Lucy Waldon rounds up Easter Monday’s full programme of fixtures in League Two.
There were goals galore in the Football League’s basement division on Easter Monday, with fans across the country treated to 36 finishes in 12 games. The places to be were Dagenham’s Victoria Road and Accrington’s Crown Ground where the round-up begins.
Visiting Bristol Rovers netted three times in the opening 20 minutes to record a comfortable victory over a Dagenham & Redbridge side without a win in their last five games. John-Joe O’Toole’s fourth minute opener got the Gas off to a flyer, with Oumare Tounkara doubling their advantage two minutes later. Danny Woodards added a third before the Daggers managed to pull one back – Ben Strevens bundling the ball over the line from Gavin Hoyte’s cross. Rovers’ three-goal cushion was restored when Tounkara added to his tally for the afternoon with 20 minutes left to play. But Jake Reed’s tap-in made the scoreline slightly more respectable. While Dagenham are now just three points clear of danger, Rovers are sitting safely in mid-table.
A last-gasp equaliser for Accrington earned them a point against promotion-chasing Burton. Will Hatfield had Stanley in front in the seventh minute, but the sides went in on level terms at the break, with Matt Paterson capitalising on a defensive mix-up. Padraig Amond’s chip on the hour mark put the home side back in front, but Albion netted twice in six minutes to grab the lead. Zander Diamond’s 67th minute leveller was quickly followed by a Jacques Maghoma free-kick. There was late drama with James Beattie snatching a point for Stanley in the second minute of time added on for the strugglers.
Aldershot’s survival hopes were given a boost after they defeated Oxford, thanks to a late goal from substitute Jeff Goulding. The Shots may still be rooted to the foot of the table, but two points now separate them from Torquay and Plymouth – both Devon sides sitting on 46 points. Paul McCallum broke the deadlock early on for the hosts with Craig Reid doubling their lead from the penalty spot after the break. Scott Davies reduced the deficit after an hour and although their cause received a set-back after Michael Raynes was shown a second yellow card, the Us managed to level with five minutes remaining – Jon-Paul Pittman on the score sheet. The Shots retook the lead almost immediately through Goulding’s header to earn three vital points.
To the top of the table now and the gap at the top increased to eight points on Monday after Gillingham beat play-off candidates Rotherham and Port Vale were held to a draw by Chesterfield. Meanwhile, Northampton remain third despite their defeat to Cheltenham who now occupy fourth spot, level on points with their opponents.
Martin Allen’s league leaders only needed a solitary goal with Deon Burton netting for the Gills midway through the opening period. There was a similar scoreline at Whaddon Road with the hosts recording a welcome win. Steve Elliot’s header may have been initially saved by Lee Nicholls but he was on hand to convert the follow-up, the game’s only goal before the interval. As well as holding on to the final automatic promotion spot, the Cobblers have a game in hand over their rivals.
Chesterfield find themselves six points from the play-offs with five games remaining, as they were unable to hold on to their lead against Port Vale. The Valiants opened the scoring as early as the fifth minute with Darren Purse heading in from a corner kick routine. Marc Richards then put the hosts in front with his double against his former club. His deflected free-kick had the Spireites level before going on to net 20 minutes from time. Tom Pope made it 31 for the campaign with a header late on to earn Vale a point.
Easter Monday didn’t disappoint in terms of tasty ties at the wrong end of the table, with York facing Plymouth and Barnet’s trip to AFC Wimbledon huge games for all involved. York recorded their first win in 17 matches – also their first under manager Nigel Worthington – as two first half goals were the difference between themselves and fellow strugglers Argyle. Ashley Chambers gave the Minstermen the lead after completing a move he had initially started in the 20th minute, with returning veteran Richard Cresswell netting later on, after Tom Platt’s header was cleared off the line. York may remain 23rd but they’re now just a point and a place behind Plymouth, although The Pilgrims also have a game in hand.
Keanu Marsh-Brown’s debut goal for Barnet handed them victory in true ‘smash and grab’ style away from home at Kingsmeadow. The Dons’ had a goal disallowed in the 15th minute and were hit by a double whammy when five minutes from time, the winger slotted past John Sullivan in the home goal. The victors replace their opponents in 18th place and are on an unbeaten run after clean sheets in four successive games, while Wimbledon lie in 19th position, also on 48 points.
There were also wins for Bradford, Rochdale and Wycombe – all on the road. Bradford hit back, having gone behind early on against lowly Torquay. Joss Labadie had given the Gulls a third minute lead with his 12-yard drilled effort, only for it to be cancelled out minutes later – Rory McArdle heading in from Gary Jones’ free-kick. The Bantams were ahead through Garry Thompson’s strike before the visitors extended their lead after the break, with James Hanson heaping the misery on Torquay.
Exeter, too, took the lead in their game, only to end up empty-handed. The Grecians went in at the break a goal-up after Jamie Cureton had given them a slender lead. Their promotion push was hampered once Dale secured two late goals. Rochdale’s leveller came courtesy of an Ian Henderson deflected shot before Bobby Grant reversed the scoring in added on time. The losing side may occupy the final play-off spot, but Fleetwood sit three points behind.
A single goal was the difference between Morecambe and Wycombe and come 5pm, both teams sat on 52 points and comfortable from the threat of relegation. Stewart Lewis scored the game’s only goal, lashing the ball home in the 55th minute.
In the League’s final game, Southend and Fleetwood played out a 1-1 draw. Fleetwood scored as early as Southend did late – Alan Goodall’s second minute header was later cancelled out by Barry Corr’s leveller five minutes from time. The Essex side have now drawn both their games under new boss Phil Brown.
To the weekend’s fixtures now and Port Vale entertain fellow promotion hopefuls Burton on Friday night. On Saturday afternoon, 23rd placed York face Accrington in 20th, while Gillingham can extend their lead at the top with victory against relegation-threatened Torquay.