Barnsley boss Lee Johnson admitted to feeling ‘horrible’ after watching his side slump to defeat in agonising style at home to Shrewsbury Town.
The Shrews - with former Oakwell boss Micky Mellon in charge - hadn’t won any of their opening five Sky Bet League One fixtures following automatic promotion in May.
However, a stunning 93rd-minute winner from former Reds youngster Jordan Clark condemned Johnson’s men to a disappointing second straight league loss following what had been a woeful second-half performance.
Johnson was understandably frustrated after his stuttering side slipped to 14th in the table, but he has vowed to turn fortunes around sooner rather than later.
“It felt horrible,” said Johnson. “I didn’t think we played that badly, in fact in patches I thought we were okay.
“We need to develop an identity within our play that people trust and believe, though.
“The only criticism I’ve got of the players in the wake of that result is that maybe we were guilty of going too long in the last 20 minutes.
“We have got that long throw-in threat from Marc, but we lost that patience in this game and we started trying to get forward too early.
“Once we got the goal back just before half-time we showed some really good character, but then I was disappointed because we started the second half a little bit too sloppily.
“That’s the difference between a good team and an average one. Good teams get their game out on a regular basis.
“I’m upset with the result of course, but I’m not upset looking ahead long-term.
“We’ve got some good players here and it’s mine and my staff’s jobs now to try and find that right blend to make us consistent through the whole 90 minutes of a game, and not just for 10 or 15 minute patches.”
Boss Johnson had made four changes to his starting XI following the midweek Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win at Scunthorpe, with ‘keeper Adam Davies, Marc Roberts, Conor Hourhane and Ben Pearson drafted back in to replace Nick Townsend, Joe Rothwell, George Smith and Kadeem Harris.
Included among the substitutes were recent signings Simeon Jackson and Michael Smith, who went on to make his Reds’ bow after signing for the club on deadline day on loan from Swindon.
It proved to be an entertaining opening half at sun-drenched Oakwell, though the Reds were forced to battle back from an early Shrewsbury strike before deservedly levelling.
Mellon’s side went in front courtesy of a scruffy seventh-minute effort as Mark Ellis bundled the ball towards goal, only for goalkeeper Davies to somehow fumble and turn the ball into his own net while seemingly hindered by defender Roberts on the line.
The remainder of the first period was much clearer, however - the Reds dominated.
Hourihane ought to have done better when he raced clear of the Shrews’ back-line, only to screw a disappointing effort well wide.
The hosts were denied by the woodwork in the 20th minute.
Josh Scowen played in Hourihane, and this time last season’s top scorer curled in a super shot from the edge of the box which struck the outside of a post.
Amazingly, the woodwork rescued the Shrews again soon after, this time when Marley Watkins side-footed against the post from close range after meeting Sam Winnall’s cross.
The Reds grabbed their well-deserved equaliser seven minutes before the interval.
Winnall powered home his third goal of the season from 20 yards after taking a smart pass from the alert Marley Watkins.
The second half was a different story as the Reds let their standards slip and allowed Shrewsbury back into contention, particularly in the closing stages.
Winnall and Scowen had both gone close for the hosts, while ‘keeper Davies was supremely agile in keeping out Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro’s point-blank header.
Just when it looked as the game was heading for a stalemate Clark, who joined the Shrews last summer after making only seven Barnsley appearances, weaved his way into the box before firing home low past Davies via a slight deflection.
It was a cruel late blow for Johnson, but it had been on the cards.
BARNSLEY (4-4-1-1): Davies 5; Wabara 7, Roberts 6, Mawson 5, Nyatanga 7; Scowen 7, Pearson 6, Hourihane 8 (M Smith 70, 6), Crowley 6 (Harris 70, 6); Watkins 5; Winnall 7. Subs :Townsend, Rothwell, G Smith, Bree, Jackson.
SHREWSBURY (3-5-2): Leutwiler 6; Ellis 8, Knight-Percival 6, Grandison 7; Lawrence 5, Ogogo 7, Wesolowski 5 (Cole 16, 6), Clark 8, Brown 7 (Sadler 66, 5); Barnett 5 (Akpa-Akpro 76, 5), Tootle 7. Subs: Halstead, Collins, Whalley, McAlinden.
REF: Stuart Attwell (Nuneaton).