Matches in the Football League dropped like flies this weekend, with the weather interfering with playing conditions. In League Two, the three Friday night games went ahead and there were a couple of surprise results. Seven games on Saturday were postponed, with only two being played – a pitch inspection at midday ensured that Northampton v Aldershot went ahead and in the three o’clock kick-off, Accrington met Plymouth.
Starting with Friday’s games, Barnet will go into the Christmas period outside of the relegation zone after they came from a goal down to beat Burton Albion. The referee was certainly full of Christmas spirit in a game that included three penalties. The first was awarded to the Brewers after Barry Fuller was deemed to upend Jacques Maghoma – Billy Kee stepped up and put away the spot kick. The Bees were level before half time with Ricky Holmes netting, after a dodgy back-pass from Damien McCrory allowed him to round the keeper and tap into an empty net. The home side were the next to be awarded a penalty, when in the second half, Burton’s Cleveland Taylor handballed. Holmes stepped up and scored his – and Barnet’s – second. His hat-trick was completed 13 minutes later after a cool finish extended the Bees’ lead by two goals. The final penalty came in second half stoppage time and it was another for the visitors after loanee Andy Iro fouled Maghoma. The midfielder duly scored but it wasn’t enough and the Bees held on. Defeat for Burton prevented them moving into the playoffs.
Five goals were also scored at Spotland where Rochdale entertained third-placed Cheltenham. In-form striker Bobby Grant opened the scoring for Dale with an edge-of-the-box curler with the first half coming to a close, and their lead was doubled on the stroke of half time though Ashley Grimes’ 25-yard strike. During the time of giving and goodwill, Phil Edwards turned the ball into his own net to reduce the deficit, but two goals in two minutes for the hosts wrapped up the victory. First Grimes again bagged his brace with a fine strike before the experienced forward, Dele Adebola, completed the rout with his tap-in with 20 minutes left on the clock. Cheltenham remain in third but Dale’s first win in five sees them within a point of the playoffs.
The final game on Friday night saw Southend take on Chesterfield. The win for the Shrimpers sees them move up to fourth and capitalise on Cheltenham’s slip-up – they now sit two points behind the automatic promotion places. All three goals at Roots Hall came in the second half and the first was scored six minutes in – Ryan Cresswell’s volley after Marc Laird’s initial shot had been saved, gave the Shrimpers the lead. A double from Gavin Tomlin saw the game off. His opener came just after the hour mark when he headed in from Kevan Hurst’s cross and the victory was wrapped up eight minutes later – another header, this time from a ball by Chris Barker. That was Tomlin’s 11th goal in 10 games, enough to see Chesterfield drop two places to 12th.
In the first of Saturday’s two games, Northampton dispatched strugglers Aldershot in a 2-0 victory at Sixfields – their first win in five. The Cobblers’ opened the scoring in the 49th minute: Jake Robinson ran onto a long-ball and slotted the ball past Jamie Young in the Shots’ goal. The home side doubled their lead in the third minute of stoppage time after a cheeky lob from Clive Platt hit the back of the net.
Elsewhere Accrington and Plymouth played out a score draw, but the game at the Crown Ground certainly wasn’t short of drama. Argyle took the lead in the opening period when Onismor Bhasera was quickest to pounce after Robbie Williams’ free-kick struck the post. Stanley equalised early in the second half – James Beattie with a low drive ensuring both teams would get a point. The action didn’t stop there though and the Pilgrims were awarded a penalty after Paris Cowan-Hall was bundled over by Michael Liddle – but Warren Feeney’s spot-kick was saved by Paul Rachubka. And in the spirit of panto season, Rabchubka turned villain before the game was out: his headbutt on Luke Chadwick was deemed worthy of a straight red. A point for Plymouth sees them four points clear of the drop-zone.
With fixtures coming thick and fast over the festive season, weather permitting, the next round of matches will be played on Boxing Day. Both Devon sides Plymouth and Torquay meet at Home Park. At the top, 5th meets 2nd as Rotherham host Port Vale, while at the foot of the table, Bristol Rovers travel to Aldershot.