Jack Ross on Sunderland's away challenges as Shrewsbury prepare for biggest crowd of the season

Shrewsbury Town are set to record their highest attendence of the season when Sunderland make the trip to Shropshire this weekend.

Friday, 19th October 2018, 5:53 pm
Updated Friday, 19th October 2018, 6:13 pm
Sunderland manager Jack Ross.
Sunderland manager Jack Ross.

The Black Cats have sold out their 1,600 allocation, and the crowd at New Meadow is expected to top the 8,000 mark.

Shrewsbury's highest attendance this season is 7,625, against Bradford on the opening day, while just 4,353 saw their last home game against Accrington Stanley.

The Shrews manager John Askey has urged his side to treat the Sunderland game "as a cup final", while defender Omar Beckles is relishing the 'big occasion'.

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Jack Ross has heard it all before, and believes his side are getting better against opponents who see Sunderland as their biggest game of the season.

"There are other big clubs in this league, who will take big away followings, Portsmouth and Barnsley but we do face it every time we go away from home," said Ross in his pre-match press conference.

"Countless times this season home fans come out in bigger numbers and really back the home team, Bradford had close to 20k in the stadium, a home support that even when they were a goal down responded to the challenge.

"We are getting better at it and realising that challenge is there and responding to it, every single game has a buzz about it."

The Shrews have won just one of their last five league games, following a defeat at Fleetwood last time out.

That result saw Askey's side drop to 17th in the table, while midfielder Josh Laurent said his side lacked fight.

Even so, Askey hopes a meeting with the Black Cats will inspire his players to raise their games.

"As a player this is why you play football, for games like tomorrow," said Askey.

“I’ll see who can handle it and who can’t. We hope that playing in front of a big crowd makes players play better.

“They’re expected to go back up, if they don’t it’ll be a surprise.

“It shows the gap between the Championship and League One. We’ve got to treat it as a cup final."

Beckles, too, admitted his side weren't good enough against Fleetwood.

The 26-year-old defeder has been a regular in The Shrews' backline, and believes this weekend's clash could be a turning point in their season.

"It’s not a game I’m worrying about,” said Beckles. “It was like that for us last season - with that kind of underdog role.

“I think naturally the lads will get themselves up for it. It’s a big occasion – they have sold out their section, so you know it’s going to be a ledge atmosphere.

“I’m expecting it to be a really good game. I think it’s natural for lads at this level to want to prove themselves and Sunderland are probably the biggest scalp in the league.

“It’s going to be tough for Sunderland where ever they go – there is going to be players wanting to prove a point.”