SHREWSBURY Town skipper Ian Sharps has urged his side to improve their hit and miss away form to crank up their promotion bid ahead of back-to-back trips.
Town remain invincible at the Greenhous Meadow having collected 36 points from a possible 42 in front of their own supporters this season.
But, having already lost seven times on their League Two travels this term, Sharps knows that’s a record that needs to improve to enhance Town’s chances of a top three spot.
Town head to Barnet, a ground where they have never won in 11 league visits, on Saturday before a crunch promotion clash at Paolo Di Canio’s much-fancied Swindon on Tuesday (7.45pm).
Sharps said: “We can only look after ourselves and we’ve got a big game at Barnet on Saturday. We need to put our away form to bed and start producing.
“We’ve got two difficult away games coming up but we’re more than capable of winning both of them. If we go and do that it will be a big plus step in the right direction.
“It’s a matter of going there and doing the right things at the right time. You probably come under a bit more pressure away from home but we haven’t produced with the ball in the last few weeks in away games.
“We’ve defended well in patches but haven’t kept the ball well enough as a team. We gave the ball away far too much at Torquay last weekend, and we’re better than that, as we showed on Tuesday against Bristol Rovers.
“We just need to reproduce the home form in away games.”
As for the challenge likely to be posed by a Barnet side featuring the division’s top scorer in 20-goal Izale McLeod, Sharps is aware the Londoners, managed by ex-Northern Ireland boss Lawrie Sanchez, will pose tricky opposition.
He said: “We should have won there last season but they equalised with the last kick of the game.
“It’s always a difficult place to go but I’m sure they will be looking at us thinking it’s a harder game for them.
“They gave us a good game here (a stoppage time goal from Lionel Ainsworth sealed a 3-2 Town win) but we’ll go there with a good positive attitude and see what we can do.”
Sharps was delighted Town maintained their unbeaten Meadow record against Rovers in midweek and saluted the contribution of matchwinner James Collins.
“He swivelled on it really well for the goal and took it brilliantly,” said the skipper. “He’s a great player as the rest of our forwards are. When they hit a bit of form they score goals and they’re a handful in training.
“James has got a good future in the game if he gets his head down and does the right things.
“That’s what he is doing and he’s getting his just rewards for his work rate and his desire to keep the ball.”
Manager Graham Turner, who has big striker Marvin Morgan available again after suspension, added: “I saw Barnet lose at Swindon in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy area final last week.
“It was a narrow victory for Swindon and Barnet are no mugs.
“They’ve got one or two useful players, they’re well organised, and Lawrie Sanchez knows what it’s about.
“It won’t be easy going to Underhill. It’s never the best place to go with the big slope.
“But we’ve got to do better there than we’ve done in some of the away games this season.”