Wednesday, 28 November 2012

League Two round-up: 24/11/12

There wasn’t a single goalless draw last weekend in League Two and the points were shared on only two occasions. There were goals aplenty as well with a number of teams scoring three and only six teams out of the twenty-four failing to hit the back of the net. The game of the day undoubtedly came at the Memorial Stadium where struggling Bristol Rovers met Bradford, who sit at the other end of the table.
It’s fair to say Rovers went away from the game unhappy with only a point, particularly given they were ahead three times – but when you’re at the wrong end of the table luck always seems to go against you. The home side went in front within the opening two minutes when newly-signed Guy Branston scored. It was the defender’s first touch having joined from fellow strugglers Aldershot earlier in the week. The Bantam’s top scorer, Nahki Wells hit back before the half-hour mark, but the Gas went into the break with the lead – Tom Eaves’ low drive enough to separate the sides. Bradford equalised again, early in the second half, when Carl McHugh’s header made the score 2-2. There were a further two goals just after the hour – Bristol took the lead for a third time, but Michael Smith’s volley was cancelled out by James Hanson’s leveller six minutes later. The drama didn’t stop there and both sides finished the game a man down – a touchline scuffle ended with a straight red card for Bradford’s Nathan Doyle, while Rovers’ Wayne Brown received a second yellow.
The points were also shared between Accrington Stanley and Gillingham. The League leaders went ahead late in the first half through Myles Weston. But they were reduced to ten men when goalkeeper Stuart Nelson brought down Stanley’s Padraig Amond. The first thing substitute keeper Tommy Forecast had to do was pick the ball out of the net as James Beattie levelled for the home side with his spot-kick – his second goal in three games. The 10 men of Gillingham managed to hold onto a point, but the gap between themselves and Port Vale in second has been closed to just two points.
Victory for Vale saw them extend their unbeaten run to six games and capitalise on Gillingham dropping points yet again. Aldershot are back in the relegation zone following their defeat, with Wycombe also picking up a win. A 17th minute strike from Ben Williamson put Vale ahead but Aldershot pegged them back through Dani Lopez’ header. That was the loanee’s third goal in as many games since joining from Stevenage. Two second half goals from the visitors killed the game off: first Ryan Burge was in the right place at the right time after Tom Pope’s initial chance was saved and then Jennison Myrie-Williams scored from the penalty spot after he was fouled in the area.
Also at the top, Cheltenham remain in third following their home win against the League’s bottom side, Barnet. The Bees could have taken the lead when Darren Carter’s handball gave Mark Byrne the opportunity to convert from the spot. Scott Brown kept the score at 0-0 when he saved Byrne’s penalty and Barnet were to rue that mistake when Cheltenham scored 10 minutes from time – a 25-yard shot from substitute Jeff Goulding enough to hand the Robins all three points.
Southend move up to fourth following their 3-1 win against Rochdale, who themselves drop out of the playoff places. Dale took the lead early in the second half when Terry Gornell scored his first goal for the club since joining on loan from Shrewsbury. But two goals in as many minutes from Southend swung the game in their favour – their equaliser came from the in-form Britt Assombalonga and they took the lead through Gavin Tomlin. A Marc Laird chip extended their advantage with over 10 minutes remaining.
A single goal for Rotherham against playoff rivals Exeter was also the Grecians’ first loss in five league games. Defender Ian Sharp secured all three points for the Millers when his header late in the first period hit the back of the net. However, Rotherham were reduced to 10 men towards the end after substitute Mitchell Rose saw red for his foul on Aaron Dawson.
Elsewhere there were surprise wins for Wycombe, who climb out of the bottom two after their 3-0 drubbing of Burton Albion, while a stoppage-time penalty for Dagenham & Redbridge saw them overcome high-flying Fleetwood. Matt McClure opened the scoring for Wanderers when he reacted quickest to Dean Lyness’ parry. Burton’s afternoon then went from bad to worse when they were reduced to 10 men – Zander Diamond hauled down McClure and Joel Grant duly put away the resulting penalty. Wycombe added a third five minutes later when McClure scored his second brace in a week. Despite back-to-back defeats, the Brewers remain in the top half of the table. Fleetwood continue to stay in the playoffs, despite losing to Dagenham. With the game looking like a goalless stalemate, the home side were awarded a penalty in injury time after Sam Williams was felled by Youl Mawene – Williams stepped up, putting away the spot kick and handing the Daggers a dramatic winner.
Wimbledon continue to struggle and are a point above the drop zone; a comfortable win for Morecambe was largely thanks to a hat-trick from Kevin Ellison. The midfielder opened the scoring after seven minutes, before doubling the Shrimps lead when he latched on to Stewart Drummond’s through-ball. Wimbledon halved the deficit when Jack Midson scored from the spot, but Ellison grabbed his hat-trick and restored Morecambe’s two-goal cushion with a little over 10 minutes remaining. The task became even harder for the Dons when defender Paul McCallum was dismissed minutes later.
Also at the bottom, Plymouth were beaten by a solitary goal when they hosted Chesterfield. Marc Richards delivered the deciding strike midway through the second half, Jack Lester supplying the assist.
Oxford won their first league game of the month, beating Northampton 2-1 in a closely contested encounter. The hosts were a goal-up at half time – James Constable’s tap-in separating the sides after forty-five minutes. The Cobblers were back on level terms when a Chris Hackett cross was met by Clive Platt. But the Us restored their lead minutes later – Jon-Paul Pittman firing home. Northampton had on-loan defender Clark Carlisle sent off for two bookable offences late on, making a comeback even less likely.
Finally in League Two, Torquay won their second away game of the season, also consigning York to their seventh game in all competitions without a win. A goal in each half for the Gulls saw the Minstermen slip to 17th. Danny Stevens latched on to Kevin Nicholson’s low cross early in the game before Joe Oastler bundled home midway through the second period.
With this weekend dedicated to the second round of the FA Cup, there are just the three fixtures scheduled for League Two, with teams playing catch-up. Wycombe and Bristol Rovers meet, both teams looking to push further away from the drop zone, while Torquay host Dagenham & Redbridge and York travel to Rochdale.

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