Dan is the man for rampant Latics
Reporter: SIMON SMEDLEY
Date online: 04 September 2013
SHREWSBURY 1, ATHLETIC 4
DANNY Philliskirk scored two clinical goals on his debut to help fire Athletic into the second round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Philliskirk (22) produced a scintillating first-half performance after being thrust straight in for his Athletic bow by manager Lee Johnson, on a night when Adam Rooney and Sidney Schmeltz also netted to complete a superb victory at Greenhous Meadow.
The Shrews were never in the hunt as the visitors soared into a three-goal lead by the 40-minute mark, with Graham Turner’s men grabbing what turned out to be their consolation goal a minute before the interval.
There weren’t too many shocks when the team-sheets came through an hour before kick-off.
Johnson made three alterations to the side which was so unfortunate to lose out to that hotly-disputed last-gasp spot-kick against Tranmere at the weekend.
The trio to earn call-ups were all first-time starters, however.
Anton Rodgers got his chance in midfield, while more offensively, Albert Rusnak started after impressing for half-an-hour as a substitute on Saturday and Philliskirk was given an opportunity to show exactly what he may have to offer in the months and years to come.
He went on to grab his chance with both hands as Athletic bossed proceedings throughout, save for 10-minute spells either side of half-time.
Dropping to the bench were James Wesolowski, James Dayton and Jonson Clarke-Harris, who had been suffering with cramp after the Tranmere game.
Shrews’ boss Turner made the maximum five changes to his side despite the weekend’s hard-earned draw against Coventry.
All five of those new faces were so-called ‘fringe’ players given a chance to impress on what was a beautiful, balmy late summer evening in Shropshire.
Johnson’s dad Gary was in the stand to watch his son’s side, as was Liverpool boss and Anton’s father Brendan Rodgers, and they saw fleet-footed Athletic leave the Shrews chasing shadows during what was a breathtaking opening 40 minutes.
Wide-man Schmeltz — who tormented the hosts’ full-back Ryan Woods pretty much all night — had already seen a shot blocked before former Chelsea prodigy Philliskirk struck his opening goal.
Just nine minutes into his first appearance in an Athletic shirt, Philliskirk pounced on a loose ball after Schmeltz had seen an attempted cross blocked, and curled an exquisite strike beyond Joe Anyon from 20 yards with the minimum of fuss.
The 186 travelling fans from Oldham rejoiced, and their journey was to prove much more worthwhile as their team almost toyed with Shrewsbury at times.
The impressive Joseph Mills and Schmeltz both saw efforts superbly beaten away by Anyon, before a suicidal effort at a back-pass almost gained the hosts an unexpected lifeline in the 23rd minute.
Rodgers’ attempt to feed Mark Oxley was woefully short of strength, and as Middlesbrough loan man Curtis Main nipped in to pinch the ball, the Athletic ’keeper came to the rescue with a smart stop from a well-struck low drive.
That glaring miss was quickly punished as Athletic doubled their lead two minutes later.
And it was Philliskirk again, who this time drove home a Mills cross from the left after Rooney had swung a missed a first attempt at a connection.
On a hat-trick after less than half-an-hour of his debut, Philliskirk was in dreamland.
Rooney was the next to score, however, when he planted home a firm header from Italian right-back Matteo Lanzoni’s peach of a cross.
Graham Burke slammed home the Shrews’ only goal minutes before the break.
The same player then saw an effort hacked off the line by Mills during a rare period of pressure from the hosts.
Mills struck a thumping shot against the post three minutes after the restart, before Schmeltz’s first Athletic goal wrapped up a crushing victory.
The Dutchman robbed Adam Reach down near the corner flag, before charging towards goal unopposed and guiding a shot superbly past the stunned Anyon.
The margin of victory could have been even greater had late sub Clarke-Harris not fluffed two gilt-edged chances from close range in the dying minutes.
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