Wednesday, 28 November 2012

League Two round-up: 24/11/12

There wasn’t a single goalless draw last weekend in League Two and the points were shared on only two occasions. There were goals aplenty as well with a number of teams scoring three and only six teams out of the twenty-four failing to hit the back of the net. The game of the day undoubtedly came at the Memorial Stadium where struggling Bristol Rovers met Bradford, who sit at the other end of the table.
It’s fair to say Rovers went away from the game unhappy with only a point, particularly given they were ahead three times – but when you’re at the wrong end of the table luck always seems to go against you. The home side went in front within the opening two minutes when newly-signed Guy Branston scored. It was the defender’s first touch having joined from fellow strugglers Aldershot earlier in the week. The Bantam’s top scorer, Nahki Wells hit back before the half-hour mark, but the Gas went into the break with the lead – Tom Eaves’ low drive enough to separate the sides. Bradford equalised again, early in the second half, when Carl McHugh’s header made the score 2-2. There were a further two goals just after the hour – Bristol took the lead for a third time, but Michael Smith’s volley was cancelled out by James Hanson’s leveller six minutes later. The drama didn’t stop there and both sides finished the game a man down – a touchline scuffle ended with a straight red card for Bradford’s Nathan Doyle, while Rovers’ Wayne Brown received a second yellow.
The points were also shared between Accrington Stanley and Gillingham. The League leaders went ahead late in the first half through Myles Weston. But they were reduced to ten men when goalkeeper Stuart Nelson brought down Stanley’s Padraig Amond. The first thing substitute keeper Tommy Forecast had to do was pick the ball out of the net as James Beattie levelled for the home side with his spot-kick – his second goal in three games. The 10 men of Gillingham managed to hold onto a point, but the gap between themselves and Port Vale in second has been closed to just two points.
Victory for Vale saw them extend their unbeaten run to six games and capitalise on Gillingham dropping points yet again. Aldershot are back in the relegation zone following their defeat, with Wycombe also picking up a win. A 17th minute strike from Ben Williamson put Vale ahead but Aldershot pegged them back through Dani Lopez’ header. That was the loanee’s third goal in as many games since joining from Stevenage. Two second half goals from the visitors killed the game off: first Ryan Burge was in the right place at the right time after Tom Pope’s initial chance was saved and then Jennison Myrie-Williams scored from the penalty spot after he was fouled in the area.
Also at the top, Cheltenham remain in third following their home win against the League’s bottom side, Barnet. The Bees could have taken the lead when Darren Carter’s handball gave Mark Byrne the opportunity to convert from the spot. Scott Brown kept the score at 0-0 when he saved Byrne’s penalty and Barnet were to rue that mistake when Cheltenham scored 10 minutes from time – a 25-yard shot from substitute Jeff Goulding enough to hand the Robins all three points.
Southend move up to fourth following their 3-1 win against Rochdale, who themselves drop out of the playoff places. Dale took the lead early in the second half when Terry Gornell scored his first goal for the club since joining on loan from Shrewsbury. But two goals in as many minutes from Southend swung the game in their favour – their equaliser came from the in-form Britt Assombalonga and they took the lead through Gavin Tomlin. A Marc Laird chip extended their advantage with over 10 minutes remaining.
A single goal for Rotherham against playoff rivals Exeter was also the Grecians’ first loss in five league games. Defender Ian Sharp secured all three points for the Millers when his header late in the first period hit the back of the net. However, Rotherham were reduced to 10 men towards the end after substitute Mitchell Rose saw red for his foul on Aaron Dawson.
Elsewhere there were surprise wins for Wycombe, who climb out of the bottom two after their 3-0 drubbing of Burton Albion, while a stoppage-time penalty for Dagenham & Redbridge saw them overcome high-flying Fleetwood. Matt McClure opened the scoring for Wanderers when he reacted quickest to Dean Lyness’ parry. Burton’s afternoon then went from bad to worse when they were reduced to 10 men – Zander Diamond hauled down McClure and Joel Grant duly put away the resulting penalty. Wycombe added a third five minutes later when McClure scored his second brace in a week. Despite back-to-back defeats, the Brewers remain in the top half of the table. Fleetwood continue to stay in the playoffs, despite losing to Dagenham. With the game looking like a goalless stalemate, the home side were awarded a penalty in injury time after Sam Williams was felled by Youl Mawene – Williams stepped up, putting away the spot kick and handing the Daggers a dramatic winner.
Wimbledon continue to struggle and are a point above the drop zone; a comfortable win for Morecambe was largely thanks to a hat-trick from Kevin Ellison. The midfielder opened the scoring after seven minutes, before doubling the Shrimps lead when he latched on to Stewart Drummond’s through-ball. Wimbledon halved the deficit when Jack Midson scored from the spot, but Ellison grabbed his hat-trick and restored Morecambe’s two-goal cushion with a little over 10 minutes remaining. The task became even harder for the Dons when defender Paul McCallum was dismissed minutes later.
Also at the bottom, Plymouth were beaten by a solitary goal when they hosted Chesterfield. Marc Richards delivered the deciding strike midway through the second half, Jack Lester supplying the assist.
Oxford won their first league game of the month, beating Northampton 2-1 in a closely contested encounter. The hosts were a goal-up at half time – James Constable’s tap-in separating the sides after forty-five minutes. The Cobblers were back on level terms when a Chris Hackett cross was met by Clive Platt. But the Us restored their lead minutes later – Jon-Paul Pittman firing home. Northampton had on-loan defender Clark Carlisle sent off for two bookable offences late on, making a comeback even less likely.
Finally in League Two, Torquay won their second away game of the season, also consigning York to their seventh game in all competitions without a win. A goal in each half for the Gulls saw the Minstermen slip to 17th. Danny Stevens latched on to Kevin Nicholson’s low cross early in the game before Joe Oastler bundled home midway through the second period.
With this weekend dedicated to the second round of the FA Cup, there are just the three fixtures scheduled for League Two, with teams playing catch-up. Wycombe and Bristol Rovers meet, both teams looking to push further away from the drop zone, while Torquay host Dagenham & Redbridge and York travel to Rochdale.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Two minutes with… Oxford United

