With Shrewsbury holding a 1-0 advantage going into Sunday's return leg in Shropshire, Alan Dudman believes Paul Hurst's men can book their place at Wembley with another victory against Charlton...
"Points and league positions tell a different story. Shrewsbury were a far superior team over the season. They scored more goals and conceded less than the Londoners both home and away, and the 16 points difference is hard evidence."
Shrewsbury Town v Charlton Athletic
Sunday 13th May, 17:15
Live on Sky Sports
Shrews hold the advantage
Having tipped and backed the draw in the first leg at The Valley, it was a bit of a kick in the teeth with Jon Nolan's winner for Shrewsbury on 80 minutes. It was a quality strike, though, and the right-footed volley inflicted the fourth defeat in 11 on Lee Bowyer as Charlton caretaker.
It was a 0-1 match where players had very little time on the ball, although credit to Paul Hurst's Shrewsbury - who didn't really allow the Londoners to settle. Those that were laying that Charlton price of [2.12] beforehand would probably have been fairly comfortable with that bet for much of the game, save for a quick start in the first ten.
Shrewsbury were [3.70] for the game, and I probably am not the only one who backed the draw who wished they had gone Draw No Bet.
The Salopians were clipped into [2.74] favourites for the Promotion market on the back of the success, with the Addicks now any sort of price you like at [8.40].
Caretaker's rookie mistake
Bowyer was a vastly experienced top flight midfielder who enjoyed a great career for a long time at some top clubs. However, I can't help but feel that he's shown his inexperience as a boss here with his post-match comments. By describing Shrewsbury as "time-wasters" on Thursday night probably wasn't his wisest move. He carried on, though.
The caretaker told his players: "I'm telling you now, you're a far better side than what they are. A far better side."
Points and league positions tell a different story. Shrewsbury were a far superior team over the season. They scored more goals and conceded less than the Londoners both home and away, and the 16 points difference is hard evidence.
My take is that Charlton undoubtedly have some very talented individual players, and many will be playing higher - higher than most of their opponents. Shrewsbury however are much more of a united team, and play just like that - a good team. Hurst recruited men who had drifted out of the game, or had gone into the non-leagues. At this level, hunger and desire far outweighs individual talent.
Hurst, who has six playoffs in nine years under his belt has played the cannier game. Almost droid-like from a Phillip K Dick novel, he has repeatedly told the media that it's 180 minutes and not 90. Even skipper Mat Sadler was at it, but it's worked.
It may be a cliche, but his team-talk is done thanks to Bowyer's comments, and Hurst has played the best cards here.
Value with the home win
I did state in my first-leg preview that I didn't fancy the Charlton price of [2.12] for that game, so backing the bigger [2.40] for a Shrewsbury win on Sunday at the Meadow is far more appealing.
The "Blue and Amber" had the second-best home defence in League One with just 17 goals conceded. Only champions Wigan conceded fewer with 11, and that to me highlights how markets price up teams on name only. Charlton didn't deserve to be that short on their record this term, but Shrewsbury have been continually rated as underdogs for the whole season - and they have been that sort of [2.40] price for home games for months.
We take the [2.40] on offer.
Charlton's best spell at The Valley came inside the first 15 minutes when they were buoyed by the big crowd, and you would expect that as a home team. At the Meadow, I can't see how the visitors can be that aggressive again, especially as the Shrews conceded just 15 first-half goals during the season - which was the joint fewest in the EFL alongside Championship winners Wolves.
Unders too short to back?
We landed the punt on the Unders on Thursday, but the usual price expectancy for this bet has disappeared. Checking the market on Friday evening, the Under 2. 5 was chalked up at [1.55]. Whilst it's a bet I like, I cannot have the price. And I don't like getting stung at silly odds anyway.
It's over my remit of [1.80].
The [2.60] for Under 1.5 Goals is again a little shorter than I would like for that bet, so with both being on the skinny side, I would rather play the 0-0 or 1-0 on the Correct Score.
Tempers could flare on Sunday
One bet I rarely ever get involved in, and I cannot remember the last time I mentioned one in this League One hotseat, and that's the Sending Off? market.
There were some absolutely crunching tackles at The Valley - mostly from Shrewsbury players. Carlton Morris was reckless in the first-half with a late off-the-ground number, whilst Charlton winger Stephy Mavididi certainly caught some flak down the left-hand side.
Add to that, some of the comments from Bowyer on the time-wasting, so there could be a bit of bad blood the longer the game goes against the Londoners.
See what sort of price you can snaffle for a sending off.
Back Shrewsbury Town to beat Charlton Athletic @ [2.40]