While it was another weekend of FA Cup action with teams playing for a place in the fifth round, it was business as usual in League Two. With Aldershot still in the Cup, Cheltenham and Rochdale meeting last night (in a game that finished 0-0) and Wycombe’s trip to Bradford postponed due to a frozen pitch, it was up to the 14 teams in action to play for what were, in many cases, some much needed points. Exeter and Torquay also meet tomorrow as they top the bill on Sky’s Monday Night Football programme.
Back to Saturday’s games and the surprise of the day came at the New York Stadium where Rotherham hosted the league’s bottom side, Bristol Rovers. John Ward’s strugglers made it back-to-back wins and move off the foot of the table after securing three vital points. The Gas took the lead late in the first half from the spot – Claude Davis bundled over Ryan Brunt in the box and Lee Brown converted the consequent penalty. Before the half time whistle, things got worse for Rotherham as Davis, the earlier offender, was shown a second yellow and received his marching orders on his debut. Rovers made their man advantage count and doubled their lead seven minutes into the second period through Ellis Harrison’s solo effort. Joe Ansinyah increased the visitors’ advantage before substitute David Noble scored what was to prove no more than a consolation for The Millers. Defeat leaves Steve Evans’ side outside the playoffs on goal difference – Southend and Fleetwood also sit on 43 points.
There was also a big win for Fleetwood who put an end to Oxford’s run of eight games unbeaten. Jamille Matt opened the scoring but it’s unknown how much he really knew about it. With Michael Raynes’ desperate to clear it, the ball ricocheted off the record signing, deceiving Wayne Brown in the process. Two second half strikes for the hosts killed the game off: Ryan Crowther’s first goal for the Cod Army doubled their advantage and Jon Parkin rounded things off with his tap in, late on.
Gillingham missed out on the opportunity to go top of League Two, with Port Vale not in action this weekend. Despite scoring both goals, they had to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw against York. Gills’ midfielder Charlie Lee put through his own net to gift the Minstermen the lead at Priestfield. Cody McDonald rejoined Gillingham on loan earlier in the week (this time from Coventry) and opened his account in his first game back when he levelled the scores five minutes from time. Despite being a point behind Vale, Martin Allen’s men still have a game in hand.
Morecambe went behind against Dagenham & Redbridge but, come the end of the game, went home with maximum points. After a goalless opening period, the Daggers took a second half lead through Luke Wilkinson’s header. Two goals in as many minutes then swung the game in the visitors’ favour but they left it late with the equaliser coming with under 10 minutes left to play. First Stewart Drummond’s 12-yarder levelled the scores before Ryan Williams’ curling effort secured the victory. Dagenham’s loss sees them drop a place, while the Shrimps move up two places to 16th.
There were also narrow victories for Burton and Southend in League Two this weekend. A fourth minute penalty separated Burton and Barnet, who were without player/manager Edgar Davids following his decision to stay in London due to illness. The Bees’ Barry Fuller upended Jacques Maghoma and the midfielder stepped up and converted the spot kick. Barnet are now only a point safe of danger; the Brewers remain in the playoffs. Elsewhere Southend left it late to earn all three points – also ending their run of three games without a win. Gavin Tomlin broke the deadlock in the 83rd minute to snatch a late victory.
In the League’s only other fixture this weekend, the points were shared between Plymouth and Accrington as they played out a stalemate at Home Park. The game’s main talking point was the injury to Stanley’s midfielder Nicky Hunt who was knocked unconscious following a collision with Ronan Murray. With a large amount of time added on at the end of the game, Hunt stayed overnight in hospital having been out cold on the pitch for 10 minutes.
As well as the Devon derby on Monday night there are also games on Tuesday with Gillingham hosting Northampton and Burton’s trip to Oxford. Friday night sees Bristol Rovers host fellow strugglers Barnet in a proverbial six-pointer while next Saturday League leaders Port Vale entertain Accrington and bottom of the table Wimbledon have a tricky test against in-form Burton.