Town:Jayson Leutwiler, Matt Tootle, Jermaine Grandison, Mark Ellis, Nat Knight-Percival, Abu Ogogo, Junior Brown (Mat Sadler, 67), Tyrone Barnett (Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, 77), Liam Lawrence (c), James Wesolowski (Larnell Cole, 16), Jordan Clark
Subs not used: Mark Halstead (GK), Shaun Whalley, Liam McAlinden, James Collins
Barnsley:Adam Davies, Reece Wabara, Marc Roberts, Lewin Nyatanga, Alfie Mawson (c), Marley Watkins, Josh Scowen, Dan Crowley (Kadeem Harris, 71), Conor Hourihane (Michael Smith, 72), Ben Pearson, Sam Whinall
Subs not used:Nick Townsend (GK), Joe Rothwell, George Smith, James Bree, Simeon Jackson
Assistants:D. Plowright & P. Hobday
Fourth Official:D. Strain
Attendance:8,630 (437 from Shrewsbury)
Martin Wild reports from Oakwell
Jordan Clark bagged a sensational deflected winner in added on time against Barnsley this afternoon. They had taken an early lead which had been cancelled out by Sam Winnall’s goal before half-time. And despite the blow of another injury to James Wesolowski, the game ended on the highest of high’s, to give Town their first SKY Bet League One win of the campaign and preserve their unbeaten away record.
There were two changes to the Town team which beat Oldham in midweek, with Matt Tootle returning to the defence and Liam Lawrence back to lead the side out at Oakwell. Liam McAlinden had to be content with a place on the bench where he was joined by new loan capture, Larnell Cole, and Sam Patterson - after an encouraging debut against the Latics - had to miss out on a jersey this time.
Town started brightly playing a 3-5-2 with Clark operating just off Tyrone Barnett. In the first couple of minutes Barnett dragged an effort wide, Wesolowski’s goalbound pot-shot was blocked and Abu Ogogo headed over from Lawrence’s corner after Tootle had got into a great position to win the award.
Barnsley’s Conor Hourihane was a yard wide in a really promising opening and just past the five minute marker Shrews went ahead. Barnsley conceded another corner and the home defenders in a congested area failed to deal with the initial header. Keeper Adam Davies joined in the kamikaze show and somehow the ball squirmed over the line with the assistant on the near touchline flagging furiously to indicate the goal. To the bewilderment of all in the pressbox, Salop had the lead and not one of the journos had a clue between them who’d scored – this one included! One of the hacks walked all the way down to the Town bench who were also none the wiser, before another concluded it was James Collins who had netted for Town – smart work considering he was sat amongst the subs!
As the confusion continued, Shrewsbury suffered a real blow soon after with Wesolowski trooping off to be replaced by Cole. The midfielder looked dejected having just returned from injury but it was an early opportunity to look at the new boy.
Before he’d even broken into a sweat Jayson Leutwiler had to make an outstanding save to deny Marley Watkins after the number 15 had turned last defender Jermaine Grandison to create a clear opening. But the Swiss stopper got a firm wrist on the ball as most of Oakwell looked set to celebrate the equaliser. It nearly came too when Hourihane’s drive from 25 yards did beat Leutwiler but thumped against the post as Lady Luck turned her back on The Tykes.
Barnsley were certainly knocking loudly at Town’s door with Watkins guilty of spurning not one, but two golden opportunities, one after the other. He chose to try and pick out a colleague when the shot was the obvious option, and when Mark Ellis’ attempted clearance landed at his feet for a second go, he saw Leutwiler pull off another superb stop. Watkins beat the ground in frustration but he was soon enough celebrating.
The equaliser was always coming and when Winnall skipped past Grandison on 38 minutes, he was able to pick out the corner from the edge of the box with what was effectively a free shot. It was a great touch by Winnall in all fairness from Watkins’ assist, with Grandison powerless to do anything about it. Barnsley had been on top pretty much since Wesolowski’s departure with Town’s early momentum definitely interrupted by the injury, and few would argue they weren’t good value for getting back on level terms. Shrewsbury hadn’t been able to create too much going forward in open play and were most likely the happier of the two teams going into the break at one apiece.
Half-Time: Barnsley 1 Town 1
Club analyst Michael Vernon suggested during the interval that Clark had got the final touch but the defending was anything but text-book and surely one for the dubious goals panel to adjudicate on? The press room at half-time also had Marc Roberts and keeper Davies down as own-goal contenders with answers on a postcard another suggestion!
Cole picked up an early yellow at the resumption for a naive and largely unnecessary challenge, with absolutely no grounds whatsoever for complaint. And there was a hearts in mouth moment when Dan Crowley took a tumble in the Town box, although credit to the lad for springing immediately to his feet.
Clark tried his luck with a decent shot from the left side of the area and it looked like it may have brushed the glove of Davies on its way past the post. But a goal-kick was the decision of the referee and Clark’s protestations were minimal. Soon after, NKP saw the keeper snuff out his cross after some lovely play down the left had seen Nat exploit the space, and then Junior Brown bent his shot wide of the angle of bar and post as Shrews enjoyed their best moments since the very early stages.
Brown had to be replaced with Mat Sadler coming on in his place with more than two-thirds of the game complete, and the midfielder going off with boos in his ears after some of the home fans thought he was time wasting.
Lee Johnson’s side had been more evenly matched since the turnaround and they hadn’t been quite as creative as they had been in the first 45. They won a few corners and Roberts’ huge throw-in’s were a constant threat but Town’s defending in the main was excellent. Lawrence got in the way to block Josh Scowen’s fiercely struck shot just after Jean-Louis had come on for Barnett with 13 left and the game still finely poised. Akpa Akpro blazed miles wide when he got in behind with a slice of good fortune, and maybe had he been in the game a bit longer the outcome might have been a better one.
But then came a much bigger chance for the Frenchman. From Sadler’s pin-point delivery on the left, up climbed the striker to power in a header but it was too close to Davies who still pulled off a crucial save. It was Town’s best opportunity of the game and you wondered at that stage whether they’d fashion a better one in the time that remained. Lawrence skewed another shot wide with Shrewsbury anything but content to settle for the point, and the home fans still somewhat quiet in a County synonymous for its passion.
In the final seconds of added on time Clark struck that winner right in front of the 437 away fans to silence even more the Barnsley crowd. The away bench went nuts because they knew there was no time for a response. Salop had provided much stiffer opposition than some in the home sections might have expected, and they demonstrated quite clearly here that they are a team that’s hard to beat.
Full Time: Barnsley 1 Town 2