A tragic weekend for Wycombe fans, who saw their side sink to the bottom of League Two, though it’s great news for Gillingham fans, whose side were the only team in the top three to win.
AFC WIMBLEDON 1-1 ALDERSHOT TOWN
A rare weekend of cheer for Shots fans, as their side clambered off the foot of the table by virtue of a hard-earned away point at Wimbledon. Stevenage loanee Dani Lopez had pounced on the half-time whistle to lift the away fans, and though a Stacy Long free-kick restored parity, Dean Holdsworth will be a much happier man now that Town are only in the relegation zone on goal difference.
BARNET 1-1 ACCRINGTON STANLEY
Barnet battled to a point despite having talisman Edgar Davids sent off for two bookable offences. Benin international Romuald Boco had opened the scoring for Stanley after 53 minutes, but the Bees fought back through a controversial Mark Byrne spot-kick. Controversial because the referee ordered a retake, judging goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin had moved too early in saving his first attempt. Davids received a second booking for fouling Stanley debutant James Beattie; a rare glance of top level glitz in this otherwise mediocre encounter.
BRADFORD CITY 0-1 EXETER CITY
Exeter’s recent resurgence continued with a fine away win at Valley Parade. Bradford will be kicking themselves at some of the home points they’ve dropped this season, and they fell to a Jamie Cureton strike moments before the break. Some fans may be muttering that they have become somewhat over-reliant on Nakhi Wells, and despite a penalty appeal when Wells himself went down, they once again lost a game they should have won. They remain just inside the play-off zone, while Exeter climb to ninth.
BURTON ALBION 3-2 DAGENHAM AND REDBRIDGE
A late pre-Christmas cracker from Billy Kee settled this contest, ending Dagenham’s four match unbeaten run in the process. A bundled penalty rebound put the Daggers in front on the half-hour. Burton goalkeeper Dean Lyness conceded the spot-kick but made amends with a great save from Spillane, but couldn’t prevent the rebound being tucked away by Dwight Gayle. Going in ahead at half-time, Daggers’ fans were jubilant. Unfortunately for them, Albion came out of the traps like a greyhound in heat, and had turned the score around within eight second half minutes. Damien McRory and Matt Patterson dispatched two goals to leave the game in Albion’s hands, but there was another riposte from the stabby Daggers, when Sam Williams rifled in with just twelve minutes left. Incredibly though, a minute later Billy Kee produced his worthy match-winner to leave Brewers fans in raptures.
CHESTERFIELD 2-1 OXFORD UNITED
A strange match ensued at the Proact Stadium, with the three goals coming in the 1st, 45th and 90th minutes. Oxford had taken a lead through a back post header from John Mullins, and Tommy Lee was forced into a great save from Jake Forster-Caskey. Chris Wilder’s half-time team talk was ruined on the stroke of the half-time whistle, as Liam Cooper rattled one in for the leveller. A hotly contested second period appeared to be fading out to a draw, but Chris Atkinson slid a shot inside the far post for a last-gasp winner to leave Oxford fans fuming once again.
FLEETWOOD TOWN 3-0 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE
A comfortable victory for Fleetwood left them on the cusp of the play-off places. The opener came after just ninety seconds, when a Jamie McGuire overhead kick set up David Ball to finish. Ball almost claimed a second, but his effort was cleared off the line. The relief for Plymouth did not last long though, as captain Darren Purse was sent off for a second bookable offence. Still the Pilgrims clung on in there, but their spirited resistance was finally broken on 83 minutes, as a Curtis Obeng cross was turned agonisingly into his own net by Curtis Nelson. The last minute saw the job finished via the boot of Junior Brown.
GILLINGHAM 2-1 MORECAMBE
Leaders Gillingham saw off Morecambe courtesy of a last-minute winner from veteran Deon Burton. A Barry Roche gaffe led to Lewis Montrose opening the scoring, but Morecambe fought back with a 69th minute equaliser from substitute Jack Renshaw. It looked like an unlikely point for the Shrimpers, but a classic chest control and swivelled half-volley from Burton stole the show for Mad Dog’s men, putting them seven points clear.
NORTHAMPTON TOWN 3-1 WYCOMBE WANDERERS
Adebayo Akinfenwa must have self-immolated recently, because he really is on fire. Hot on the heels of his hat-trick last week, he grabbed a brace against Wycombe with a classic header and penalty conversion. Charles Dunne had struck the post early on for Wycombe, but Akinfenwa’s intervention put the Cobblers in control. Wycombe threw men forward which played right into Northampton’s hands, as they launched a counter-attack, culminating in a killer third from Chris Hackett. A penalty was dispatched by Joel Grant to give a glimmer of hope, but it proved a false dawn for Wanderers, with the only team going close to scoring again being Northampton, as Akinfenwa was denied a second successive hat-trick by the woodwork.
PORT VALE 2-2 YORK CITY
A stupendous comeback from the Minstermen stunned second-placed Port Vale, who have now gone five games without a win. The Valiants, who were second best for most of the contest, went ahead against the run of play through Ryan Burge converting a rebound. Chris Smith was adjudged to have handled in the area, and Jennison Myrie-Williams dispatched the spot-kick a minute before half-time to leave York with a mountain to climb. But climb it they did, and Alex Rodman finished coolly on 67 minutes to halve the deficit, before Jamie Reed stabbed home with a minute left to cap a glorious comeback.
ROCHDALE 2-1 BRISTOL ROVERS
Rochdale claimed a victory despite being behind, but were helped a lot by the Pirates ending the game with nine men. David Clarkson’s 14th minute foray into enemy territory led to him being brought down and converting the resultant penalty to cheer the away hordes, but Andrew Tuttle cancelled this out in the 27th minute, following an excellent Phil Edwards dummy. Gary Kenneth and Elliot Richard were both sent off, before a deflected winner on the hour, courtesy of Bobby Grant.
ROTHERHAM UNITED 4-2 CHELTENHAM TOWN
The Millers had summer signing Daniel Nardiello to thank for seeing off promotion challengers Cheltenham at the New York Stadium. The ex-Manchester United youngster has not made as much of an impact as was hoped, but was the undoubted difference here, as Nardiello headed in to equalise Keith Lowe’s 1st minute opener, and then added to Ben Pringle’s goal to put the game beyond the visitors. There was still time for another goal to set up a tense finale, from Cheltenham’s Chris Zebroski, but the game was finally killed off with a Lee Frecklington strike for the Millers. Cheltenham hang on in the automatic places, while Rotherham move up to eighth.
TORQUAY UNITED 1-4 SOUTHEND UNITED
Torquay’s unbeaten home record was obliterated within an hour, as their chance of a recovery was ended by the subsequent dismissal of Lee Mansell. Shrimps’ top scorer Britt Assombalonga and Gavin Tomlin both claimed a brace to demolish the Gulls, who scored a futile consolation to make it 4-1. Southend move into the top ten on the back of this superb away day.