Sheffield United had a day to forget at Shrewsbury Town, as Febian Brandy was sent off in a 2-0 defeat at Greenhous Meadow.
Against opponents who also entered the contest at the wrong end of the League One table, it was a quality the South Yorkshire club anticipated they would require in spades.
Especially when, as kick-off approached, the weather threatened to deteriorate in alarming fashion; the high winds inside Greenhous Meadow accentuated by the fact a helicopter delivered the matchball.
Only three minutes had passed when United survived an almighty scare.
Lopez hunted down a speculative high pass forward and when Maguire and Long allowed the ball to bounce, the Town attacker sensed an opportunity but could only bundle wide.
A similar chance presented itself at the other end of the pitch seven minutes later when King out-muscled his marker and nodded the ball perfectly into Lyle Taylor’s path, but his first-time effort was blocked.
Clough’s team selection spoke volumes about the type of battle he expected this to be, with flair players such as Baxter, Brandy and Cuvelier named on the bench.
With Lappin patrolling central midfield, debutant White was handed a more advanced role rather than his usual detail at full-back and, moments after Lopez’s effort, he was inches away from making what would surely have been a decisive touch when Flynn’s centre reached the far post.
Play had barely re-started following Taylor’s snatch-shot when the former Republic of Ireland under-21 international seized possession 25 yards out but fired wide, while United’s coaching staff were incandescent with rage in the 13th minute when Lappin went down under Woods’ challenge in the area but referee Attwell refused to budge.
Nevertheless, that was the cue for United to stamp their authority on proceedings, albeit without every really testing Weale as Town’s defence made a series of scrambled blocks.
Taylor saw another long-range drive spiral behind for the corner midway through the opening period which Weale spilled but Winfield managed to hack clear.
Then Doyle failed to achieve a clean connection after King had burrowed a hole in Town’s right flank and Taylor sent an over-head kick at the near post bouncing just wide.
Clough, remonstrating with his coaching staff on the touchline, was clearly not happy with certain aspects of United’s play. But, just as they seemed on the verge of breaking Town’s resolve, JACOBSON thundered the hosts in front with six minutes of the first-half remaining.
It was a spectacular finish - the ball piercing the bitter Shropshire air as it flew, from 35 yards out, beyond Long’s outstretched palm and inside the upright.
Clough, though, simply turned away in disgust.
Clough made a change at the start of the second-half as Brandy replaced Collins, which saw White move to full-back and Hill across to partner Maguire.
Brandy, now recovered from the sickness bug which had forced him to miss last weekend’s victory over Crewe Alexandra, nearly made an instant impression but, having darted through Town’s midfield, could not find the onrushing Flynn.
The wind, which sliced through this exposed stadium, continued to be a factor.
Long’s kicks, which previously struggled to reach the centre-circle, were now in danger of flying straight into Weale’s hands.
White used the conditions well to thrash a low centre across Town’s area but no one could prod it home.
Then, in the 56th minute, United found themselves at a numerical disadvantage when substitute Brandy was dismissed.
The former Walsall winger went down under Goldson’s challenge but Attwell remained unmoved.
Brandy then pushed away his marker when they squared-up and was duly shown the red card.
Miller, who had been poised to come on, returned to the bench but did come on in the 62nd minute when King was withdrawn.
Brandy’s exit changed the flow of the game. Until that moment, the visitors had been in the ascendancy and seemingly destined to spend the majority of the second period camped inside Town’s half.
Clough, who later saw Miller cautioned for a mistimed tackle, was still urging his charges forward but now Graham Turner’s men frequently threatened on the counter-attack.
The conditions - driving wind and rain - were now atrocious. Likewise Clough’s mood, when McALINDEN scored the hosts’ second as they surged forward on the counter-attack.
United had committed men forward and Bradshaw, who provided the foinal square pass to his team mate, exploited the gap.
Bradshaw made way for Summerfield during the closing stages as Town saw the match out.