheduled games. Their squad has felt the pinch and clean sheets in the league have also dried up (none in 10-game winless run). Expectations were to improve on last season's finish of 18th as Sam Ricketts managed to assemble a decent squad at Montgomery Waters Meadow. Town are second-lowest scorers in the league, one better off than Bolton.
What would represent success between now and May?
A few wins and some goals would begin to get tiresome fans back on board. A finish of around 11th-14th would be deemed reasonably successful, given that Shrews have mostly spent their recent time in the third tier battling relegation.
His red card last week has denied Fejiri Okenabirhie the chance of a quick return to Shrewsbury. How would he have been received and what was the reaction to his sale?
He would have been received very well, he is very fondly thought of at Shrewsbury and fans were largely unhappy with his departure - despite a failure to find the net regularly this term. Okenabirhie would have been desperate to prove Ricketts wrong on Saturday and will undoubtedly be gutted at missing the clash, particularly as ex-players love scoring against Shrews (see Niall Ennis last month) -or there is Jon Taylor...
What system and style of play does Sam Ricketts favour?
He started this season in a 3-5-2 but has switched to 3-4-3 over time which has proved slightly more offensive. The three centre-backs are solid as are the wing-backs but they are very much defensive-minded and therefore lack that spark you might want from wing-backs. Fans have grown frustrated when the side drops to a back five. Ricketts likes to see the ball shifted across the park to create space for joy in attack.
Who are the players to watch out for?
Conor McAleny has done well since checking in on loan from Fleetwood last month. He plays on the left of a front three or in the No.10 and is still looking for his first Town goal. Striker Daniel Udoh, signed from non-league neighbours AFC Telford last summer, has improved in recent weeks.