L2 Review: Town make up ground as Crawley, Southend and Cheltenham drop points
Welcome to another edition of Andrew Steele-Davis’ Npower Football League Two Review, where as always there was plenty of action for you to sink your teeth into. The top three all dropped vital points as the hectic Christmas schedule begins while Swindon continue their Robin’s revival under Paolo Di Canio, stretching their unbeaten run to 15 games in all competitions.
We start off with Friday’s double header where two of the top three were in action. Southend entertained Bradford whilst over achieving Cheltenham Town were in action against Barnet.
Let’s start off at Underhill, Barnet’s home for 104 years, but sadly this will be the last season of football the old ground will see thanks to the local council. High-flying Cheltenham Town were the visitors, looking to keep the pressure on Crawley and Southend.
Kaid Mohamed opened the scoring for the visitors, powering home a header from Marlon Pack’s pinpoint corner. Barnet however, levelled just before half-time, Izale McLeod finishing from five yards after Sam Deering put in a teasing cross.
Cheltenham were soon ahead again, Darryl Duffy making no mistake from 12 yards after Mohamed had been fouled by Mark Hughes, not the former Chelsea, Man United and Barcelona forward mind.
Barnet though refused to lie down and die, McLeod converting the game’s second penalty after he was fouled by Sido Jombati.
The result meant that Cheltenham was denied second place and also a club record ninth consecutive away victory in all competitions. A resurgent Barnet are now seven points clear of the relegation zone.
Now to Root’s Hall and Friday’s other game where Bradford shocked Southend by recording their first league away win of the season.
Fans had to wait until the 88th minute to see the first and only goal of the game when centre-back Luke Oliver scrambled the ball home from close range to secure a vital three points for the visitors from the north.
Bradford’s first away win of the season lifts them six points clear from the relegation zone but also sees them win this week’s ‘Team Performance of the Weekend’ award.
Now onto Saturday’s games where we start at the County Ground, where Morecambe were the visitors attempting to end Swindon’s fine unbeaten run.
However, Di Canio’s men had other ideas and comfortably dispatched of Jim Bentley’s men to stretch their unbeaten run to fifteen straight games in all competitions.
Jake Jervis put Swindon ahead just before the half hour mark, rifling in from Liam Ridehalgh’s pinpoint delivery. De Vita then headed home from Matt Ritchie’s cross before loanee Ronan Murray wrapped up the three points with a drilled shot. Swindon now lie in fifth place in the table, five points behind third placed Cheltenham.
In the ‘Home Performance of the Weekend Award’, Gillingham thrashed Bristol Rovers who are now looking nervously over their shoulders. Lewis Montrose and Danny Kedwell put the host’s two-nil up but Mustapha Carayol’s fine solo effort reduced the deficit. However, Danny Jackman soon put the Gills 3-1 up with a neat drive. Cian Bolger was then sent off for Rovers and Kedwell stepped up to score from the spot for his second of the afternoon and Gillingham’s fourth.
Guy Madjo’s hat-trick earned him this week’s ‘Player of the Weekend Award’ as Port Vale hammered Aldershot four nil. Madjo lashed home just eight minutes into the game and he doubled his and Vale’s tally forty minutes later when he tapped in.
The on loan striker from Stevenage them completed his hat-trick before Sean Rigg, who is also a trained tattooist, completed the rout. Aldershot did have a chance of scoring but Michael Rankine, cousin of Danny Rose, missed his spot-kick.
League leaders Crawley missed their golden opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the table as they were held by Crewe at Gresty Road.
Red Devil’s goalkeeper Scott Shearer was kept busy early on, keeping out chances from Byron Moore and Shaun Miller. However, Crewe’s early pressure paid off when Wes Fletcher headed home from Moore’s cross. Crewe were soon reduced to ten men, Shaun Miller being dismissed by controversial ref Stuart Attwell for a dangerous tackle on Crawley’s Sergio Torres. The visitors then grabbed the equaliser, Matt Tubbs netting his 15th goal of the season. However, Crawley will feel aggrieved to only have taken a point as they were denied three clear cut penalties.
In a roundup of the other results from League Two, Accrington Stanley beat Torquay 3-1, Burton and Dagenham shared a 1-1 draw, Oxford beat Northampton 2-0, Plymouth and Hereford drew 1-1 whilst Rotherham beat Wimbledon 1-0 as did Shrewsbury who beat Macclesfield 1-0.