Following our first round FA Cup clash a couple of weeks ago, Oxford were the visitors again at Underhill last Tuesday. Oxford fan, Myles, gives his views in this instalment of ‘Two minutes with...’.

Had you been to Underhill before?
No. This was my first time. As it's Barnet's last season at Underhill I was keen to make the visit, despite the horrible weather! It's my closest game to where I now live so seemed daft to miss despite a lack of enthusiasm on my part.
How did you get to the game?
A quick drive down the M1 from Luton.

The match
Whereabouts in the ground did you sit/stand?
At the back of the East Terrace, about mid-way down the side.
What did you make of the game?
Well, it wasn't exactly a classic! That said, despite this clearly being two poor teams, both were trying to play a bit of decent football – to greater or lesser effect, and not helped by the constant rain. On the Barnet side, Clovis Kamdjo is clearly a limited player, but his desire and determination meant that he largely ran the midfield, constantly looking for the ball and trying to create something. This was in marked contrast to Oxford's Peter Leven who has the talent to be one of the best midfielders in this league but went missing in this game. In fact, it was Leven standing off and failing to make a challenge which was the start of the build up to Barnet's second goal.
The referee had a generally quiet game and seemed to be cutting the players a little slack to account for the greasy conditions. He did produce one complete howler though when giving a free-kick for a back-pass to the Barnet keeper which actually came from a mishit clearance 25 yards out which looped skywards and backwards into the six-yard box.
Who (from either side) do you think deserved to be man of the match?
As above, Clovis Kamdjo would be my man of the match.

Was the score line a fair reflection on the game?
Yes, a 2-2 draw was about fair. If anything, Barnet probably just about deserved to take the three points, as they had the better efforts to snatch a winner. To be honest, I wouldn't have been unhappy as usual at such a defeat as it would almost certainly have seen Chris Wilder getting the sack. I'm fairly sure that he is now a dead man walking and, unless we go on a run of wins, the next defeat is likely to see a change.
Who do you play next, and how do you think you’ll get on?
We have Northampton at home next. With Jonny Mullins being recalled from his loan by Rotherham, I'm concerned that our back line won't be able to deal with Akinfenwa who can be a bit of a human battering ram. Being at home, I hope we can get a draw but I wouldn't be too surprised to see us lose this one.

Cost of match day ticket
£16 for a terrace is about the going rate these days. ––– 7/10
Purchases made at ground
Again, the programme was around average for the league, but maybe a touch advert heavy. I always love spotting the classic, local companies linking their product to the club however odd it may appear – official Barnet FC coffin anyone?! ––– 7/10
Not a bad view from the back of what was a fairly shallow terrace. You know you're at a traditional old ground though when the view is partly obscured by large pillars! ––– 7/10
Quality of football
Two teams appearing low on confidence and, to a lesser extent, skill and not helped by the weather conditions. Not a classic, but it could have been a lot worse. ––– 5/10
Overall experience
As ever, the low point of a trip to football is the football itself! My lack of enthusiasm for the game wasn't misplaced, but the gallows humour on the terrace made it more bearable. ––– 6/10
Total ––– 32/50
And you can follow Myles on Twitter @MylesOUFC

