With a couple of local derbies, a top of the table clash and as 1st met 24th, it was always going to be an exciting weekend in League Two. With a handful of teams still awaiting that important first win of the campaign, would there be any surprises? There were of course goals – 41 in total – and it’s at Vale Park where the round-up begins with an eight-goal thriller.
Port Vale took on Steve Evans’ big-spending Rotherham, but it was former Miller Tom Pope who ended up getting all the plaudits. Four goals for the Valiants forward, two in each half saw the hosts cruise to victory. The score line was wrapped up at half time: Louis Dodds, Ashley Vincent and a Pope double saw Vale 4–0 up. A goal in each half for Rotherham, first Michael O’Connor before a Daniel Nardiello penalty saw the Valiants lead halved but a second double from Pope completed the job and it finished Port Vale 6–2 Rotherham.
Elsewhere it was top versus bottom at Underhill as struggling Barnet (still awaiting that first win of the season) took on high-flying Gillingham (unbeaten in the League so far) in the return of Martin ‘Mad Dog’ Allen. Allen got a warm reception from the home crowd following his heroics at the end of last season, but the result was always going to end up one way and it was wrapped up at half time. Two goals in a minute for Jack Payne and Danny Kedwell after some disastrous defending saw the Gills coasting. Jack Saville pulled one back for Barnet – a header from a corner – but Deon Burton restored the two-goal advantage with minutes of the first half left to play. It remained Barnet 1–3 Gillingham, but the visitors didn’t really have to try in the second half; although if they had, it could’ve ended up a cricket score!
Meanwhile at The Kassam, third took on a second in an early top of the table clash. Jamie Cureton scored twice for Exeter, who made it four league wins in a row and the visitors were three goals to the good before Oxford netted no more than a consolation through a Jake Forster-Caskey penalty. Eight minutes later and it was a case of ‘game on!’ as Alfie Potter scored to send the score to 2–3. But John O’Flynn added to the Grecians goal tally and it became an impossible task for the hosts to get back into it when James Constable was sent off. Two bookings in as many minutes with only 10 remaining on the clock but the score stayed Oxford 2–4 Exeter. Exeter remain in second, whilst defeat for Oxford sees them slip down to sixth.
There were comfortable wins for Fleetwood, thrashing Morecambe 4–0 away from home. A hat-trick for Jon Parkin, his first goals in the League for the club since joining as a free agent from Cardiff and a final fourth for Barry Nicholson in the closing minutes ensured the Cod Army had Lancashire bragging rights in their North West derby. Four goals were also scored in Essex as Southend took on Dagenham and Redbridge at Roots Hall. A straight red card as early as the seventh minute for Daggers defender Luke Wilkinson always made it a tough ask for the visitors. This was made all the more difficult when Southend opened the scoring through Britt Assombalonga, and he doubled his – and the team’s – tally before the first half was out. Dwight Gayle pulled one back for Dagenham but the Shrimpers regained their two-goal advantage and wrapped up all three points with 20 minutes remaining: a Ryan Cresswell header guaranteeing Essex would be blue and white, not red and blue!
Bristol Rovers are also still looking for their first win of the season as they could only manage a 2–2 draw at home to Aldershot, largely thanks to a last gasp equaliser by substitute Fabian Broghammer. There was a similar situation at Bootham Crescent where recently promoted York took on Chesterfield. Relegated from League One last season, Chesterfield haven’t yet adapted to life in the basement division and are the third remaining side yet to pick up a win. An equaliser for York’s Jason Walker in the fourth of six added minutes at the end of the game meant it was a point-apiece and the Spireites will have to wait until next weekend to get that important win under their belts.
So to next weekend and there are three teams looking for that first win of the season that would see them push up the table: Barnet travel to Bradford, Bristol Rovers make the difficult journey to Priestfield to take on top of the table Gillingham and two of last year’s relegated sides meet as Chesterfield play hosts to Wycombe (both currently on four points). Elsewhere it’s second versus seventh as Exeter take on York.