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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Big Match Preview

League Two
Shrewsbury Town vs. Burton Albion
Saturday August 8, 15:00, The New Meadow

With just 59 years of history behind them, Burton Albion are used to feeling like the new boys. However, when they step out to face Shrewsbury on Saturday, the Staffordshire club really will be, as they make their debut appearance in the Football League.

For chairman Ben Robinson and the Brewers fans, it's the culmination of a long-held dream to bring professional football to this part of the West Midlands. Of course, the architect on the pitch, Nigel Clough, left to join Derby before Albion cemented promotion as Conference Champions in April.

And indeed, it was Clough's departure which signalled a downturn in fortunes that saw a once mammoth 18-point lead at the top of the table reduced to just three on the final day. Had Cambridge United managed to beat Altrincham, and scored a few on route, Burton probably wouldn't be here.

As it is, the U's didn't, and it is the team from the Pirelli Stadium who begin their first campaign as a full-time club as part of English football's elite 92. However, after such a collapse in the second half of last season, they won't be approaching the new season with any kind of the momentum usually associated with promoted teams.

It makes the step into the unknown all the more difficult for new boss Paul Peschisolido. The former Derby, Birmingham, and Sheffield United striker (amongst others) is taking his first steps into management with Burton, and is the first Canadian to manage in the Football League.

He's looked to experience to strengthen his side over the summer - the likes of Marc Edworthy, Paul Boertien, and Richard Walker have all joined the Albion ranks. A tough first season is predicted, and it all starts this weekend.

Burton begin their Football League journey in Shropshire

Their opponents are Shrewsbury Town. Salop, under the guidance of former Preston boss Paul Simpson, lost in the play-off final to Gillingham last season. Over the summer they've also lost key striker Grant Holt to Norwich, and the likes of full back Darren Moss and midfielder Ben Davies have also left for pastures new.

However, Simpson has money to strengthen, and has already brought in Brentford forward Nathan Elder this past week. More signings are likely to be brought into the Shropshire outfit before the transfer windows shuts at the end of the month.

Even with the weakening of the Town squad though, Burton have a tough assignment on their hands. Shrewsbury enjoyed the best home record in League Two last season, and the New Meadow is a difficult place for sides to go and pick up a result.

However, perhaps Burton's best chance is to catch the home side cold on the opening day. There will be a large following for the visitors, and you imagine the players will be energised on the club's big day to ensure they at least get a point.

Conference winners tend to at least get something from their Football League debut, and I forsee Burton will pick up a useful point at Shrewsbury as they begin the next chapter in their history.

Nobes' Prediction: Shrewsbury Town 1 Burton Albion 1

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