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

League Two round-up: 20/11/12

Despite it being another Tuesday night of Champions League football, teams of Leagues One and Two were still in action. In League Two there were shock results at both ends of the table, with vital points being won. With it being all-change yet again at the bottom of the Football League’s basement division, the round-up begins with the three clubs fighting over that all-important 22nd place.
A single goal was enough to take Aldershot out of the bottom two, after they beat Burton Albion 1-0 at the Pirelli. A fourth minute effort from on-loan striker Dani Lopez saw the loanee bag his second goal in as many games since joining from League One’s Stevenage. You could almost forgive Albion for being tired, given it was their third game in six days, with an FA Cup replay against Altrincham last Thursday night preceding two league matches.
Meanwhile, a point wasn’t enough for Barnet against Oxford and they go back to prop up the rest of the division. Jake Hyde opened the scoring for the Bees on four minutes but their lead was cut short in dramatic fashion, as Oxford equalised 90 seconds from the restart. Sean Rigg’s powerful strike levelled the scoring and the visitors took the lead early in the second half – yet another set-piece proving the hosts’ undoing – when Andy Whing’s header hit the back of the net. Twenty minutes from time, Hyde bagged his second and the Bees’ equaliser when he latched on to a well-judged cross from Ricky Holmes. Barnet are two points from safety, a point behind Wycombe who move up to 23rd following their shock win away at Rotherham.
Wanderers came from behind twice and probably thought it wouldn’t be their evening when Daniel Nardiello netted after 18 seconds to put the Millers ahead. A Josh Scowan free kick met the head of Dave Winfield for the equaliser but Steve Evans’ men regained the lead when Mark Bradley struck minutes later. Two goals in five second half minutes won it for Wycombe and with 35 left on the clock, they managed to hold on for a vital three points. A double for Matt McClure settled it – first the equaliser from inside the penalty box, before lobbing Andy Warrington in the Rotherham goal to grab the winner that saw them off the bottom.
There were surprises, too, at the top of the table. Gillingham remain league leaders but their lead has been cut to four points after a five-goal thriller against Exeter City saw them on the losing end. Chris Whelpdale struck an early close-range shot to give the Gills the lead, but a free kick from Alan Gow made it all-square halfway through the opening period. The Grecians went in front in the second half when the in-form Jamie Cureton netted his fourth in as many games. A 79th minute goal from Danny Jackman levelled the scores for the second time in the game and set up a dramatic final 10 minutes. Cureton grabbed his second goal on 87 minutes and could have easily had a hat-trick and prior to their winner, Exeter were awarded a penalty. A foul on Steve Tully by Gillingham’s Romain Vincelot gave Cureton the opportunity to net from the spot – but Stuart Nelson denied him.
Also at the top, Cheltenham remain in third despite their 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Chesterfield. The Spireites were two goals to the good at the break – Chris Atkinson got their opener before Sam Togwell was quickest to pounce once Tendayi Darikwa’s shot cannoned off the crossbar. A second half header from Kaid Mohamed gave the visitors hope, but any chance of a comeback was shattered once Marc Richard’s restored Chesterfield’s two-goal cushion and Jack Lester added a fourth towards the end.
Port Vale were able to capitalise on Gillingham’s slip-up, closing the gap, while compounding the misery on Bristol Rovers, sitting in peril towards the bottom of the table. A 47 minute hat-trick for Vale’s Tom Pope made him the fastest player in the club’s history to score three goals, his first coming in the game’s opening 20 minutes. Pope was on the score sheet again minutes later, this time with a close-range header before Ben Williams added to their tally, making it game over at the break. Pope rounded off the victory in style when he completed his hat-trick halfway through the second half and, on an individual level, Vale’s front-man tops the goal tally chart with 19 for the season.
There were also big wins for Southend, who travelled to AFC Wimbledon, and Northampton who continued their good form against Morecambe.
Wimbledon are now two points clear of the drop-zone, following their large home defeat to Southend. Gavin Tomlin netted first for the Shrimpers as they held a goal’s lead at the interval. Ryan Cresswell added a second with half an hour remaining before Tomlin struck again for his fourth in two games, heading in from Kevan Hurst’s free kick. With no way back for the Dons, Barry Corr completed the rout in the game’s dying stages.
Adebayo Akinfenwa was on Northampton’s score sheet again last night when he scored first at Sixfields. Despite a goalless first half, the Cobblers were gifted a second minutes later after Kevin Ellison’s header hit the back of his own net. A curling free kick that went straight in from Ishmel Demontagnac gave Northampton a 3-0 win, all three points and sees them a point off the play-offs.
A solitary goal for Bradford City against Plymouth Argyle mounted continuing pressure on Carl Fletcher. The Bantams’ victory was marred by the injury to John Egan and the defender on-loan from Sunderland was stretchered off before 20 minutes had even been played – a broken leg, which could potentially end his season – ensuring seven minutes of first half stoppage time. Bradford’s goal, however, came minutes after that incident and Gary Jones earned his side all three points, keeping them in the play-off places.
Finally Fleetwood lost their first league game in seven when they faced Accrington Stanley. Recent big-name signing James Beattie scored his debut goal as a Stanley player – and his first in three years – converting from the penalty spot after Rommy Boco was fouled in the area. George Miller doubled the visitor’s advantage before Boco scored a third. A consolation goal for Fleetwood was just that – Jamie McGuire firing in from close-range. Fleetwood stay in fourth, whilst Accrington move up three places to 14th.
On Saturday: Gillingham will be looking to return to winning ways when they travel to Accrington, Port Vale and Aldershot meet with both teams looking to win for differing reasons, Cheltenham host the league’s bottom club Barnet and Wycombe entertain Burton, hoping to make it back-to-back wins.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

