Town:Chris Weale,Tamika Mkandawire (c), Joe Jacobson (Goldson, 45), Dave Winfield, Ryan Woods, Adam Reach, Nicky Wroe, Aaron Wildig, Cristian Lopez (McAlinden, 73), Tom Bradshaw (Summerfield, 87), Jon Taylor
Substitutes:Joe Anyon, Darren Jones, Dave McAllister, Paul Parry
Sheffield United:George Long, Aidy White, Harry Maguire, Matt Hill, Ryan Flynn (McGinn, 78), Michael Doyle (c), Lyle Taylor, Neil Collins (Brandy, 46), Marlon King (Miller, 63), Simon Lappin, Tony McMahon
Substitutes:Mark Howard, Jose Baxter, Florent Cuvelier, Conor Coady
Assistants:Steve Copeland & Keith Lawson
Fourth Official:Steven Rushton
Attendance:6,226 (1,206 from Sheffield)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Joe Jacobson’s sensational volley set Shrewsbury Town on their way to inflicting a first defeat for Sheffield United under their new boss, Nigel Clough. Substitute Liam McAlinden sealed the victory moments after coming on and the visitors’ afternoon was compounded in misery, when they were reduced to 10 men after a red mist moment brought a red card moment for Fabian Brandy.
Town made two changes to the side for the visit of resurgent United. Adam Reach and Cristian Lopez replaced Paul Parry and McAlinden after the single goal defeat for Graham Turner’s men at Brentford last week.
It was a bright but blustery day at the Greenhous with a decent crowd in - swelled by the travelling hoards from Sheffield who were assembled behind the goal their team were defending.
Town ought to have scored after just three minutes with the wind playing a huge part in proceedings. Chris Weale’s clearance from a pass back soared over the Blades’ defence and Lopez headed beyond the stranded George Long, but saw the ball bounce just inches wide of the left hand post. It was a glorious chance for the Spaniard who should have been celebrating a second goal in as many home games following the header he plundered against Colchester at the same stage of the match.
Aidy White fired wide from a decent position on the edge of the box for the visitors with Marlon King’s hold-up play very much a feature in the opening 10 minutes. At the other end Jon Taylor ghosted in behind the Sheffield defence but possibly got distracted by the sun as he waited for Jacobson’s free-kick to drop, and as a consequence he failed to connect with the ball which ran harmlessly behind for a goal-kick.
Despite the sunshine, the rain was intermittent and it was bitterly cold with hats, gloves and scarves the order of the day amongst the 6,226 spectators. With 33 minutes on the watch though, they’d seen little in the way of goalscoring opportunities with neither keeper yet to see any action since that superb chance for Lopez half an hour earlier. Lyle Taylor put a speculative effort wide from King’s cross – the player, not the train station – and the fans weren’t getting much chance to warm their hands with even an occasional round of applause.
But after 39 minutes, three sides of this ground rose to acclaim a truly memorable goal. Jacobson volleyed the ball with such ferocity that it almost removed the blue and amber netting from the upright goal supports. It fairly flew into the top corner from all of 35 yards for a goal totally out of keeping with much of what had gone before it.
The first league goal this season from outside the area – Shrews were the only team in the Football League without one before today - was enough to give Town a half time advantage, although Jacobson limped gingerly out of the action to be replaced by Connor Goldson in first half stoppage time.
Half Time: Town 1 Sheffield United 0
Clough made a change at the break with the soon to be red-faced and red-carded Brandy, replacing Neil Collins. Ryan Woods was slotting in at left-back for Salop with Goldson operating on the right after that late change before half-time.
Tony McMahon tested Weale for the first time in the opening minute with a wind-assisted drive from 25 yards but the Town stopper watched it all the way and was able to pat the ball down for a routine save. Then White’s cross fizzed across the 6 yard line evading everyone as United continued to set the pace early doors. The sustained spell of pressure brought their 1200 travelling contingent to life for the first time in the game and it looked like we had the semblance of a football match on our hands finally.
Jacobson’s goal had certainly lit the blue touch paper and I wouldn’t expect it to be bettered this season. For me, it was the best goal seen on this ground since it opened six years ago.
United’s task became more difficult on 57 minutes and it was all of their own making. Shaun Miller was ready to come on from the bench but fellow sub Brandy was to end his 12 minutes of action with a moment of madness. Brandy lashed out at Goldson in sheer frustration and left the ref with no option but to produce the red. Off trotted the foolish number 19 and back to the bench went the unfortunate Miller. Clough waited six more minutes before finally pitching Miller in for the barely seen King with the numerical advantage – in more ways than one – still held by the home side.
Miller’s lunge 10 minutes later, again on Goldson, almost saw a second red for the second sub but this time the colour of card was a shade lighter. McAlinden’s introduction for Lopez immediately followed with the Yorkshiremen still struggling to find a way through a resolute Town back four.
Clough sent on former Shrews loanee Stephen McGinn for Ryan Flynn but Town went straight up the other end in a classic breakaway to make it two-nil with 11 minutes left. Goldson ran into acres before intelligently laying the ball off for McAlinden and he took one touch before finding the top corner with his left foot. The howling wind swirled around the Meadow and the rains lashed down but no-one sat in the home sections would have felt a single drop.
Weale denied Miller a goal which might have made the last few minutes a little more tense and Turner brought Tom Bradshaw to the sidelines to shore up the midfield with Luke Summerfield thrown into the mix in a bid to preserve the clean sheet. It worked a treat and Salop easily saw out the four additional minutes to bank a fine three points and keep the Blades in trouble.
Full Time: Town 2 Sheffield United 0