With Gillingham still flying high at the top of League Two and Barnet at the bottom, propping up the rest of the Football League, it was a fairly standard weekend. There was plenty of incident: last minute goals, crucial late winners, sendings off and controversial decisions. The round-up begins with Gillingham’s difficult trip to in-form Port Vale.
The Gills went six points clear at the top of the table this weekend after beating Port Vale 2-0 away from home – inflicting a first home defeat on their hosts this season. Deon Burton opened the scoring for Gillingham on 11 minutes, heading in Robbie Findley’s cross and Chris Whelpdale added a second after 25 minutes. The Gills held out for the rest of the match, also managing a third consecutive clean sheet. However, Vale remain in second.
There was a similar score line at The Kassam where free-falling Oxford took on a Bradford side looking for a first away victory of the campaign. The opening goal didn’t come until the 52nd minute – Andrew Davies with a powerful header for the Bantams, from a Gary Jones’ corner – before a second corner, again by Jones, was met by Nahki Wells with just over 20 minutes remaining. A 2-0 win for Bradford puts them into 4th place, whilst consigning Oxford to a fifth successive defeat, their worst run in form under current manager Chris Wilder.
There were goals galore at the Globe Arena where Morecambe played hosts to Plymouth and after this score line, it is little wonder that The Shrimps fans think their stadium is cursed! Morecambe were a goal up at halftime, thanks to an early strike from Jack Redshaw. Their lead was doubled just six minutes into the second half – a Richard Brodie penalty after he was fouled in the box by Plymouth’s Durell Berry. With 20 minutes remaining, Argyle produced a remarkable comeback. Ross Jenkins netted the first before a Warren Feeney double from the penalty spot earned them all three points. With 80 minutes played, Izak Reid was adjudged to have handled, setting up an exciting closing 10, with the scores level at 2-2. In the dying minutes, a foul on substitute Paris Cowan-Hall allowed Feeney the opportunity to put away the winner from the spot. The win for Plymouth sees them move further from the drop-zone and up to 16th, whilst defeat slips Morecambe into 18th.
Elsewhere, in Essex, Southend ran out 2-1 winners when they entertained Exeter at Roots Hall. The Grecians took the lead after the break – Scot Bennett with their goal. With a throw of the dice, Shrimpers’ boss Paul Sturrock brought on Barry Corr, his first start for 17 months after a knee injury. How fitting for Corr to mark his first game back with a goal and a crucial equaliser for Southend. A powerful header in the 78th minute was followed in ‘smash and grab’ style when fans’ favourite Freddy Eastwood netted the winner in the closing minutes to send the Southend fans home happy.
Meanwhile fellow Essex side Dagenham and Redbridge managed a decent point when they travelled to Rochdale. Dale were two goals to the good at half time, after netting twice in four minutes. Dele Adebola put the hosts ahead on 33 minutes, before Bobby Grant added a second. The turning point came in the 60th minute, following a red card for Rochdale. Daggers’ striker Josh Scott rounded Josh Lillis in the Dale goal, before being brought down by Kevin McIntyre – the referee had little choice but to send him off. The resulting penalty was taken by Mickey Spillane, who put it away. Dagenham allowed their man advantage to count and levelled minutes later – Sam Williams heading home from a corner by Medy Elito. Rochdale managed to hold out for the final 20 minutes and the score at Spotland remained Rochdale 2-2 Dagenham.
There were narrow wins for AFC Wimbledon and Accrington Stanley. The managerless Dons took on a struggling Wycombe side, who after defeat yesterday suffered their third consecutive loss. It could have been more than 1-0 – Byron Harrison had his penalty saved, after Wycombe’s Danny Foster handled in the area. As it was, six minutes later, Sammy Moore got the only goal of the game. With only goal difference keeping Wycombe out of the drop zone (they have a goal difference of -4, as opposed to Bristol Rovers -9), they sacked manager Gary Waddock after the game. There was late drama in the match between Accrington and Aldershot. With it looking like it’d end 0-0, Accrington substitute Padraig Amond gave them all three points in the last minute. The misery continued for the Shots when Peter Vincenti (also off the bench) was sent off with a straight red card in added time.
Elsewhere it was a point apiece for Torquay and Burton – a last minute equaliser by Brewers’ forward Calvin Zola sealing the draw – and there were a number of 0-0s including Barnet, who doubled their points tally, sharing the spoils with Rotherham and Bristol Rovers who drew with Fleetwood.
In the pick of next weekend’s games, it’s 4th v 2nd as Bradford take on Port Vale, Gillingham will try and extend their lead at the top when they host Rochdale and there’s a bottom of the table clash as Dagenham play Wycombe – with both teams, like a number of other on four points – a great opportunity for three vital points to push away from the relegation zone.