League Two round-up: 17/11/12

It was yet another exciting weekend in League Two this weekend with some high-scoring games, late winners and important points being won at the top and bottom of the league. This weekend’s round-up begins with league leaders, Gillingham, who extended their lead at the top to seven points.
The Gills left it late to secure all three points at Priestfield against Morecambe. Lewis Montrose put the home side ahead on 37th minutes before Jack Redshaw levelled the scores midway through the second half. A point for both sides was looking likely but a very late strike from Deon Burton handed victory to Gillingham. Post-match, Martin Allen described his side as “relentless” and the Gills have home advantage again on Tuesday night as they host Exeter.
There was also a late winner for Chesterfield. Visiting Oxford took the lead in the opening minute. Johnny Mullins’ back-post header looked set to separate the sides before the half time whistle sounded, but the Spireites equalised through Liam Cooper’s 12-yard strike after a corner hadn’t been cleared by Oxford’s defence – four minutes into first half stoppage time. And the hosts left it later to grab the winner – two minutes into the five added on at the end of the 90, to be exact – a neat back-heel set up Chris Atkinson to complete the turnaround. Chesterfield leapfrog Oxford and sit in 16th.
Elsewhere there was a five-goal thriller at the Pirelli, including two fantastic goals, when Burton played hosts to Dagenham & Redbridge. An early goal for Cheltenham wasn’t enough for them as they succumbed to a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Rotherham.
Dean Lyness, on his Burton Albion debut, conceded a penalty in the first half and although he saved Mickey Spillane’s effort, there was nothing he could do about the rebound, which Dwight Gayle coolly put away to send Dagenham in front. The home side turned it around, however, with two goals in as many minutes: first former Dagger, Damien McCrory levelled the scores with his deflected shot before the Brewers went in front through Matt Paterson’s neat finish. The Daggers thought they had secured a point with just over 10 minutes left to play – Luke Wilkinson, at error for Burton’s second goal, set up Sam Williams and his fierce shot hit the back of the net. But Billy Kee’s goal a minute later restored Burton’s lead; his volley, a worthy winner in any game.
Meanwhile, Cheltenham got off to a flyer at the New York stadium when Keith Lowe struck in the first minute. The hosts hit back immediately and a fourth minute header from Daniel Nardiello levelled the scores, before Ben Pringle put the Millers in front halfway through the first half. Nardiello got his second of the game to increase the home side’s advantage but a tap-in from Chris Zebroski gave the visiting side some hope of getting back into the game. However it was game over once a quick free-kick by Cheltenham immediately handed possession back to their opponents and allowed Lee Frecklington to net late on. The Robins remain in third, while Rotherham move up to 8th.
There were also big wins in League Two this weekend for Fleetwood and Southend. Torquay suffered their first home defeat of the season when Southend travelled to Devon. Gavin Tomlin put the Shrimpers ahead, before he turned provider for Britt Assombalonga to double their lead and the Watford loanee bagged his second before the first half was out – converting Kevan Hurst’s corner. That was his 11th of the season. Tomlin was on the score sheet again, a minute into the second forty-five, tapping in from close range after evading Torquay defenders and Martin Rice between the sticks. While a 52nd minute goal from Ryan Jarvis was no more than a consolation for the Gulls, they also had skipper Lee Mansell sent off and had to see the final half hour out a man down.
