League Two: Weekly Round Up 09/09

Story by Aaron Bliss

The Cod Army are rising to the challenge of their new surroundings, whilst Barnet continue to carry the weight of the table on their shoulders. It’s Week 4 of the League Two season.


Promotion hopefuls Bradford continue to flatter to deceive, as they only gleaned a point from an away fixture they would have hoped to win. They may consider themselves unfortunate, pointing to their superior shots count, but the fact is that they fell behind with fifteen minutes to go, when Padraig Amond converted a Will Hatfield cross. The Bantams fans must have been tearing their hair out, as Zavon Hines had seen an effort well saved, as well as hitting the post in the first half, but it seemed as if all that would be in vain. They reckoned without a nice chip from Alan Connell as the game headed into the last seven minutes though, which saved them from a disaster. Both teams will come away disgruntled here.


A bit of a mismatch at Underhill, as Barnet played the underdog, with bottom facing top. In the end, Martin Allen’s current club beat his previous club with some degree of comfort. Midfielder Jack Payne cracked home a worthy opener, before Danny Kedwell doubled the lead within a minute, putting the Gills two goals to the good inside twelve minutes. The home support may have been fearing a slaughter, but the old chestnut of resting on laurels almost came back to haunt Gillingham, as Barnet briefly mounted resistance, with Jack Saville heading home a corner on 23 minutes, though they were put to bed before half-time, when a third was added by veteran Deon Burton. Despite more decent chances in the second period, the Gills did not add to their lead, and Mark Robson must be fearing for his job prospects, as the Bees have earned just one point from their five games so far.


Two teams struggling at the opposite end they would have hoped for did each other no favours, though Rovers required a last-minute equaliser from substitute Fabian Broghammer to snatch a draw from the slathering jaws of defeat. David Clarkson had actually put Bristol Rovers ahead on eleven minutes, with a barnstorming thirty-yarder, though Shots manager Dean Holdsworth later claimed Craig Reid’s cunning lobbed equaliser evoked memories of Dennis Bergkamp! Alex Rodman’s angled drive put Town into the driving seat just before the hour mark, but Holdsworth was once again left weeping into his immaculate suit at the denouement.


Morecambe’s erratic season continues to lurch from the sublime to the ridiculous, as they were spanked at home to newcomers Fleetwood Town. Bulky predator Jon Parkin made up for his goalless start so far, and proved his higher division pedigree with a hat-trick. As if this contribution was not enough, the big man then also set up a late fourth for Barry Nicholson. The Cod Army have now won three league matches in a row, while Morecambe have yet to win at home this season, and this defeat also wiped out their hitherto positive goal difference.


Cobblers’ manager Aidy Boothroyd hailed his side’s defensive qualities and persistence, as they overcame AFC Wimbledon to move up to eighth in the table. In a game rife with opportunities, it took until the second half for the deadlock to be broken, when Adebayo Akinfenwa played in Alex Nicholls for the opener on the hour. A magnificent solo effort from Chris Hackett sealed the game, as he beat two men and finished brilliantly, to send the Wombles spiralling to defeat yet again.


Oxford’s drama may develop into a crisis at this rate, as they followed their first defeat with a consecutive second, this time at home to Devon high-fliers Exeter. Veteran striker Jamie Cureton’s excellent early season continued, as he claimed a brace to see off the U’s. Scott Bennett had nodded in a second to add to Cureton’s opener, before Oxford finally mounted resistance, through a Jake Forster-Caskey penalty and Alfie Potter close-range finish. The epic comeback was not to be though, as Deane Smalley missed a gilt-edged chance, and a fourth Grecians goal on the counter-attack from John O’Flynn sealed the game on 72 minutes. There was still time for James Constable to be brought on, but he did not add the attacking impetus he normally does, and only got himself sent off with two bookable offences in a minute: perhaps an illustration of his recent frustrations. The U’s knocked local rivals Swindon out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in the week, but will still feel the pain of surrendering an automatic promotion position to their conquerors.


Former Rotherham striker Tom Pope scored four goals to help Port Vale destroy promotion favourites United. Millers’ manager Steve Evans bemoaned his side’s appalling opening half-hour, in which they went 4-0 down, with two goals from Pope sandwiched between Louis Dodds’ opener, and the fourth from Ashley Vincent. A quick strike back from Michael O’Connor lent some hope to the Millers’ cause, and the second half saw the original deficit halved by a Daniel Nardiello penalty, but there was to be no respite, as a further two close-range finishes from Pope put them to the sword. Micky Adams’ side are doing a good job of putting their financial plight to the backs of their minds, and currently sit pretty in third.


Rochdale let down their fans with their poor finishing, as they suffered defeat in a game they had by the scruff of the neck. Despite controlling possession and shots, they went down from a 52nd minute goal by Burton’s Matt Paterson. A second-half onslaught yielded nothing for Dale, while Albion struck the post late on through substitute Cleveland Taylor. The win takes Burton above Rochdale in the fledgling table, on 6 points.


Watford loanee Britt Assombalonga continued his excellent form with another brace, as the Shrimpers saw off the Daggers. The big attacker clinically dispatched two first-half efforts to take full advantage of Daggers’ defender Luke Wilkinson’s early red card. Dagenham got a goal back on the stroke of half time which Southend goalkeeper Paul Smith will not be proud of, but the game was ended as a contest by a Ryan Cresswell volley with twenty minutes to go.


The Devon derby perhaps predictably ended in a stalemate, as Torquay remain unbeaten, though draw-ridden, while Plymouth have recovered well from their early traumas to move up the table. Jake Cole was the busier goalkeeper in the first half, saving from Ian Morris, and seeing off efforts from Lee Mansell, while the Pilgrims’ Warren Feeney twice went close after.


Despite being gifted a 3rd minute lead through a Keith Lowe own goal, Wycombe could not hold out for a much-needed win. Marlon Pack was felled inside the box and Shaun Harrad converted the spot kick before half-time to level matters, and Cheltenham will be the most remorseful of the two sides, seeing Lowe squander a chance to make amends, before Nikki Bull saved brilliantly to keep Wanderers in the game. Wycombe will also be cursing an ankle ligament injury picked up by striker Dennis Oli, which will keep him out of contention for several weeks.


Spireites caretaker Tommy Wright was crestfallen to be denied an excellent away win by a last minute equaliser, but will doubtless be proud of his players’ efforts in the face of adversity. Sam Hird scored his first for Chesterfield on 36 minutes, though within five minutes, a coolly dispatched shot from Michael Coulson restored parity. The manic goalscoring passage continued a minute later, when Craig Westcarr finished a counter-attack to restore the away side’s lead, and this was held onto through the whole of the second period, until Jason Walker acrobatically stole a share of the spoils at the death.


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