League Two: Weekly Round Up 02/09

Story by Aaron Bliss

More labyrinthine twists and turns as the early League Two table begins to take shape like an ancient weathered treasure map gradually restored by computer in front of your eyes.


Wimbledon stopped the rot, recovering from their two recent trouncings to earn a battling draw with Dagenham and Redbridge, though judging by the Daggers’ recent form, perhaps Terry Burton will rue not cashing in further. The Wombles went in 2-1 to the good at the break, having recovered from a penalty awarded to the Daggers which was saved twice by Seb Brown. Despite this, Dagenham took the lead through Michael Spillane, but this served only to spur Wimbledon into life. Top scorer from last season Jack Midsom almost immediately equalised, before the lead was claimed through Byron Harrison. Unfortunately for Dons fans, the lead could not be preserved, and Luke Howell fired in on 56 minutes to earn a share of the spoils.


The home fans were left aghast, after having the best of all the statistics, and seeming to be in control for much of the game, only to be left in ruins in the wake of three goals in ten second half minutes from the Shrimps. Gary McDonald slotted home the opener seven minutes into the second period, while by the time a Nick Fenton volley and Kevin Ellison finish had ended the contest, Mark McGhee must have been wishing the ground had opened up to claim him. His Rovers side have just one point to show from their three outings thus far, and fans will be hoping this is merely a sluggish opening, rather than a sign of their long-term prospects.


Cheltenham manager Mark Yates described his side as ‘hopeless’ on this showing, and most fans would concur with his frank assessment of events. Despite plenty of efforts, Town were caught on the break time and again, while Stanley scored with all three of their shots on target. Irish striker Padraig Amond broke clear to open the scoring with just four minutes on the clock, and this was added to by George Miller. Romuald Boco sealed the win just after the break, after yet another sprung offside trap.


Exeter’s season is unfolding very nicely, and with this third consecutive win they have moved up to second place. Veteran Jamie Cureton volleyed in from an Alan Gow header, before assisting the second, from Arron Davies. Guillem Buaza’s superb cross was converted easily by John O’Flynn, and Burton manager Gary Rowett was gutted, after his side had dominated and wasted some 65% possession away from home.


Dean Holdsworth was left fuming, after the Cod Army registered their first win as a league club over his Shots team. He laid into his side at the final whistle, though claimed the scoreline reflected his team being caught chasing the game. Junior Brown had put Fleetwood ahead, but Aldershot fans must have been rubbing their hands together when Dean Howell was sent off for handball on the goal-line. These same hands would have been rubbing over their faces, as the resultant penalty was saved, though Craig Reid eventually levelled the scores via the crossbar and goalkeeper. The Shots began the second period a man up and level, but fell behind again two minutes after the restart, after a goal from Steven McNulty. This then led to Aldershot losing their heads somewhat, as Josh Payne saw a second yellow for handball, and further goal concessions were made: to Brown again, and a last minute Andy Mangan strike.


It was to be the weekend that both 100% winning records were ended, and Gillingham salvaged a draw too keep them ahead of the pack. Chesterfield will be relatively pleased with a draw, having dispensed with manager John Sheridan in the week, though they did take the lead through Craig Westcarr. The attacker was unmarked, and volleyed in from close-range. It only took the Gills eight minutes to level matters, through Danny Kedwell, but the rest of the game was fairly evenly balanced, despite Westcarr’s late second yellow card. Caretakers Tommy Wright and Mark Crossley will have been delighted with the result, while Martin Allen will just need to take a quick look at the League Two table to quell any disgruntlement.


A touch of romance at Home Park, as Rhys Griffiths, a summer signing from Welsh League side Port Talbot, scored his first goal in the English professional game, helping the Pilgrims finally earn a victory which lifts them out of the doldrums, however briefly it might be. Alex Nicholls had given the Cobblers the lead, before Warren Feeney headed home to even the scores. Griffiths seized his moment on the hour mark, and breathing space was provided by Curtis Nelson. Town scored a second in the injury time through David Artell, but it was too little too late for Aidy Boothroyd’s men.


Torquay boss Martin Ling was honest enough to admit the Gulls rode their luck in this contest, despite taking the lead. Rene Howe slid in Ian Morris, who finished from close range, but a comical own goal from Brian Saah, who headed the ball past his own goalkeeper in the 69th minute, ensured parity. The centre-back then almost made himself a pantomime villain, as he sliced another clearance off his own post!


The battle of the two teams with a single name ended with depressing familiarity for Barnet fans, who must fear for the season ahead. Brilliantly named midfielder Ashley Grimes; presumably ‘Grimey’ to his friends, helped George Donnelly’s scuffed free-kick past Graham Stack in the Barnet goal for the first, while veteran marksman Dele Adebola added a poacher’s second before half-time. The Bees put up something of a fight though, with Andy Yiadom hitting the woodwork with a cross, though it is tough to be positive about the rock-bottom North Londoners right now.


The two Yorkshire promotion hopefuls provided a surprisingly one-sided scoreline, as the Millers came away merrier than ever, whilst the Bantams will be licking their wounds for some time. Despite a fairly even set of statistics, history will judge that Rotherham were clinical in the extreme, scoring four goals from six shots on target. Gareth Evans claimed half of those, but will be furious he missed an open goal to claim his hat-trick. The Millers had taken the lead after just 55 seconds, when Michael O’Connor netted emphatically from 25 yards, and a cracking dribble from his own half culminated in a goal for Ben Pringle.


A slow start from Wanderers ultimately cost them the match, as Britt Assombalonga’s seventh minute goal for the Shrimpers did for them. Southend had a host of chances in the first period to extend the lead, but were made to sweat as Wycombe finally woke up after the break, but, despite decent efforts from Matthew Spring and Joel Grant, could not recover, and the Essex side move above them in the table as a result.


Oxford’s old nemeses York saw them off to celebrate their league fixture reunion in style. The two University giants tussled at Bootham Crescent, where a goal in the opening fifteen seconds shot the U’s down in flames. Goalkeeper Ryan Clarke failed to deal with a Patrick McLaughlin effort, and Michael Coulson converted to send the fans into delirium. Things got worse when Oxford striker Deane Smalley saw a penalty saved, and Ashley Chambers put York 2-0 up inside the first quarter of an hour. McLaughlin then influenced the game further, first when he deflected a corner into his own net to give Oxford hope, and then when he killed the game off by scoring at the right end on 54 minutes. York, who were beaten in the Conference play-off final by Oxford in 2010, savoured the sweet tang of revenge, as they knocked the U’s off top spot in League Two, and in the process recorded their first home league win since January 2004!


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