In Lancashire, Fleetwood went ahead early against Plymouth Argyle – within the opening 90 seconds, an audacious overhead kick from Jamie McGuire set-up David Ball to head home. The Pilgrims day went from bad to worse once skipper, Darren Purse was sent off following two bookable offences. The hosts allowed their man advantage to count and in pressing for a second goal, Curtis Obeng’s cross was turned in to his own net by Argyle’s Curtis Nelson, before Junior Brown bagged a third. Victory sees Fleetwood back to fourth in table. Staying in the North West, Rochdale ran away winners despite going behind against struggling Bristol Rovers. A David Clarkson penalty put Rovers ahead, after Ryan Edwards fouled Wayne Brown in the area. Those hosts levelled halfway through the opening period with Andrew Tutte netting from a corner and the winner came in the second half – Bobby Grant’s shot taking a deflection leaving Neil Etheridge little option but to pick the ball out of the back of his net again. The misery was compounded on the visiting side who received two dismissals late on – Garry Kenneth was the first to walk after two yellow cards and then a wild lunge on Ashley Grimes gave referee Scott Duncan no option but to show a straight red to Eliot Richards. Dale cement their place in the playoffs whilst the Gas remain in danger, three points clear of the relegation zone.
It was all-change at the bottom of League Two as Barnet sat in their familiar place of 22nd and Aldershot were replaced at the bottom by Wycombe Wanderers. In Friday night’s encounter at Underhill, there were former international players on both sides – Edgar Davids captaining the Bees and former England striker James Beattie on the bench for Accrington Stanley. Accrington went ahead against the run of play in the second half: a route one ball kindly finding Rommy Boco. Despite his initial shot being saved by Graham Stack, the ball fell straight back to his feet and giving Boco the simple task of slotting the ball into an empty net. The Bees equalised for the first time this season when a penalty was awarded for Lee Molyneux’s clip on Ricky Holmes. Mark Byrne’s spot kick was saved by Ian Dunbavin in the Stanley goal, before the referee ordered a re-take and at the second attempt, the midfielder put it away. The drama didn’t stop there and Barnet had to see the last five minutes with 10 men after Davids picked up his second yellow card, for his challenge on Beattie.
Aldershot, too, picked up a point when they travelled to AFC Wimbledon. Dani Lopez on-loan from Stevenage put the Shots ahead on the stroke of half time, pouncing on a corner. But 13 minutes from time, the Dons levelled – a free kick from Stacy Long going straight in.
At Sixfields, in-form Adebayo Akinfenwa was the key man for the Cobblers as they entertained struggling Wycombe. The big man scored their opener before netting from the penalty spot on the hour mark, for his sixth goal in three games. Northampton added a third to ensure maximum points, Chris Hackett this time on the score sheet. A foul by Danny East on Dean Morgan gave Joel Grant an opportunity from the spot, which he duly put away but Wanderers sit at the bottom of the league for the first time this season.
Elsewhere a solitary goal from Jamie Cureton handed Exeter victory against Bradford and Port Vale’s winless run was extended to five games as they only managed a point at home to York. Vale were two goals up at half time through Ryan Burge and a Jennison Myrie-Williams penalty, but York battled in the second half – Alex Rodman and Jamie Reed ensuring a point a-piece.
Tuesday night sees some tricky away trips: Plymouth travel to Bradford and Bristol Rovers head to Port Vale. At the bottom, Wycombe make the difficult journey to Rotherham and Aldershot also play away from home, at Burton. There’s a Lancashire derby as Fleetwood host Accrington Stanley and Barnet and Oxford meet at Underhill in a repeat of their FA Cup first round tie – on that occasion the visitors ran out 2-0 winners.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

