Ten-man Oxford United produce a surprising comeback to take all three points against Shrewsbury Town.
It seemed a routine victory was on the cards when Greg Docherty put Shrewsbury 2-1 ahead before the break.
Former Charlton Athletic midfielder Ahmed Kashi saw red with a wild lunge, and it appeared Town would build on Ollie Norburn’s opener.
But Gavin Whyte’s hattrick completed a remarkable turnaround – leaving the home fans perplexed with relegation still an outside chance.
Sam Ricketts made one change from the side that fell to a 2-1 defeat against Barnsley on Good Friday. James Bolton was reinstated at the expense of Ryan Sears.
Karl Robinson’s men had nothing to play for but personal pride; following a fine run of form which had seen them shoot up the table.
And the visitors were keen to keep the good times rolling, as they took the lead with six minutes on the clock. Former Wolves and Aston Villa winger Jordan Graham glided past his marker and turned possession over to Samir Carruthers. The midfielder fed Gavin Whyte who slipped the ball beyond Jonathan Mitchell.
Shrewsbury responded superbly to going behind and soon found themselves level. Shaun Whalley skipped into the box and was upended by Curtis Nelson. Ollie Norburn took responsibility – firing the penalty into the bottom corner.
It was certainly an afternoon to remember as both sets of players were committed to the cause. Ahmed Kashi probably showed too much commitment, by launching into Tyrese Campbell. He saw red for his troubles.
Sam Ricketts’ side were energised by the numerical advantage and nudged themselves ahead before the break. Tyrese Campbell slotted a pass towards Greg Docherty, and the Rangers loanee powered a shot beyond Jack Stevens.
Calamity struck for Shrewsbury in the second period, but they did start brightly. Scott Golbourne and Shaun Whalley were a menace, but Town’s forwards couldn’t provide the killer touch.
Instead, Oxford applied the pressure and drew level with 18 minutes remaining. Gavin Whyte latched onto a precise through ball, and the playmaker converted once more.
The Northern Ireland international was in the mood for more and found what proved to be the winner soon after.
His mazy run culminated in a fierce strike that Jonathan Mitchell couldn’t keep out – much to the delight of boss Karl Robinson.
Shrewsbury are four points clear of the drop zone with two games left, and whilst relegation appears unlikely, they will be keen to get something from Coventry at the weekend. Oxford welcome Doncaster.
Attendance: 7,189 (901 away fans)
Team Line Ups:
Shrewsbury Town: (3-1-4-2)
1. Mitchell, 2. Williams, 22. Waterfall, 6. Beckles, 13. Bolton, 29. Norburn (54), 42. Grant, 23. Golbourne (83), 8. Docherty, 7. Whalley, 11. Campbell (58)
Subs: 5. Sadler, 12. Okenabirhie (58), 17. Smith, 18. Gilliead (83), 27. Sears, 28. Laurent (54), 30. Charles-Cook
Subs Not Used: 5. Sadler, 17. Smith, 27. Sears, 30. Charles-Cook
Oxford United: (4-3-3)
27. Stevens, 23. Long, 5. Nelson, 4. Dickie (60), 3. Garbutt, 24. Sykes, 40. Kashi, 11. Carruthers (45), 16. Whyte, 19. Mackie, 18. Graham (47)
Subs: 6. Hanson (47), 8. Brannagan (45), 9. Sinclair, 21. Napa, 41. Harris, 43. Lopes, 46. Jones (60)
Subs Not Used: 9. Sinclair, 21. Napa, 41. Harris, 43. Lopes
Other League One Results:
Blackpool 2 – 1 Fleetwood
Bradford 1 – 1 Gillingham
Bristol Rovers 0 – 1 Rochdale
Charlton 4 – 0 Scunthorpe
Peterborough 1 – 1 Sunderland
Portsmouth 2 – 1 Coventry
Plymouth 0 – 3 Barnsley
Southend 3 – 2 Burton
Wycombe 1 – 0 Walsall