Lucy Waldon rounds up the latest from the Conference.
A double from Joe Lolley propelled Kidderminster up to second in the table as they condemned Wrexham to a heavy defeat in Worcestershire. Lolley struck in each half, before the Welshmen pulled one back in controversial circumstances – the officials took a while to decide if their goal should stand, as appeared to go through a hole in the net. No such problems for the Harriers who responded quickly, restoring their two goal lead through Chey Dunkley’s conversion from a corner. The visitors’ weekend went from bad to worse when Andy Bishop saw red in the game’s closing stages – defeat sees them languishing at the lower end of the table.
There were also wins for Grimsby and FC Halifax, both securing a place in top five as a consequence. Grimsby’s unbeaten run was extended to five games, thanks to two second half goals on their travels at Tamworth. Craig Disley broke the deadlock early after the second half kicked off and the victory was sealed minutes from time when Alex Rodman ran clear, before sticking the ball in the back of the net. The Lambs, on the other hand, now sit a point clear of the dropzone. Halifax remain unbeaten at home thus far this campaign, and their latest result – their second win this week – piled the misery on Aldershot. The Shots have now taken a solitary point from their last four games and still find themselves mired in the bottom four. Lee Gregory opened the scoring midway through the first half, netting from a long throw routine, and 10 minutes later the Shaymen doubled their lead – Gregory turning provider for Liam Smith. Scott McManus added a third before the break and Marc Roberts completed the scoring, his header arriving on 70 minutes, although it was game over long before then.
Staying at the top of the Conference, league leaders Cambridge were held despite going two goals up against Barnet, while Luton dropped points on the road, as they travelled to Chester. At the Hive, Kwesi Appiah capitalised on defensive mistakes as he netted twice in three minutes to give Cambridge an apparently commanding lead. Luisma Villa pulled one back for the Bees with a splendid 25-yard curling drive and Curtis Weston levelled just before the break. Late in the game, controversy reigned as George Sykes was denied a goal on his Barnet debut. The striker didn’t appear to know too much about it as the ball was bundled into the back of the net, but the linesman had already flagged for a corner – and the referee didn’t overrule him. A point apiece is how it remained. Meanwhile, Chester ended Luton’s run of six successive away wins as they shared the spoils at the Deva. Andre Gray put the Hatters in front early on with a powerful strike, but Gareth Seddon’s long-range effort saw Chester level.
Forest Green leapfrogged Lincoln as they annihilated their opponents at the weekend. Rovers went ahead after 20 minutes and James Norwood’s effort was soon added to by Paul Green – his header coming against his former club. Lincoln managed to pull one back before the break, through Chris Sharp; however, the home side restored their two-goal cushion with Norwood adding to his account for the afternoon. The rout was complete with Jamie Turley scoring the fourth. Forest Green climb the table as a result.
Down in the basement, Hyde are still looking for their first win of the campaign, though they must have thought they were in with a chance after going ahead against Woking. Reece Gray made it a brace in 10 minutes as the Tigers found themselves two goals to the good at the Kingfield Stadium – much to the delight of the eight travelling fans. Jack Marriott halved the deficit for the home side and Scott Rendell converted Josh Payne’s cross early in the second half for the equaliser. The Cards’ comeback was complete when Marriott, on loan from Ipswich, bagged a second, firing the winner into the top corner.
Five goals were also scored in the North East as Gateshead hosted Salisbury. It took only 50 seconds for the Teesiders to break the deadlock – Josh Walker netting from 12 yards. It took a similar length of time in the second half for the home side to increase their lead, this time James Marwood scoring, before Walker made it three without reply. The action continued until the very end as Jamie White pulled a goal back to set up a frantic finish. Despite Elliot Frear coolly slotting home in stoppage time, the Heed held on for maximum points.
There were also big wins for Alfreton and Macclesfield on home soil at the weekend. Alfreton’s latest win has seen them climb to sixth, while defeat for Braintree means they fall four places. The hosts’ decent home form continued when John Akinde put them ahead in the opening quarter and Tom Shaw later made it two. In a stroke of good luck, the visitors grabbed a goal when Luke Daley’s cross-cum-shot looped its way into the back of the net. But Josh Law sealed the victory midway through the second half. Elsewhere, Macclesfield came from a goal down to record a big victory over a Dartford side that now sit in the bottom four. The Darts led at Moss Rose after Macc’s keeper fouled Adam Birchall in the box, Matt Godden converting the resultant penalty. The home side dominated the second half and three goals in as many minutes saw them victorious. First came the equaliser, courtesy of a Scott Boden header, before Connor Jennings produced a quick-fire double to secure an impressive comeback.
Hereford won their first away game since August, condemning Southport to a second defeat this week in the process. The Bulls led after 20 minutes with Dominic Collins heading home and two second half goals secured the points. Michael Rankine got on the end of Frankie Artus’ cross to make it two, before Ross Dyer completed the scoring – the Port slip to 19th with this latest loss. Welling received a blow when, having gone ahead against Nuneaton, they switched off and conceded a last minute goal. Ross Lafayette had the Wings ahead, after converting from the penalty spot but Boro quickly levelled – James Armson poking home from close range. Substitute Freddie Lapado, on loan from Colchester, broke free in stoppage time to bag a dramatic late winner, as Nuneaton sit a point from the play-offs.
On Tuesday night, Dartford host Wrexham in their rearranged fixture, while Saturday sees a full programme. Barnet (7th) travel to Grimsby (4th) in the pick of the games, while Cambridge will look to return to winning ways as they entertain Woking.