The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Stu­art Dunn

CLASSY skip­per Liam Lawrence struck both goals to edge Shrews­bury an­other step closer to­wards achiev­ing their pro­mo­tion am­bi­tions – although it was the other end of the pitch that most pleased boss Micky Mel­lon.

Mid­fielder Lawrence, the 33-year-old for­mer Stoke City and Sun­der­land star, con­verted an early penalty and then blasted home a late free-kick to com­plete an­other good day’s work for Mel­lon’s men.

But it proved an­other dis­ap­point­ing af­ter­noon for Ox­ford who were un­able to cap­i­talise on fac­ing ten men for the last half hour af­ter Shrews­bury young­ster Rhys Sharpe, on loan from Derby, was sent off for two quick bookings.

And Mel­lon was par­tic­u­larly pleased with a first clean sheet in seven games, with goal­keeper Jayson Leutwiler an as­sured pres­ence be­tween the posts.

“You’ve got to show dif­fer­ent qual­i­ties at this stage of the sea­son to what a lot of peo­ple are used to,” said Mel­lon.

“Fair play to the char­ac­ter of the team as you have to dig in and, at this stage of the sea­son, it’s about win­ning games of foot­ball and we’ve man­aged to do that.

“We’ve come off that a wee bit so fair play to the lads, es­pe­cially go­ing down to ten men for about half an hour.

“You’ve got to just dig in and keep go­ing, and then we get that sec­ond goal which gave us that lift to en­able us to get over the line.”

Shrews­bury came rac­ing out of the blocks to open up a sec­ond­minute lead thanks to a penalty from Lawrence. He drilled home af­ter Ox­ford cap­tain Jake Wright lunged at Cameron Gayle.

James Collins then volleyed over from close range for Mel­lon’s high-fliers be­fore Ox­ford started to carry more of an at­tack­ing threat.

Leutwiler blocked a near post drive from Ke­mar Roofe and then charged out to smother an ef­fort from Danny Hyl­ton.

Ox­ford were handed a boost just be­fore the hour when Sharpe, on his home de­but, was dis­missed for a sec­ond yel­low card.

The vis­i­tors en­joyed plenty of pos­ses­sion and Hyl­ton bent a shot just off tar­get but lacked a killer in­stinct when it re­ally mat­tered.

And they were made to pay eight min­utes from time when Bobby Grant was hacked down on the edge of the penalty area and Lawrence ham­mered home a free-kick for his sixth goal of the sea­son.

Ox­ford manager Michael Ap­ple­ton, whose team re­main six points clear of the rel­e­ga­tion zone, said: “Apart from the open­ing 90 sec­onds or so, I think we dom­i­nated the game from the start.

“If any­thing, the send­ing off prob­a­bly was a bad thing for us be­cause they just threw every­body be­hind the ball, dropped very deep and made it very dif­fi­cult.

“But in say­ing that, we still had plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to get our­selves back in the game. “I’ve got to be pos­i­tive and the play­ers have got to be pos­i­tive be­cause we’ve just dom­i­nated a team at the top of the ta­ble.”

PIC­TURES: Me­dia Im­age Ltd

MR POPULAR: Lawrence is mobbed by his Shrews team-mates STAR MAN LIAM LAWRE

NCE Shrews

bury EYES ON THE BALL: Liam Lawrence tucks away the opener from the spot

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