Lucy Waldon brings us another jam-packed weekend of action in League Two.
There were goals galore in the Football League’s basement division this weekend with fans treated to five scored at the Kingsmeadow, Underhill and Spotland. At the top end of the table, the gap between Gillingham and Port Vale was extended to five points; meanwhile at the wrong end, Accrington and Plymouth occupy the dropzone.
AFC Wimbledon’s win sees them move out of the bottom two and up to 21st, while Nigel Worthington’s tenure as boss of York began disappointingly, with the Minstermen suffering another defeat. Fans here were witnesses to a thriller and it was the home side on top, going ahead on three occasions. Mat Mitchel-King’s half-volley gave the Dons the lead after 20 minutes, only for them to be pegged back through Chris Smith’s header on the half hour mark. It was much the same in the second period with the Wombles retaking the lead with an hour on the clock, courtesy of Brennan Dickenson, before Smith bagged his second, again levelling the scores. Harry Pell netting with just over 10 minutes left to play ensured the Dons won three vital survival points.
Barnet too, climbed the table following their second half demolition of Morecambe. The visitors went in at the break with a slender goal’s lead – a route one ball by Shrimps’ keeper Barry Roche allowing Jack Redshaw to take a touch and then fire home. The second forty-five was all about the home side and striker Dani Lopez who set up the Bees’ first before netting a hat-trick. Luke Gambin grabbed the equaliser, in his first full start. Two goals in five minutes then killed off any chance of a Morecambe comeback – his tap-in midway through the second period was followed by a penalty, after Gambin was felled by goalie Roche, who also saw red. The Spaniard – on loan from Stevenage – completed his hat-trick late on through a strike from six yards out. Victory for the Bees sees them move up to 18th while their opponents slip two places.
Rochdale move up to 16th after their comfortable victory against Wycombe, a side who have recently suffered somewhat mixed fortunes. It was, in fact, Wanderers who took the lead in this one, Stewart Lewis putting them ahead after 15 minutes. Dale quickly responded with Ian Henderson equalising three minutes later. The home side took the lead in the second half, Michael Harriman turning the ball past his own keeper and a Donnelly double secured the win for Dale. His neat finish was followed by a header, five minutes from time – Michael Rose the provider – and so it finished Rochdale 4-1 Wycombe.
Plymouth prop up the division and Gillingham remain leaders, extending the gap following Port Vale’s defeat. A goal in each half gave the Gills a clear advantage, with Chris Whelpdale’s tap-in adding to Antonio German’s earlier goal on half an hour. It was German’s first goal for the Gills since arriving on loan from Brentford at the end of last month. Argyle pulled one back through Jason Banton’s curler but it wasn’t enough.
Meanwhile in second place, Port Vale’s recent slump continues after their home defeat against Southend, who now sit five points short of the play-offs. The Shrimpers took the lead from the spot with Sean Clohessy netting after Matt Lund was fouled in the box. Britt Assombalonga’s 12th of the season doubled the visiting side’s lead after 30 minutes and Lee Hughes’ effort on an hour halved the deficit. Vale are now without a win in four.
At the top, fifth met third at the Pirelli, with Burton entertaining Cheltenham. By the final whistle the teams had switched places with Albion occupying the final automatic promotion spot. Alex MacDonald, recently extending his loan spell from Burnley, put the hosts in front, slotting home following a goalmouth scramble. Robbie Weir doubled the scoring four minutes later, before adding to his personal tally three minutes into the second period. An injury time consolation goal for the Rubies was no more than that – Byron Harrison on the scoresheet. Burton now find themselves a point ahead of their opponents and there are five points separating second from seventh.
Also in the play-offs, Northampton beat struggling Accrington to pile the pressure on the other teams hoping for automatic promotion, while Rotherham suffered defeat at the hands of Dagenham & Redbridge. Two goals in the first half for the Cobblers helped them close the gap towards the summit. Chris Hackett’s free kick broke the deadlock early on at Sixfields, with Roy O’Donovan doubling their advantage with Paul Rachubka’s quick goal kick deflecting off the striker, allowing him to net easily. This latest win lifts the Cobblers to fourth, while Accrington find themselves mired in the bottom two.
Elsewhere, Rotherham’s six-game unbeaten run was brought to an end by Dagenham. After a goalless opening period, the Daggers took the lead before the hour. Medy Elito was fouled by Kari Arneson with the Millers’ defender being shown his marching orders; Elito picked himself to convert the awarded penalty. A man down, Rotherham managed to level through Claude Davis’ close-range header, but Luke Wilkinson restored the Daggers’ lead with minutes remaining and their win sees them rise to 15th.
Oxford bounced back from Tuesday night’s 4-0 drubbing against Rotherham with a victory over Torquay, whose alarming slump continues. The Gulls haven’t won in nine and slip closer to the dropzone. With James Constable breaking the deadlock on 50 minutes, Damien Batt increased the Us lead four minutes later. Although Torquay pulled one back – Aaron Downes’ header from a set-piece – Oxford managed to restore their two-goal cushion through Simon Heslop’s low drive. While Torquay sit one point off 23rd place, Oxford move up to 10th and are now seven points from a play-off position, with nine games remaining.
Chesterfield also won comfortably over the weekend with two goals against Bristol Rovers; Jay O’Shea seizing on a poor clearance on 50 minutes, before Armand Gnanduillet extended their lead 20 minutes later with a low strike.
A late goal for Bradford salvaged a point against Aldershot, one of at least seven teams trying to beat the drop with time running out. Kieron Cadogan’s free kick gave the visitors the lead in first half stoppage time; the Bantams left it equally as late to gain something from the game. Alan Connell’s penalty arrived in the eight minute added on at the end, but a solitary point does nothing for their play-off push. Aldershot sit three clear of danger.
Ninth met fourth with Fleetwood hosting Exeter, with both teams vying for a play-off finish. This one ending goalless meant that Fleetwood have failed to score in over 500 minutes of football and a point doesn’t do much for either side.
There’s a near-full League Two programme on Tuesday night with Cheltenham and Chesterfield the only teams not in action. Port Vale will be looking to return to winning ways with a trip to Bristol Rovers. In the basement, Accrington and Plymouth host Fleetwood and Bradford respectively, four teams searching for points for wholly differing reasons. The league leaders are also on the road as the Gills travel to Exeter.