League Two round-up: 10/11/12

There were goals galore last weekend in League Two, with the net being found no fewer than 38 times. The round-up begins with shock result at Victoria Road where Dagenham & Redbridge took on Rotherham.
The Daggers secured a second successive victory which saw them move up to 14th and further away from the dreaded drop-zone following their five goal demolition of Steve Evans’ Millers side. Dwight Gayle put the home side a goal up as early as the fifth minute and their lead was doubled by half time – Luke Howell netting after a great run down the left wing by midfielder, Femi Illesanmi. The third goal didn’t come until midway through the second period and it was Howell with his second of the game. With only 10 minutes remaining, there was still time for the Daggers to extend their advantage – Medy Elito drilled home for the fourth goal and Gayle grabbed his brace in the dying minutes with his well-timed header. Defeat for Rotherham sees them outside the playoffs and the last time Dagenham won by five clear goals, they beat Shrewsbury in August, 2008.
Six goals were scored when Northampton met Accrington at the Crown Ground in an entertaining encounter – a hat-trick for big man Adebayo Akinfenwa being a particular highlight and helping secure the points for the Cobblers. Akinfenwa was the first man onto the score sheet after 17 minutes – heading home from Joe Widdowson’s cross. Stanley levelled the score before half time through George Miller’s curler and the hosts took the lead the other side of the whistle – Rommy Boco with the goal. 10 minutes later, Northampton equalised with Jake Robinson scoring from close range. Akinfenwa’s second came two minutes later with, giving Northampton the lead and 15 minutes from time Bayo bagged his hat-trick with a neat volley.
Barnet’s decent run came to an abrupt end when they travelled to the Globe Arena to take on Morecombe – the hosts running out 4-1 victors. It was game over after 10 minutes with the opening two goals killing any chance of a comeback. Kevin Ellison fired the Shrimps in front before Andy Fleming doubled their advantage, Two late second half penalties wrapped up all three points for the home side – first given for a Barry Fuller foul on Lewis Alessandra and then a Krystian Pearce handball, allowing Richard Brodie to net twice in five minutes. A stoppage goal by the Bees’ striker Jon Nurse was no more than a consolation, but Barnet stay in 23rd.
Elsewhere at the bottom, there were also losses for Wycombe (who took on Rochdale) and Aldershot (hosting Bradford). At Adams Park, Dale took an early lead through Ashley Grimes, but the hosts hit back 20 minutes later when Joel Grant chipped Josh Lillis between the sticks. A late winner in stoppage time for Grant – this time Rochdale’s Bobby – handed the visitors all three points, pushing them into the playoffs and leaving Wanderers hang precariously above the relegation zone. Meanwhile Aldershot continue to prop-up the rest of the division as a brace from Nahki Wells gave Bradford a 2-0 win – with both goals coming in the first period. A misplaced back-pass from Shots’ Sonny Bradley allowed Wells to latch onto a deserved opening goal and his second came after being in the right place at the right time – netting after James Hanson had his initial shot saved.
A late winner from Bristol Rovers handed them victory against Chesterfield – in a game containing five goals. An own-goal from Spireites’ defensive midfielder Sam Togwell gifted Rovers an early advantage, but Mark Randall equalised with his free-kick. The Gas retook the lead after the break – Joe Anyinsah latching onto Tom Eaves’ cross – before the score was levelled again. A debut goal from Brennan Dickenson (on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion) from 18 yards out was later cancelled out by the winner for Rovers. Tom Eaves turned from provider to scorer and got his name on the score sheet when his shot went in via a deflection.
Having also been drawn against each other in the first round proper of the FA Cup, York and AFC Wimbledon met in the league last weekend. The Minstermen’s six-game unbeaten run was put to an end with a 3-0 win for the Dons, at Bootham Crescent. An uneventful first half saw both teams go in all-square, but Wimbledon ran rampant in the second period. Byron Harrison struck from the edge of the penalty area to open the scoring. Two goals in the final 10 minutes secured the points: Stacy Long, recalled to the side, doubled their lead. The third and final goal came from the spot – Charlie Strutton brought down in the area and Jack Midson converting the consequent penalty.
There was also a win for Cheltenham who hosted Burton Albion. A solitary goal from Chris Zebroski four minutes from the final whistle extended the Robins’ unbeaten run to five matches.
Four goals were shared between Exeter and Fleetwood, and Plymouth who entertained league-leaders, Gillingham. At Home Park, a late equaliser from Adam Barrett gave the Gills a share of the spoils. Argyle took the lead through Curtis Nelson’s strike just after the half-hour mark, but Gillingham hit back minutes later when Ben Strevens got his first goal as a Gills player. With 10 minutes remaining, Luke Young looked set to hand all three points to the Pilgrims but former-Argyle player Barrett equalised ensuring both teams would finish the game as they started. Fleetwood made it two consecutive league wins in a row as they couldn’t hold on to their lead against Exeter. The visitors went ahead twice in the game – first early on when Steve McNulty converted from Dean Howell’s free-kick; Jamie Cureton equalising for Exeter midway through the opening forty-five. The Cod Army retook the lead when Barry Nicholson latched on to a through-ball and slotted past City keeper, Artur Krysiak. But the Grecians levelled again through John O’Flynn’s spot-kick with just over half an hour remaining.
The points were also shared between Oxford and Torquay, and Southend and Port Vale who played out uninspiring goalless draws.

