Story by Aaron Bliss
The table has started to take shape as the midweek and weekend games saw Gillingham move well clear at the summit, while both AFC Wimbledon and Wycombe Wanderers parted company with their managers.
ACCRINGTON STANLEY 1-0 ALDERSHOT TOWN
Stanley spent much of the game window-shopping at the jewellers, coveting and coveting until finally smashing the window and making off with the loot at the death. Lee Molyneux’s inswinging corner was cleared off the line early on, which set the tone for a game in which Stanley seemed always the most likely. Despite bossing most of the possession and shots stats, the game was not decided until the last minute, when Padraig Amond came off the bench to poke in a last minute winner for his fourth goal of the campaign. There was also time for Peter Vincenti to lose his head and get sent off in injury time; compounding Shots manager Dean Holdsworth’s sense of injustice.
BARNET 0-0 ROTHERHAM
What looked like an excellent point against promotion-chasing Rotherham could actually be termed a missed opportunity for the rock-bottom Bees. Decent chances were squandered by Jake Hyde and Ricky Holmes, before the Millers’ striker Alex Revell saw red for a lunge on David Stephens with ten minutes to go. Being the home team against a man less, perhaps Barnet fans will think this could have been the ideal chance to get their survival charge up and running, but they remain bottom, with just two points from their eight matches, having lost in midweek to Aldershot, while Rotherham boss Steve Evans will be furious at missing a great chance to render their midweek home defeat to Rochdale meaningless.
BRISTOL ROVERS 0-0 FLEETWOOD TOWN
Fleetwood lost an incredible midweek match, 5-2 at home to Port Vale, so will be glad of a point, even at the team second-bottom of the division. Rovers picked up their second consecutive draw, ending a run of defeats. Cod Army goalkeeper Scott Davies earned his bonus, as Rovers piled on pressure with shot after shot, and Mark McGhee bemoaned his strikers’ profligacy, saying he hopes to add another striker soon.
MORECAMBE 2-3 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE
The most erratic side in the league produced perhaps their finest debacle, as they conspired to lose a two-goal lead at home to strugglers Plymouth. Morecambe ‘s Jack Redshaw had opened the scoring before five minutes had been played, and Richard Brodie converted a penalty on 51 minutes to apparently seal the game. But they reckoned without a Pilgrims’ comeback Lazarus would have marvelled at. 72 minutes had been played before Ross Jenkins fired into the top corner from the edge of the box, spurring his broken team into life, before suicidal defending from the home side led to penalties for handball and then a foul, both clinically dispatched by Warren Feeney, to the raptures of the long-travelled away following.
NORTHAMPTON TOWN 0-0 CHESTERFIELD
The Spireites will be delighted, having still not lost since manager John Sheridan was dismissed at the start of the month. This was game seven in that unbeaten run, and caretaker manager Tommy Wright should take great credit for steadying the ship. Both teams took the bull by the horns, and goalkeepers earned their salaries throughout. Jack Lester hit the crossbar for the away side, but overall a goalless draw did no side a disservice.
OXFORD UNITED 0-2 BRADFORD CITY
Chris Wilder finds himself under intense pressure, as Oxford succumbed to a fifth successive league defeat following the midweek reversal at Cheltenham; this time to a Bradford City side who have looked far from convincing this season. In fact, this was the Bantams’ first away win this campaign, earned through two headers from corners, first from Andrew Davies just after half-time, followed by Nakhi Wells flicking in another fifteen minutes later. Wilder admitted things were looking bleak at the moment, but added that the side are just trying to ride out the storm together. It would help if he could get strikers James Constable and Dean Smalley fit and firing again. Despite their uncertain start, Bradford are starting to string some results together, and have moved up to fourth, following three wins on the spin.
PORT VALE 0-2 GILLINGHAM
Port Vale’s superb run was ended by the one team you can expect to end any team’s winning run: top of the table Gillingham. Mad Dog’s juggernaut remain unbeaten and irresistible on the road or at home. Two early goals saw off Micky Adams’ rampant Valiants, who in the week crushed Fleetwood 5-2 at their own ground. Old-stager Deon Burton headed a Robbie Findley cross home, before the game was sealed on 25 minutes by Chris Welpdale. This was Vale’s first home defeat this season, and they were cursing Gills keeper Stuart Nelson, who denied their best chance of a revival when he tipped Jennison Myrie-Williams’ free-kick onto the crossbar and away.
ROCHDALE 2-2 DAGENHAM AND REDBRIDGE
Dagenham Dave will be chuffed at his side’s momentous comeback, as they clawed back a two-goal deficit to move on to four points. Rochdale earned a great 3-2 away win at Rotherham in the week, but couldn’t see this one out, despite Dele Adebola proving he is as adept at ever by turning and firing home on 33 minutes, quickly followed by a neat Bobby Grant finish. The game pivoted on the sending off of defender Kevin McIntyre after he took out Josh Scott, who had just rounded the goalkeeper. The resultant penalty was dispatched by Micky Spillane, and the comeback was completed on 68 minutes, when Sam Williams headed home a corner for the Daggers.
SOUTHEND UNITED 2-1 EXETER CITY
The Shrimpers recovered from their narrow midweek defeat to Gillingham, as they left it late to turn around a one goal deficit. The Grecians seemed to have the game by the scruff of the neck, and they turned this superiority into a lead just after the break, with Scot Bennett applying the finishing touch to a lovely move. However, they reckoned without the influence of Southend’s prodigal son Freddy Eastwood, who came off the bench to score the winning goal with a close-range header right at the death, after another substitute, Barry Corr, returning from a long injury, had levelled the game with a fabulous header on 78 minutes.
TORQUAY UNITED 1-1 BURTON ALBION
The Gulls had a second successive 1-0 victory within their grasp, but finally capitulated to an onslaught from the visitors: vanquishers of York in midweek. The familiar figure of Rene Howe had stabbed in from close-range to the acclamation of the West Coast faithful, but Burton, adamant Calvin Zola had been fouled in the build-up, used their feeling of injustice to seize the initiative, and swamped Torquay for most of the rest of the game. Michael Poke pulled off a cracking double save to preserve the lead, while the Brewers also struck the woodwork twice, before the ever-reliable Zola tucked the ball in from close-range with a minute to go.
WYCOMBE WANDERERS 0-1 AFC WIMBLEDON
Wycombe acted to fire manager Gary Waddock after they succumbed to their third defeat in a row. Perhaps the Wycombe board took note of opponents Wimbledon’s decision to sack their own manager Terry Brown, after their third loss in a row against Torquay in midweek. Despite seeming like a huge act of disloyalty; Brown having guided Wimbledon from the Ryman League into the Football League and keeping them there last season, it had an immediate effect, as the Dons finally arrested their slide with a goal worthy of the occasion. Sammy Moore unleashed a stunner off the underside of the crossbar just before half-time, after the Dons had earlier missed a penalty.
YORK CITY 0-0 CHELTENHAM TOWN
York’s recent poor run continued, as they fluffed their lines once more at home to Cheltenham, who continue their steady climb up the table. Both sides had chances to emerge victorious, with York going close through Patrick McLaughlin and Jason Walker. Michael Ingham pulled off an excellent save from Cheltenham top scorer Shaun Harrad, before the Robins’ hit the crossbar late on.