League Two: Weekly Round-Up 25/11

Story by Aaron Bliss

Port Vale finally gained some ground on the leaders, while Dagenham and Wycombe both continued their excellent recent runs of form to lift themselves further clear of danger.


Leaders Gillingham were forced to content themselves with a draw, after ex-Premier League star James Beattie scored a late penalty to equalise Myles Weston’s first-half opener. The penalty also saw visiting goalkeeper Stuart Nelson red carded for bringing down Padraig Amond. All went according to plan when Weston seized on a loose ball to drive the ball in, but the tenacity of Stanley, married to the class of Beattie, ensured a share of the spoils.


The Valiants predictably came away from Aldershot with a victory, extending their unbeaten run to six matches while sending the struggling Shots back into the bottom two. Ben Williamson rifled the away side in front, before Aldershot loan star Dani Lopez scored his third in three games to cheer the home fans before the break. Any notions their team would seize the initiative in the second half were dispelled within two minutes, as Tom Pope’s header was saved, with Ryan Burge gobbling up the rebound. Jennison Myrie-Williams picked himself up to convert a penalty in the 76th minute to put the result beyond doubt, meaning the Valiants now sit just two points behind Gillingham.


A barnstorming brouhaha at the Memorial Stadium ended with the Bantams mounting a comeback not once, not twice, but thrice. The plucky Pirates took the lead just two minutes in, when Guy Branston scored with his first touch as a Rovers player, having only just joined on loan from Aldershot, but Bradford found an equaliser from the familiar figure of Nakhi Wells just before the half-hour. Five minutes later, Rovers’ joint top-scorer Tom Eaves drove home, but once again parity was restored, this time from a Carl McHugh header, ten minutes into the second period. Michael Smith volleyed home just seven minutes later, which was cancelled out for the last time by a James Hanson goal. The teams couldn’t even be separated on discipline, with both Nathan Doyle and Wayne Brown seeing red following an unseemly scuffle on the touchline.


The Bees were left ruing a missed penalty, as they were shot down by Cheltenham, despite the return from suspension of Edgar Davids. Graham Stack was exceptionally busy in the Barnet goal, but could not prevent Cheltenham substitute Jeff Goulding firing in a 25-yarder with ten minutes left. The Bees big opportunity came when Darren Carter was adjudged to have handled in the box, but Mark Byrne could not beat Scott Brown, who turned his effort away superbly. Barnet find themselves once again rock bottom, while for Cheltenham, it was the perfect response to their midweek drubbing at Chesterfield.


Dagenham continued their great resurgence with a priceless win over ambitious Fleetwood, courtesy of the most dramatic form of victory: a stoppage time penalty. Cod Army defender Youl Mawene almost gifted the home side a lead early on, but the woodwork came to his rescue from a stinging Jake Reed effort, and it was Mawene who was again the fall guy, when he brought down Sam Williams with seconds to go. Williams himself slotted home the spot-kick, to lead the Daggers to just one defeat in the last six. Fleetwood meanwhile stay snugly ensconced in the play-off zone.


Grecians boss Paul Tisdale actually claimed he loved watching this match, despite his side falling to an Ian Sharp header just before half-time. His praise of Exeter’s commitment was borne out in the stats, and they can consider themselves unlucky on the balance of chances, particularly the one from which Alan Gow rattled the crossbar. The Millers will be delighted at escaping with the win, particularly when substitute Mitchell Rose contrived to get himself sent off in the second half.


Both teams suffered midweek maulings, but it was the Shrimps who responded in style. A classic Kevin Ellison hat-trick saw to the Dons, who responded briefly at 2-0 with a Jack Midsom penalty. To make matters worse for Neal Ardley, defender Paul McCallum was sent off for a foul on Nick Fenton. With a big share of possession, Wimbledon can consider themselves hard done by, though feeling sorry for themselves will not be helpful when they are a single point above the relegation zone.


Oxford managed to tame the beast that is Akinfenwa, and grab themselves an overdue win. Akinfenwa once again scored to help the Cobblers win in midweek, but 7 goals in 4 games proved too much to ask. James Constable scored a long overdue goal fifteen minutes in to give the U’s the lead, and it remained that way until the 76th minute, when Chris Hackett sent in a cross that Clive Platt headed home, to leave the home support with that sinking feeling once more. Northampton shaded the chances and possession, but this meant nothing when Jon-Paul Pittman scored just three minutes later to win the day.


Carl Fletcher bemoaned his side’s ill fortune, as they succumbed to a solitary goal from Marc Richards. The Spireites delighted their fans by bringing on Luis Boa Morte at half-time, and he terrorised the Pilgrims, culminating in his 66th minute cross, chested down by Jack Lester for Richards to finish. Chesterfield came into the game off the back of a 4-1 midweek win over Cheltenham, and continued their fine run, whilst Plymouth lost by the same score as their narrow midweek defeat to Bradford.


Southend moved up to fourth place after a fantastic week for the club, in which they spanked Wimbledon away, and won this game comfortably. After a goalless first period, Dale actually took the lead through loan striker Terry Gornell, minutes into the second half. The Shrimpers roused themselves rapidly though, with prolific Britt Assombalonga netting seven minutes later, Michael Tomlin turning the score on its head two minutes after that, and Marc Laird chipping in a fine third on 77 minutes.


After an excellent away win at Rotherham in the week, Northern Irish striker Matt McClure helped himself to his second consecutive brace to see off a Burton side bemoaning the referee’s decision to send off Zander Diamond, which also saw the crucial second being converted from the penalty spot by Joel Grant. Brewers’ boss Gary Rowett was indignant post-match, insisting the referee got the spot-kick and sending off decisions wrong, but Wycombe’s splendid week sees them rise to 19th, comfortably clear of danger for now.


York’s woes continued as they registered their seventh game without a win. The Gulls snatched a superb win, despite the Minstermen dominating possession and chances. In fact, incredibly, Torquay scored with their only two efforts on target: a remarkable display of clinical finishing. Danny Stevens collected and dispatched a Kevin Nicholson cross on 10 minutes, and Rene Howe set up Joe Oastler for the killer second just after the hour.


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