League Two round-up: 06/11/12

With the first round proper of the FA Cup being played last weekend, it was back to the bread and butter of the league on Tuesday night, with all teams in action (barring Plymouth and Burton who met on Wednesday at Home Park). Whilst there was no change to the top of the table in League Two, there was at the bottom, which is where the round-up begins.
It was 22nd versus 23rd as Wycombe met Aldershot in an early six-pointer. Victory for the Shots would see them dump Wanderers in the drop zone, whilst a draw or loss for either side could see them bottom of the Football League – dependent on Barnet’s result, of course! Aldershot had Anthony Tonkin sent off for two bookable offences with half an hour played and to their credit, did well to hold on with 10 men. Both teams had opportunities to snatch the win: Peter Vincenti had a couple of chances he should have done better with for the hosts, whilst their keeper pulled off a fine fingertip save to keep out Chairboys’ Gareth Ainsworth. So it finished all-square at the Recreation Ground but a point was not really enough for either side and Aldershot prop up the rest of the league, following Barnet’s win against Torquay. A late solitary goal from Clovis Kamdjo was enough in a smash-and-grab for the Bees. The visitors were certainly the better side in the first half – Graham Stack in the Barnet goal pulling off a number of saves he made look routine. The hosts rallied in the second half, whilst the Gulls came off the gas and with little over 10 minutes remaining Kamdjo netted – also winning the prestigious ‘Man of the Match’ award. The stats since Edgar Davids arrival certainly paint a picture – the Bees won three points from a possible 36 pre-Davids and have since won three of their last four. Wycombe, Barnet and Aldershot are all on 13 points, with Wycombe’s slightly superior goal difference keeping them above the relegation zone – a point behind Bristol Rovers and AFC Wimbledon.
It was a third consecutive league defeat for Bristol Rovers who played out a five-goal thriller against Southend. Fabian Broghammer opened the scoring for the Gas in the 10th minute, but the visitors broke level when Marc Laird’s through-ball set up Gavin Tomlin. Southend took the lead just before the first half whistle was sounded – Kevan Hurst on the score sheet – and they doubled their advantage, courtesy of a Ryan Cresswell header. An 86th minute penalty scored by David Clarkson proved no more than a consolation for Rovers and a late equaliser looked even less likely once substitute Oliver Norburn saw red for a foul on Ryan Leonard. Meanwhile, AFC Wimbledon continue to struggle, also handing Exeter their first home win since mid-September. The Grecians had the best of the chances in the opening period and a goal just after the half-hour mark was richly deserved – Jamie Cureton smashing his shot into the bottom corner. Despite a better performance from the Dons in the second half, Exeter secured all three points when they doubled their lead and John O’Flynn struck home with 20 minutes left to play.
Elsewhere at the Kassam, there were goals galore as Oxford hosted Dagenham + Redbridge – a game which included three goals in five minutes. The Daggers were a goal up at half time – a header from Sam Williams in the 36th minute separating the sides. Luke Howell doubled their lead early in the second half when he tapped home, but Tom Craddock pulled one back for Oxford. Two minutes later, Luke Wilkinson restored Dagenham’s two-goal cushion but Craddock netted his – and Oxford’s – second on 65 minutes.  In a busy period of play, Daggers’ Kevin Maher was shown a second yellow but they managed to hold on to victory and move up to 15th.
Gillingham remain top of League Two but failed to extend that lead, drawing with Cheltenham 0-0. A point also keeps the Robins in third place. Port Vale also stay in second after they played out a 2-2 draw with Rochdale. Another brace from the in-form Tom Pope – one in each half – put the home side two goals up. It took a sending off for Vale’s Sam Morsy (who fouled Jason Kennedy) to swing the game in Dale’s favour and they certainly allowed their man-advantage to count. Rochdale pulled a first goal back through Bobby Grant’s header before a long-range effort from Andrew Tutte gave them a share of the spoils.
Also towards the top, it was fourth versus sixth as Fleetwood and Rotherham met. Two goals in three minutes early on left both teams in the same position as they started. The Millers went ahead when Fleetwood’s keeper, Scott Davies, made a mess of Mark Bradley’s free kick and allowed Kari Arnsaon to pounce. But the home side levelled through experienced striker, Jon Parkin.
York and Northampton also played out a draw at Bootham Crescent, leaving the Minstermen a point away from the playoffs. It was the home side that went ahead on the 23rd minute through Matty Blair. Despite having Louis Moult dismissed towards the end of the first half, Adebayo Akinfenwa equalised for the Cobblers with a tap-in and Town managed to hold on for a point.
There were also goalless draws between Bradford, hosting Chesterfield and Accrington who travelled to Morecambe.


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Two minutes with… Torquay United

Last night saw another ‘entertaining’ evening of floodlight football at Underhill, as the Bees hosted Torquay. Gulls’ fan John, gives his thoughts in this instalment of ‘Two minutes with...’

Had you been to Underhill before?
Yes, I had, for the last two seasons running (a 3-0 and a 1-0 win for us). It’s a ground I’ve always really enjoyed visiting, especially under the floodlights, as there’s something very atmospheric about the place. I’ll be really sad to see Barnet move out at the end of the season.
How did you get to the game?
The same as most – a half hour trip on the delightful Northern Line! As always, very easy to find from the station.

