It was all change at the top of League Two this weekend, while there were shocks at the wrong end of the table with struggling teams desperate for points to pull away from the drop zone.
In Friday night’s only game, Exeter beat Accrington to move up to third – subsequently slipping down to fifth after the rest of the weekend’s action. Stanley, on the other hand, haven’t won since New Year’s Day, with their run of poor results extending to six games. After a goalless first half, two efforts from substitute Jimmy Keohane won it for the Grecians. The home side’s opener arrived on 79 minutes through an edge of the area strike before Exeter – and Keohane’s – second, three minutes later; Jamie Cureton teeing him up with the assist.
Gillingham and Port Vale swapped places yet again at the weekend – Gillingham’s win saw them regain top spot, with Vale losing to Morecambe. Leon Legge opened his Gills account scoring for the hosts before the half-hour mark. The Daggers responded early in the second period when Femi Ilesanmi capitalised on a poor clearance but Deon Burton found the winner for Martin Allen’s men 16 minutes later, converting a penalty which was awarded for a foul on Anton Robinson. Meanwhile, a solitary goal for Morecambe meant that Vale had to settle for second place. The deadlock at Vale Park was broken after an hour when Lewis Alessandra bundled home to hand the visitors a surprise lead. The Shrimps had to play the remaining 18 minutes with 10 men after Andrew Wright was dismissed for a second bookable offence, but they held on – moving up to 10th.
Burton’s demolition of recent high-flyers Fleetwood moved them into the final automatic promotion place. They were handed an advantage when the Cod Army’s keeper Scott Davies was sent off in the 50th minute. Jacques Maghoma, the man felled, netted the resulting penalty and from that point a Brewers’ defeat never looked likely. Billy Kee doubled their lead with his neat finish before two late goals completed the rout. Maghoma added to his tally three minutes from time before he turned provider for Calvin Zola to finish the scoring in stoppage time.
AFC Wimbledon remained bottom of the Football League; however, their surprise win dented the hopes of League Cup finalists Bradford, who face Swansea on Sunday. It was the Bantams that went ahead just short of the hour when Kyel Reid’s through-ball set up Garry Thompson. Two late goals for the Dons turned the tide of the game and gave them much-needed maximum points. First came the equaliser through Jack Midson’s header, before an injury time corner met the head of Garry Alexander. A single point separates the Dons from Plymouth in 21st.
Barnet went behind but fought back against York, securing three points to aid their survival fight. The Minstermen scored as early as the seventh minute when John McGrath’s free kick met Michael Rankine to put the hosts in front. Andy Yiadom levelled on 25 minutes when he managed to poke the ball home in a scramble and substitute Jake Hyde bagged his ninth goal of the season with a low drive late in the second half.
Staying with the teams battling for survival, Bristol Rovers continued their recent run of good results – making it a sixth win in eight matches. They faced a Wycombe side who have also managed to pull away from the drop zone. Ryan Brunt scored the game’s only goal – a volley, 10 minutes before the interval. The Gas have now secured 20 points out of a possible 27 under John Ward. Wanderers also remain safe, 11 points separating them and relegation.
Elsewhere, a single goal also separated Plymouth and Oxford. James Constable helped United to their first win in six, while defeat for Argyle saw their five-game unbeaten run ended. Constable’s 16th minute strike was his 11th of the campaign.
There were also narrow victories for Rochdale against Torquay, who are still without manager Martin Ling, and Rotherham who beat Chesterfield to remain in the play-offs. Maximum points for Dale were their first since Keith Hill returned to the helm. An early goal for right-back Ryan Bennett turned out to be the eventual winner – after his initial shot was blocked by Michael Poke in the Gulls’ goal, Bennett was quick to pounce on the rebound. Rotherham sit a point off the automatic promotion places after their home win against Chesterfield. After a dominant opening period by the Millers, a header from skipper Johnny Mullins handed the hosts the lead after the break and it remained 1-0.
Also in League Two, Northampton’s one man advantage helped them beat a Southend side currently vying for the playoffs. Roy O’Donovan opened the scoring for the Cobblers early on, before Bilel Mohsni – in first game for Southend in nine months – saw red halfway through the opening forty-five. It was the Frenchman’s fifth dismissal for the Shrimpers. Despite being a man light, Matty Lund levelled the scores but captain Kelvin Langmead’s header in stoppage time gave all three points to Aidy Boothroyd’s side.
Cheltenham and Aldershot played out the weekend’s only draw in the basement divison. A point saw the Rubies drop out of the top three. A goal in each half meant that both teams would finish the game on level terms. A first half strike handed the Shots the lead, Danny Rose with the finish after 20 minutes, before Paul Benson netted a worthy equaliser. The drama didn’t end there and with 17 minutes remaining, Aldershot were forced to see the game out with 10 men – Anthony Tonkin receiving a second yellow card.
Tuesday night’s results:
AFC Wimbledon 1-1 Northampton
Aldershot 1-0 Torquay
Bristol Rovers 1-2 Rotherham
Looking ahead to Saturday’s games, fourth meets seventh as Burton take on Exeter. Gillingham can extend their lead at the top with a win away from home; they play Chesterfield. Port Vale will look to regain top spot when they travel to Torquay but Rotherham will have to wait ‘til Tuesday to put pressure on the teams vying for third – they don’t play this weekend.