Weekend Wanderings: Can Shrewsbury Town stay top?, Is Aspin the right man for Port Vale?

With eyes on the final round of World Cup qualifiers, Alasdair Hooper has his attention on games closer to home.

Despite the fact it’s international week and some of the football has been far from inspiring – particularly as an England fan – there is still plenty of domestic action to get stuck into this weekend.

While the Premier League and Championship may be taking a break, League One and League Two, as well as the Women’s Super League, are still ongoing.

Here are the five things you should keep an eye out for in this edition of weekend wanderings.

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1) Will the high-flying Shrews keep it up?

Other than Manchester United and Manchester City, who are the only other team in England’s top four divisions yet to taste defeat?

That would be Shrewsbury Town, who are riding high at the top of League One on 29 points.

In October 2016, when current boss Paul Hurst was hired, the club were bottom of the table — representing a remarkable turn of fortunes as the 43-year-old approaches his first anniversary in charge.

This Saturday they face perhaps their sternest test, the away derby at Walsall.

Can Hurst’s exciting team keep up their stunning start to the season?

2) Can the managerless Gills steady the ship?

It’s been a tough time at Gillingham. The club are slumped at the wrong end of League One in the relegation zone, with just seven points.

On September 25, Ady Pennock departed as the club’s head coach with former England Under-21 and Hull boss Peter Taylor stepping in as caretaker.

The Gills are attempting to prise Steve Evans away from Mansfield but, for the time being, points are an absolute must.

They face Portsmouth on Sunday at Priestfield as they try and kick their season into gear.

3) Have Port Vale got the right man now?

At the start of last season Port Vale declared grand ambitions.

They hired Bruno Ribeiro – a friend of Jose Mourinho no less – and brought in a raft of signings to push for promotion from League One into the Championship.

The result? Terrible form led to Ribeiro resigning in December, his assistant Michael Brown took charge, but the club was soon relegated to League Two.


Brown became manager permanently in the summer, but the terrible results kept coming – at this moment in time Port Vale sit above the relegation zone on goal difference having picked up just five points.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Brown was removed from his position and, this week, Neil Aspin was hired as manager by the club he starred for between 1989-99.

The 52-year-old arrives following a two-year spell as Gateshead manager, but he will have to adapt quickly as his new team are desperately in need of a lift.

The first game on the agenda is Saturday’s home match against 15th placed Grimsby.

4) David v Goliath?

If you are on the lookout for what should be a total mismatch then this is the game for you.

Notts County – the oldest professional club in the world – are currently top of League Two with former West Ham, Bolton and Newcastle midfielder Kevin Nolan seamlessly transitioning into the world of management as their boss.

Their opponents, however, are vegan champions Forest Green Rovers, who sit bottom of the table in their first-ever venture into the Football League.

Mark Cooper’s side may have to brace themselves for a very difficult afternoon on Saturday.

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5) Can Chelsea seal another dominant victory?

Two games played, 12 goals scored.

As starts to a league campaign go, Chelsea have begun this season’s WSL 1 campaign in frightening fashion.
Emma Hayes’ Spring Series champions turned over Bristol City in their home opener 6-0, before dishing out the exact same score to Sunderland in their second match.

On Saturday, however, the Blues face a much tougher opponent as Liverpool head to Kingsmeadow.

The Reds may arrive off the back of a disappointing defeat to Reading, but possess enough quality to cause Chelsea problems.

If the home side dish out another dominant performance we might just be looking at the champions-elect.

Follow Alasdair on Twitter at @adjhooper1992

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