Barnsley 1 Shrewsbury 2: Clark returns to grab Oakwell winner

Tykes manager Lee Johnson.
Tykes manager Lee Johnson.
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HOYLAND lad Jordan Clark enjoyed a dream return to Oakwell, netting a dramatic winner deep in stoppage time to stun his former club.

Clark’s deflected strike flew past Adam Davies to secure the Shrews’ first three points of the campaign and ensure the perfect Oakwell return for Micky Mellon.

The Scot, who had a spell as caretaker manager of the Reds in late 2013 following the axing of David Flitcroft and left his role as number two to Danny Wilson in March 2014, was up on his feet with the rest of his ecstatic bench when Clark fired home at the death.

In the final analysis, Barnsley could have too many complaints, certainly following a very disappointing second-half.

it was a stop-start day for the hosts with Lee Johnson’s side playing catch-up after a poor concession on six minutes.

Under pressure following a corner from former Barnsley midfielder Liam Lawrence, Davies’s meek attempts to punch clear after the ball veered towards goal off Marc Roberts only proceeded to divert the ball into his own net, with another ex-Oakwell player in Jordan Clark in close attendance.

Thankfully, the Reds dusted themselves down with Marley Watkins and Dan Crowley going close before Sam Winnall levelled with a real striker’s goal on 38 minutes, with his third goal of the campaign.

But the Reds failed to kick on in a poor second-half, with Davies atoning for his earlier poor error by making a fine save in the final ten minutes to deny sub Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro a winner.

But he was helpless to prevent Clark’s winner.

Barnsley made four changes to the side who won at Scunthorpe United in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in midweek, with Davies, Roberts, Conor Hourihane and Ben Pearson restored to the starting line-up - with Nick Townsend, Joe Rothwell, George Smith and Kadeem Harris reverting to the bench.

The Shrews’ line-up included ex Reds’ players Liam Lawrence, who skippered the visitors and Hoyland-lad Jordan Clark.

The Shropshire outfit were making their first visit to Oakwell since April 1989 and made the early running with Tyrone Barnett firing an effort across goal and Abu Ogogo heading over from Lawrence’s corner.

At the other end, a first-time angled shot from Hourihane drifted not too far wide before the Shrews guilded a promising start with an opener.

The visitors benefitted thanks to some fitful keeping from Davies, who flapped badly in trying to punch clear under pressure from Clark after Roberts’ diverted Lawrence’s dangerous corner towards goal - with the home custodian only proceeding to direct his attempt over the line.

Hourihane cleared but after consultation between referee Stuart Attwell and one of his assistants, a goal was given, with there being not too many home protests.

It was a blow for the Reds, but gradually they built up a head of steam after the unfortunate development.

Dan Crowley and Hourihane fired efforts off target before the Shrews suffered a setback when the limping James Wesolowski couldn’t continue after feeling the effects of a challenge, with deadline-day loanee Larnell Cole coming on for his debut.

A timely block from ex-Middlesbrough player Jayson Leutwiler then denied Marley Watkins, who had cut inside a defender after a lovely crossfield pass from Hourihane and fired in a shot from ten yards.

Roberts fired over before a snapshot from the lively Crowley hit the post.

The Shrews goal continued to lead a charmed life, with Watkins going desperately close to a leveller, but his point-blank effort at the near post cleared in the nick of time by a combination of Leutwiler and Ellis.

The pressure eventually told on 38 minutes with Winnall latching onto a perceptive pass from Watkins, splendidly turning Jermaine Grandison before firing a clinical right-footed low shot past Leutwiler from twenty yards out to equalise in style.

Just before the break, Ben Pearson was cautioned for a heavy challenge on Junior Brown.

On the restart, Barnsley had the lions’ share of the early pressure, but it was the Shrews who carved out the best opportunity with a low shot from Clark from distance not too far away before Brown cut inside on the left before firing a curling effort over.

It provided encouragement to Shrewsbury, with Barnsley starting to look a little disjointed after being on top for most of the first half after their early scare.

A scrappy period of play certainly suited the visitors more than the Reds and despite some neat enough effort stuff in midfield from the hosts, moves started to break down with increasing regularity in the final third.

Kadeem Harris and new signing Smith were thrown into the fray with twenty minutes left to pep up the hosts, who spurned a chance on 77 minutes when Sam Winnall rose highest following Josh Scowen’s inswinging corner, but he could not keep his header down.

Moments later, blocks from Lawrence and Nathaniel Knight-Percival denied first Harris and then Scowen as the hosts’ stirred into belated life, attacking the Pontefract Road end.

At the other end, substitute Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro benefitted from a riccochet off Scowen but his effort was wild and flew wide.

The replacement then went somewhat closer nine minutes from time with his point-blank header saved superbly by Davies after a fine cross from fellow substitute Mat Sadler.

Lawrence then fired a 25-yarder off target as the Shrews started to scent a late winner, with Barnsley struggling for cohesion at the other end.

Clark then went close with an effort with the outside of his foot late on, but had his dream moment in stoppage time with his low shot diverted in.

Barnsley: Davies; Wabara, Roberts, Mawson, Nyatanga, Watkins, Scowen, Pearson, Hourihane (M Smith 71); Crowley (Harris 70); Winnall. Substitutes unused: Townsend, Rothwell, G Smith, Bree, Jackson.

Shrewsbury Town: Leutwiler; Ellis, Grandison; Knight-Percival; Tootle, Wesolowski (Cole 16), Lawrence, Clark, Ogogo, Brown (Sadler 66); Barnett (Akpa-Akpro 77). Substitutes unused: Halstead, Collins,, Whalley, McAlinden.

Referee: S Attwell (Warwickshire).

Attendance: 8,630 (437 Shrewsbury supporters).

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