Story by Aaron Bliss
The division is compressing after this weekend’s results, though the one constant is Barnet remaining winless!
ACCRINGTON STANLEY 2-3 ROCHDALE
Accrington have had a lousy week, having seen their midweek game against Rotherham called off through bad weather, and then seeing a valiant comeback thwarted at the death against an impressive Rochdale. A cracking George Donnelly 30-yarder in the first minute of the game catapulted Rochdale into the driving seat, and they nudged further ahead after Dele Adebola was fouled crudely in the box, and the marvellously-named Ashley Grimes converted the spot-kick just after the half-hour. Stanley finally rose to the challenge and halved the deficit just five minutes later when Piero Mingoia drove home. The home fans were raucous two minutes into the second period, as the comeback seemed to be complete, with Rommy Boco scoring a long-range effort that Josh Lillis won’t be proud of letting in. The goalkeeper was let off on 83 minutes though, as Dale scored a glorious winner when Jason Kennedy finished off a breakaway move.
ALDERSHOT TOWN 0-1 CHESTERFIELD
Dean Holdsworth seems to be suffering badly from second-season-syndrome, as Aldershot’s malaise continued, and they remain second-bottom. After being on the wrong end of the most stupendous comeback of the season so far in midweek; contriving to lose 4-3 at Torquay despite taking a three-goal lead, the Shots could not rouse themselves for another poor display. Meanwhile, Chesterfield may just continue without a permanent manager indefinitely, judging by their results since Tommy Wright took the reins as caretaker. Wright lost his first match in charge in midweek to Morecambe, but they came through their test of responding instantly brilliantly. Troy Brown had already seen a header cleared off the line, but the Spireites stole the game on late on, as Chris Atkinson turned home a loose ball on 76 minutes.
BRISTOL ROVERS 3-1 NORTHAMPTON TOWN
The Pirates showed the Cobblers a clean pair of heels as they made off with the booty at the Memorial Stadium. Having narrowly lost to Cheltenham in midweek, it was crucial that Mark McGhee’s men continued their resurgence, and they maintained their steady climb from the League Two depths. Their cause was no doubt assisted by Northampton’s Anthony Charles getting himself sent off for dragging down Derek Riordan in the first half. Goals from Tom Eaves and Garry Kenneth put Rovers in control against the ten men just after the break, before Adebayo Akinfenwa responded on 75 minutes, but the game was well and truly put to bed by Ollie Norburn with six minutes to go.
CHELTENHAM TOWN 2-2 FLEETWOOD TOWN
Pandemonium ensued in the dying stages of this game, as Fleetwood stole a point at the death through Junior Brown, before Cheltenham captain Alan Bennett infuriated his manager by pushing the celebrating Jamie McGuire and getting himself sent off. Cheltenham had launched a comeback after the Cod Army opened the scoring just after the half-hour. David Ball forced the ball in after a melee, but the second half saw Cheltenham hit Fleetwood with both barrels. Jeff Goulding and Sido Jombati struck in a ten minute period that saw the game turned on its head. Both teams had ground out away wins in midweek, and both will probably accept a point after this hard-fought encounter.
DAGENHAM AND REDBRIDGE 4-3 BRADFORD CITY
Dagenham hung on for an unexpected victory over high-flying Bradford to lift themselves a little further clear of danger. The Daggers flew out of the traps, with Billy Bingham, Michael Spillane and Luke Wilkinson scoring to give them a seemingly unassailable lead. But, as Aldershot discovered in midweek, a three goal lead is not remotely safe in League Two, and just ten minutes later the arrears had been reduced to 3-2, after Nakhi Wells had fired in a great shot and converted a penalty. Everything was up for grabs as the game slipped into its denouement, but, just as Bantams fans may have been dreaming of a momentous comeback, Dagenham sealed the game through Dwight Gayle. Even then, the home team were made to sweat, as Bradford striker Alan Connell notched a third for the visitors. D&G saw out the game though, to leave their league position looking much healthier, in the shape of eighteenth.
EXETER CITY 0-2 PORT VALE
Tom Pope continued his superb season with a brace to see off Exeter at St James’ Park. Pope is now streets ahead as the division’s top scorer with eleven league goals to his name. A first half close-range header opened the scoring, and a second-half header completed the job. Exeter, who enjoyed a narrow away win against hapless Barnet in midweek, remain in fourth, while the Valiants close gap on Gillingham to just 3 points.
MORECAMBE 0-0 BURTON ALBION
A pretty uneventful goalless draw which suited the home side more than Burton, who could have really made inroads at the top end of the division, had they found a breakthrough. Morecambe will just be delighted to have endured a much better week, after ending their string of defeats with a home win over Chesterfield, and keeping a clean sheet against a dangerous Albion side.
OXFORD UNITED 0-0 GILLINGHAM
Oxford’s rollercoaster season continued, as they ended the league leaders’ 100% away record with a clean sheet. The U’s season before this week had lurched from the sublime to the ridiculous, with three opening wins followed by six consecutive defeats, which had made manager Chris Wilder’s position a little tenuous to say the least. They finally broke the spell with a narrow midweek victory, ‘sharing’ five goals with AFC Wimbledon, before stifling the irrepressible Gills to leave the home fans roaring approval. Veteran Deon Burton was once more the biggest threat for the Gills, while Tom Craddock nearly stole the show for Oxford late on.
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 1-2 AFC WIMBLEDON
A bizarre climax unfolded in Devon, as Wimbledon claimed a much-needed victory at the death, when all seemed to have been lost. The still-managerless Dons opened the scoring after last season’s top scorer Jack Midsom conspired to set up Byron Harrison. This was on 13 minutes, and, toil as they might, Plymouth looked sunk, while Wimbledon were the better side, but clearly fearful after so long without a win. Their fears were realised in the 89th minute, when they conceded a penalty. Although his penalty was saved, Rhys Griffiths tucked in the rebound to leave the Dons’ support crestfallen. They’d reckoned without a buccaneering spirit that saw Wimbledon’s Rashid Yussuff squeeze home a deflected effort in injury time to claim the spoils, though.
SOUTHEND UNITED 2-2 BARNET
The Bees winless season continued, though a point from Roots Hall is not to be sniffed at. The game progressed as expected at first, with Southend threatening, and striking the crossbar twice, though Barnet took a two-goal lead, with second-half goals from Ricky Holmes and Jake Hyde. If only they could have held out longer, perhaps the Bees could have been far more optimistic at their position heading into the international break. But it was just two minutes before Shrimpers’ cult hero Freddy Eastwood dispatched a penalty awarded after Barry Fuller had been penalised for handball, and then, with just six minutes to hold out, the Bees capitulated; conceding an inevitable equaliser to a scuffed Kevan Hurst effort.
WYCOMBE WANDERERS 2-1 TORQUAY UNITED
Wycombe boosted their survival prospects no end with an excellent victory over a strangely subdued Torquay side. Wycombe caretaker-manager Gareth Ainsworth crossed for ex-Spurs and Norwich centre-back Gary Doherty to head Wanderers in front, before Rene Howe popped up with his eighth of the season to equalise. From there it was anyone’s game, and Wycombe seized the initiative to grab a winner on 63 minutes, through midfielder Josh Scowen.
YORK CITY 0-0 ROTHERHAM UNITED
More action-packed than the average nil-nil, York took the game to their promotion-chasing guests, testing Scott Shearer with efforts from Jason Walker and Ashley Chambers, while Walker later fired fractionally wide of the post. Lionel Ainsworth could have stolen the game for the Millers, but wasted a late chance under pressure.