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.