The match
Whereabouts in the ground did you sit/stand?
I was in the away section, naturally, and in the terraced section along the side of the pitch. I’ve always thought the view was slightly better from there than in the seats, although there’s always a pillar right where you don’t need it! A fairly reasonable price to get in, though, and a decent programme.
What did you make of the game?
It was a tale of two halves from our perspective. I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest we deserved a goal in the first half. Some of our build-up and approach play was excellent, and our two wingers were giving the Barnet full-backs a torrid time. It was almost constant Torquay pressure for long spells, as we bombarded the box with crosses, but we just didn’t take our chances when they came, rarely managing even to hit the target. When we did manage to do so, Graham Stack was found to be in excellent form.
We started the second half brightly, but that only lasted for the first five or ten minutes. You could see the Bees were starting to grow in confidence a little, and, although they didn’t create a great deal, you could sense a Barnet goal coming the longer the match went on.
Of course it did and, as much as our players and manager have repeatedly said after the game on Twitter and in interviews about how we were robbed, you can’t complain if you don’t take your chances.
Who (from either side) do you think deserved to be man of the match?
This is a tough one, as nobody particularly stood out on either side for me. I think, for us, our man of the match would one of our two centre backs, Brian Saah or Aaron Downes, both of which had an excellent game. They dealt with everything that came their way, and looked as imperious as they have all season.
For Barnet, I think it’s got to be Graham Stack. The few times we actually managed to get a shot on target, he thwarted us with some excellent saves, which he made look routine and ordinary. Very impressive.

Was the score line a fair reflection on the game?
I don’t think so, and neither I think could any Barnet fan in their heart of hearts. A draw would probably have been fair as, although we dominated the game, no team deserves to win if they miss that many chances.
Who do you play next, and how do you think you’ll get on?
We have Oxford away on Saturday. I’ll be there and, to be frank, I’m not expecting much. It’s a tough place to go at the best of times – cold, windy, open and with a large and noisy crowd behind the home – and we’ll now be without injured keeper Michael Poke and Rene Howe, making it a tricky prospect indeed. Whilst they’re not having their greatest season, I think I’d take a draw if it was offered now.

Cost of match day ticket
Expensive but par for the course nowadays ––– 7/10
Purchases made at ground
Programme was good...never bother with football ground food anymore ––– 7/10
Not too bad, but the pillars do get in the way, especially when shooting towards the far end ––– 6/10
Quality of football
Decent. We were good, and great to watch Edgar Davids at work, too ––– 8/10
Overall experience
Nice evening despite the result. Be a shame not to visit Underhill again ––– 8/10

Total ––– 36/50

And you can follow John on Twitter @johncadigan


Monday, 5 November 2012

Two minutes with… Oxford United, an FA Cup special

Oxford United travelled to Underhill at the weekend for the first round of the FA Cup. The visitors won the game 2-0. Fan, Kevin, gives his thoughts.

Had you been to Underhill before?
Yeah, I’ve been a few times with Oxford.
How did you get to the game?
I live in London now so got the tube. It only took 30 odd minutes, so nice and easy!

The match
Whereabouts in the ground did you sit/stand?
I was stood in the away end down the side. Always love away stands with a low roof, however the pillars were quite annoying.
What did you make of the game?
I thought we did a professional job against what was unfortunately a poor Barnet side. Was surprised by the decision to leave Davids on the bench for so long, most the home fans picked up when he came on and he made a slight difference. All in all very happy with how we played as so often this season we have dominated and came away with nothing.
Who (from either side) do you think deserved to be man of the match?
For us I thought Constable was our best player, looking back to his best thankfully for us; Rigg on the left put in a good performance. For Barnet, I thought Kamdjo won a few headers and put himself about but other than that no one stood out. Thought Collins John was by far the worst player on the pitch!

Was the score line a fair reflection on the game?
I think so, though we could have scored more to be honest. In the FA Cup it is all about getting to the third round for lower league teams so happy with the win.
Who do you play next, and how do you think you’ll get on?
We have Dagenham on Tuesday and Torquay on Saturday both at home and given our current form we should hopefully have six points, but after years of watching Oxford, it’ll probably be two draws!

Cost of match day ticket
Given Barnet are a London club the cost is not surprising but think you would attract a lot more fans with lower prices ––– 5/10
Purchases made at ground
Took me ages to find someone selling a programme but it is quite a decent read. Food and drink - normal football standard so can’t complain ––– 7/10
If you are in front of the pillars it is ok, but with quite a few away fans in there the views were quite restricted ––– 5/10
Quality of football
Both teams tried to play football to their credit but obviously at that standard it’s not always possible. I thought Barnet were quite poor and have to say Collins John was woeful, expected a lot more from him ––– 7/10
Overall experience
I always enjoy going to Barnet as I am in London and with lots of away fan friendly pubs nearby it is always a fixture I look out for. Really hope you guys stay up and get a new stadium sorted. On a final note, a win in the FA Cup is always good! ––– 8/10

Total ––– 32 /50

And you can follow Kevin on Twitter @kevinspackman