Shrewsbury Tn 3, Oxford Utd 0 (07/05)
Oxford United's season ended with a first defeat in six games in somewhat surreal surroundings at GreenHous Meadow.
Promotion-chasing Shrewsbury scored three times in the second half for a flattering final scoreline.
Shrews top scorer, Mark Wright, beat both Damian Batt and Ryan Clarke rather easily as he cut outside the fullback and then hit a low shot which beat the U's keeper at his near post, going off him into the net.
And midfielder David Davis sealed victory with a second goal 13 minutes from time, bursting through the centre and sending a left-footed shot in off the post.
Substitute Lionel Ainsworth added a third goal from a similar position in the 89th minute as United's defence was breached again.
However, it was not enough for Graham Turner's team to secure automatic promotion.
Wycombe's win over Southend ensured the Chairboys take third place, leaving Shrewsbury to contest the play-offs.
Oxford, though, do finish in the top half of League Two, just, in 12th place.
If Clarke had felt disappointed that he didn't do better with the opening goal, he redeemed himself with a magnificent shot from Matt Harrold's close-range shot on 70 minutes.
Batt too had a great opportunity to make amends, but at the other end.
After James Constable had weedled the ball to him out of a tight situation, Batt ran through with just goalkeeper Ben Smith to beat, but rolled his shot wide from seven yards.
The players, of both sides, were probably mystified as to what was going on elsewhere in the country, as sections of supporters would punctuate the play with sudden cheers, seemingly from hearing the score at Adams Park.
But there were more false alarms than honest scores from the fans, so anyone without access to a radio or text updates would have been mightily confused.
It was an unfortunate afternoon for U's striker Tom Craddock, who had to be helped off the pitch after taking a hefty whack on his leg in a challenge.
The GreenHous Meadow was rocking before kick-off as expectant Shrewsbury fans anticipated a joyous afternoon.
Anthony Tonkin started for the first time at centre back, because of Jake Wright's absence with a pulled hamstring, and Jimmy Sangare's season-ending metatarsal injury.
But Batt and Harry Worley were able to resume, despite having treatment in the week, while Steve Kinniburgh came in at left back.
The U's had probably imagined this much-changed defence would come under heavy pressure, but in fact it was sporadic from the start.
Batt made two vital challenges, once chesting back to his heart-in-the-mouth keeper Ryan Clarke, and then darting in just in the nick of time, for a clearance across the face of his goal.
Kinniburgh made a tidy tackle near the right touchline, and Tonkin a well-timed interception at the near post, turning a dangerous right-wing cross away for a corner.
In the 15th minute, a great roar reverberated around the ground as the news spread that Wycombe were losing to Southend.
The home fans belted out "We Are Going Up", but it was premature. Wycombe equalised five minutes later, and went in front six minutes after that.
It was United who managed the first shot, albeit off target.
Josh Payne met a dropping clearance with a well-struck first-time shot, but it flew over the bar.
The understanding did not seem quite there between United's front three, with Steve MacLean overhitting one pass to Tom Craddock on his left, and moments later, Constable and MacLean not appearing on the same wavelength.
A good run by Shrewsbury's Jon Taylor, beginning on the right and cutting through the middle, was thwarted when first Batt and then Tonkin sped across to block his path to goal.
It had been a first half of few goalscoring chances, with so much nervous tension around the place for the home side.
Constable felt he should have had a penalty when he went down following an aerial challenge at a corner, but those verdicts seldom come away from home.
Fighting broke out in one section of the home area, and it needed nearly a dozen stewards to sort it out.
Shrewsbury looked more dangerous in the second half, when the play became more stretched and they showed they had some decent pace in their side.
Worley was replaced by Mitch Hanson for the last 20 minutes, and the head bandaged Hanson made one superbly-timed tackle on Davis.
The visitors did create chances of their own too.
Paul McLaren's flicked effort from Payne's corner was saved, and Payne struck a decent shot from 20 yards that Smith saved to his right.
But at the back, Shrewsbury were starting to cut through United's defence.
At the end, United's players saluted another fine travelling support, of 920 fans in a total crowd of 8,817, a record for the stadium.
For the Oxford fans, it had been great to be back in the League. And so much better visiting the likes of Chesterfield and Shrewsbury this season than Histon and Altrincham last.