Another exciting weekend in the Conference is rounded up by Lucy Waldon
Cambridge failed to win this weekend, despite being two goals up against relegation-threatened Dartford. Fans at Princes Park were treated to a six-goal thriller, with Ryan Bird opening the scoring in the second minute for the visitors. The debutant soon increased the Us’ lead, before Elliot Bradbrook pulled one back for the Darts – converting from the penalty spot. On the stroke of half time, the strugglers found themselves level as Max Cornhill headed home and the fates appeared to be in their favour in the second period, as they took the lead for the first time in the game through Danny Harris’ strike. Cambridge could have levelled earlier than they eventually did – Ashley Chambers saw his penalty saved – before Luke Berry headed in with 10 minutes remaining to salvage a point. Despite their battling performance, the Darts remain second from bottom and five points adrift of safety.
Luton’s latest win sees them extend their lead at the top to three points as they continue the excellent form that has seen them unbeaten in their last 20 matches. Andre Gray was the hat-trick hero at Kenilworth Road, his treble arriving in the second half after the opening period ended goalless. The division’s top scorer broke the deadlock on 50 minutes, firing the ball between the legs of James Belshaw in the Nuneaton goal. His second came from close range, before he completed his treble, latching onto Steve McNulty’s through-ball to coolly slot home. Boro have now lost three of their last four and this latest defeat sees them slip to 9th.
Down in the basement, Hyde took on Tamworth and victory for the Lambs saw them edge closer to survival. The visitors took an early lead through Richard Peniket’s tap-in within the opening 10 minutes. Justin Richards made it two on the hour mark, before the win – only Tamworth’s second on the road this season – was sealed by Nick Chadwick. Although they sit a point behind Chester, the Lambs have two games in hand over their rivals.
Chester lost their first game under new boss Steve Burr this weekend, where goals in each half from Lee Hughes saw Forest Green triumphant. Rovers took the lead midway through the first half, when Hughes opened the scoring. James Norwood turned from provider to goal scorer when he netted on the 65th minute, before Hughes added to his earlier effort to make it three without reply. Despite sitting precariously above the drop zone, this was Chester’s first defeat in six matches.
Elsewhere, play-off hopefuls Halifax had to come from behind against Aldershot to salvage a point, while Lincoln (17th) and Woking (18th) were forced to settle for a share of the spoils. Lee Gregory netted twice at The Rec to keep the Shaymen in with a shout of a place in the top five. However it was the hosts who should have taken the lead, but for Brett Williams’ miss from the penalty spot. The Shots were made to rue that missed opportunity, with Lee Gregory’s left-footed strike handing Halifax the lead after half an hour. The sides went in at half time on level terms, after Jordan Williams fired in from close range and in the second half, the Shots took the lead through Craig Stanley’s free kick. With minutes remaining, Gregory made it two for the afternoon – and 17 for the campaign – to snatch a late point.
Meanwhile, Lincoln and Woking finished the afternoon as they started, also playing out a 2-2 draw. Woking took the lead at Sincil Bank, but Kevin Betsy’s early goal was cancelled out by Nat Brown’s leveller moments later. The Imps secured a slender advantage going into the second half after Ben Tomlinson smashed the ball into the back of the net, but Woking grabbed a late equaliser – Giuseppe Sole with an effort from 12 yards. The striker could well have won it for the Cards, but he saw his injury time spot kick saved.
Alfreton remain third in the Conference, after they recorded a win over Welling. Josh Law had the visiting side in front, but Kurtis Guthrie levelled for Welling. Alfreton retook the lead in the second half: Shaun Harrad bagging a goal on his debut, following his release from Bury, while defeat for the Wings sees them drop a place to 14th.
Also in the Conference this weekend, there were home wins for Barnet and Hereford. The Bees left it late to steal maximum points from Southport – diminutive Mauro Vilhete’s injury time header from Luisma Villa’s corner ended their run of three games without a win. Meanwhile, at Edgar Street, Hereford made it three wins in four as a Dominic Collins strike separated them and Salisbury.
Ten teams are in action on Tuesday night, before a near-full programme on Saturday afternoon. Cambridge will hope to close the gap at the top as they host Grimsby; Tamworth look to make it consecutive wins as they travel to Wrexham and Kidderminster could climb into the top five with at least a point over Hereford.