Lucy Waldon brings us all the action from the penultimate round of fixtures in League Two.
Once again, it will be going down to the final day to see who in League Two will be plying their wares at Conference level next season. With just the one game remaining, anyone from Torquay in 18th place could go down. However, this weekend’s round-up begins at the top where most matters have already been resolved.
Despite being held to a 2-2 draw, Gillingham were crowned Champions on home turf. The Gills were two goals up at half time, before AFC Wimbledon staged a spirited comeback and earned what could be a vital point in terms of their league survival. Deon Burton gave Gillingham the lead after 10 minutes, with Danny Kedwell’s header from Chris Whelpdale’s free-kick following moments later. The deficit was halved after the hour mark – Jack Midson netting from close range for the Dons –and the turnaround was complete with just minutes remaining: Jon Meades supplying the late leveller. Unfortunately for Dons fans, a single point sees Wimbledon slip into the bottom two, with Barnet replacing them in 22ndplace.
There was a similar scoreline at Vale Park where Port Vale secured automatic promotion against Northampton. The Cobblers will have to settle for a play-off place, as with one game remaining, they are unable to finish in the top three. The visitors went ahead early in this battle: only two minutes in and Clarke Carlisle’s strike broke the deadlock. Before the interval, Vale worked themselves level through Liam Chilvers’ header. Although Northampton retook the lead – Roy O’Donovan with his fourth goal since arriving in the January transfer window – Lee Collins’ slice into his own net in the final five minutes gifted Vale a point. Because of their superior goal difference, Micky Adams’ men are guaranteed League One football next season.
Rotherham also enhanced their chances of automatic promotion, their narrow win coming over struggling Plymouth who could still go down. Kieran Agard’s close-range finish separated the sides at Home Park, leaving the Millers in third, two points ahead of nearest rivals Cheltenham.
Moving on to those teams looking to beat the drop… Although Aldershot remain rooted to the foot of the table, they defeated fellow strugglers Dagenham & Redbridge to take it to the wire. With the game’s only goal coming early in the second half through Michael Rankine, the Daggers drop to 21st and come next Saturday, nothing less than a win will do for Aldershot.
There was also a crucial victory for Barnet in their final game at Underhill – they faced mid-table Wycombe. Jake Hyde’s 14th goal of the season proved a vital one for the Bees and set up a nervy closing 10 minutes. In the third minute of time added-on, Tom Flanagan fouled Bruno Andrade in the box, but Joel Grant had his penalty saved by Graham Stack. Barnet now join Dagenham & Redbridge on 51 points and move out of the bottom two.
A win for Accrington saw them secure League Two football for another season against an already-safe Bristol Rovers. Lee Molyneux’s 30-yard free kick came in the game’s opening two minutes, moving Stanley up to 17th on 54 points.
There were also wins for Torquay and York, neither of whom are safe from the drop going into the final weekend. They faced Morecambe and Southend, respectively. Maximum points for both struggling sides sees them join Plymouth on 52 points, two ahead of AFC Wimbledon.
At the Globe Arena, it was an afternoon to forget for Morecambe. Torquay were handed an early advantage when, after 20 minutes, Chris Doyle was given his marching orders for a hauling down Elliot Benyon. The Shrimps’ bad luck continued before half an hour was played, defender Stewart Drummond’s back-pass eluding Barry Roche and ending up in the back of his own net. The Gulls sealed victory with just over 20 minutes remaining, Ashley Yeoman’s left-footed drive setting up a tense finale to the campaign.
York, too, gave themselves hope going into next weekend’s final game, with victory over Southend. The home side took the lead with as little as 55 seconds played, Adam Reed firing home. Southend hit back midway through the opening period with Ryan Leonard capitalising on a poor clearance, before the Minstermen restored their one-goal advantage prior to the break – Matty Blair earning Nigel Worthington’s side three crucial points.
At the other end of the table, the play-off dream is finally over for Exeter, following defeat to Cheltenham, who could still snatch third place from Rotherham. A fifth minute free kick by Sido Jombati was met by Russell Penn, who fired a low shot into the back of the net.
A solitary goal also separated Bradford and Burton at Valley Parade – maximum points for the hosts putting an end to Burton’s hopes of automatic promotion. James Hanson’s looping effort broke the deadlock before the referee’s half time whistle and the Brewers also went in at the break a man light – Lee Bell shown a straight red for his foul on Zavon Hines.
Elsewhere, there were also big wins on Saturday for Chesterfield and Oxford. After Armand Gnanduillet’s close-range header gave Chesterfield the lead against Fleetwood, the Spireites increased their advantage and went into half time with a two-goal cushion – Marc Richards with a 25-yard free kick. Richards doubled his tally, making it three for the visitors midway through the second period, before Andy Mangan grabbed a consolation goal for Fleetwood.
Oxford recorded a comfortable victory over Rochdale in their final home game of the season. Following a goalless first half, Andy Whing broke the deadlock after 50 minutes – a six-yard volley. James Constable doubled the Us lead towards the end and the win was sealed with Alfie Potter lobbing Dale keeper Josh Lillis in injury time.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s fixtures, Aldershot will be relegated if they are unable to win against Rotherham. AFC Wimbledon, too, need maximum points against Fleetwood, due to their inferior goal difference. Barnet travel to Northampton, Torquay host Bristol Rovers and Plymouth face Rochdale at Spotland. In what could prove to be a crunch game, Dagenham & Redbridge (51 points) entertain York (52 points).