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The League Two Review – Week 3

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We’ve moved into the third week of the campaign and an interesting match day was in store and what a match day of League Two football it turned out to be. After 5 0-0′s the previous week, fans were treated to an amazing 42 goals in 12 fixtures this week. Comebacks and thrashings were at the plenty and it is a testament to the league the quality which was on display.

As ever we start with the League Two news:

  • John Rooney, the younger brother of Wayne, has received more interest state-side and shall now be undertaking a trial with the Portland Timbers as he aims to gain a place on the Major League Soccer draft system. The opportunity comes after he had already been trialled at Seattle Sounders.
  • Torquay plan to decrease their capacity by 250 due to health and safety reasons. The Plainmoor club have recently applied for planning permission to build a new main stand and replace the existing grandstand which has been in place since the 1920′s.
  • A tribunal has told Hereford they will be paid, a possible, £100,000 by Bournemouth for the transfer of winger Marc Pugh. An initial payment of £60,000 will be made at first and then a further £10,000 for every 15 games he plays up to 60. The deal also includes a 10% sell on clause.

So to this weekend’s games and we start with two teams with aspirations of promotion Southend and Port Vale.

Southend 1-3 Port Vale

A game which shaped to be even on paper was anything but as Vale strolled to success. From kick off Southend were on the back foot and within five minute were behind. Justin Richards was fantastically picked out by Marc Richards and the striker converted the header with consummate ease.

Vale were rampant and unlucky to go in at the break only one to the good but nine minutes into the second half got the second they deserved. Louis Dodds had the easiest of tap ins after Sean Riggs had seen his effort blocked. Marc Richards then made it three with a long range effort before a Gareth Owen on goal gave the home team a consolation they scarcely deserved.

Next fixture – Southend: Bradford(a), Port Vale: Torquay(h)

Accrington Stanley 3-0 Macclesfield

A Sean McConville hat-trick was the catalyst for an easy win, as Stanley strolled to success. The first goal came in the 29th minute as McConville added the finishing touch to a Ray Puterill cross, it was a sign for things to come as nine minutes later a smart turn and finish in the box gave him his second.

Macclesfield rarely pressured throughout and their normal ‘up in your face’ attitude was distinctly missing and the only surprise was it took until the 72nd minute for Accrington to score a third and McConville to complete his hat-trick as he blasted in from 25 yards. Macclesfield boss Gary Simpson offered few excuses for the performance and made it clear he expects a lot more from his players.

Next fixture – Accrington Stanley: Oxford Utd(a), Macclesfield: Chesterfield(h)

Burton Albion 3-2 Morecambe

A five goal thriller saw Burton secure their first win of the season after coming back from 2-1 down. A goal hadn’t been seen in a Burton league game all season after previous 0-0 draws and so it was with great surprise that after 1 minute the deadlock was already broken.

Aaron Webster superbly heading home from a Andy Corbett cross. Albion didn’t lead for long as on the ninth minute Andrew Fleming provided an equalizer with a neat finish. The same player then grabbed Morecambe’s second as he was first to react to a saved Phil Jevons shot. The Morecambe second only seemed to inspire Burton as they began to dominate and were rewarded with their increased threat on the 75th minute as Webster finished following a Lewis Scott corner.

Burton then searching for the winner came up with it six minutes later. Greg Pearson was fouled by Paul Scott in the area and Pearson himself scored the penalty. The remaining nine minutes were frantic but no clear cut chances were created by either side and Burton held on for victory.

Next fixture – Burton Albion: Cheltenham(a), Morecambe: Gillingham(h)

Bury 1-1 Northampton

Northampton earned their second point of the season as they produced a solid defensive performance to hold Bury to a single goal. The first half was an even affair with both teams showing a desire to score without risking a great deal defensively. The scores didn’t reflect this evenness however, as Northampton however had the lead going into the interval with Steve Guinan picked himself up after being fouled to fire in a penalty on the 33rd minute.

It was a timid start to the second half but it wasn’t long before Bury slowly began to increase pressure on the defence of Northampton and the increasing pressure told on the 69th minute as David Worral tapped home a rebound of the post.  The goal was signal for Bury to lay siege to The Cobblers goal but they held firm and anything that breached the defence was easily dealt with by Northampton stopper  Oscar Jansson.

Next fixture – Bury: Barnet(a), Northampton: Wycombe(h)

Chesterfield 4-0 Hereford

Chesterfield registered an easy victory as Danny Whitaker helped himself to a hat-trick. Hereford were weakest in every department and the defense was best described by Hereford manager Simon Davey ‘as at six and sevens’. Whitaker’s first was from a penalty awarded after Jack Lester was fouled.

The second came from a Lester through ball which Whitaker took very smartly and he completed a hat-trick on the hour having the completing the simplest of finishes. Simon Ford grabbed the fourth from a corner and left Hereford wondering what might of been had Ryan Valentine not missed a penalty at 2-0.

Next fixture – Chesterfield: Macclesfield(a), Hereford: Rotherham(h)

Crewe 7-0 Barnet

Barnet were completely routed by Crewe, as the home side registered their first win of the season. Clayton Donaldson and Shaun Miller notched braces with Joel Grant, David Artell and AJ Leitch-Smith completing the scoring. Barnet were terribly poor and I think the best way to describe this game is with the words of Mark Stimson, Barnet manager:

”I’m more than shell-shocked, I’m very disappointed, we put a performance on that was nowhere near what was expected. All I can do is apologize to the supporters who traveled and spent a lot of money to watch the team.”

Lots of credit to Crewe as they never relented on the strangle hold they held on the game but Barnet were terribly poor and it cannot be ignored.

Next fixture – Crewe: Lincoln(a), Barnet: Bury(h)

Gillingham 0-1 Lincoln

My betting prowess came to show again as a much improved Lincoln side got their first points of the season in a thoroughly deserved away win. Cian Hughton was the scorer of the goal in the ninth minute producing a cool finish when Gills keeper Alan Julian had parried a Albert Jarrett shot.

Gillingham were awful throughout and barely tested Imps keeper Joe Anyon. Akinfenwa did have an effort hit the post but the experience of Jamie Clapham and Ian Pearce helped Lincoln see the game out with a degree of comfort.

Next fixture – Gillingham: Morecambe(a), Lincoln: Crewe(h)

Rotherham 6-4 Cheltenham

An extravaganza of football took place at the Don Valley stadium this afternoon and its only a shame i wasn’t personally there myself to witness it. The first of the ten goals came from Jeff Goulding to give Cheltenham the lead before Adam Le Fondre scored from 18 yards to equalize.

Cheltenham then took charge and scored twice to lead 3-1, after 36 minutes, thanks to Wes Thomas and Shane Jeffers . It still wasn’t the end of the first half scoring as Danny Harrison curled a shot into the corner to send the teams in at the break with the score at 2-3.

Cheltenham then had a nightmare 10 minutes at the beginning of the second half as 2-3 turned into 5-3. Le Fondre grabbed his second through a header and completed his hat trick after being quickest to a rebound after a missed penalty. Ryan Cresswell grabbed Rotherhams fifth and ended the 10 minutes of madness.

Le Fondre grabbed his fourth and Rotherhams sixth on 66 minutes, the Robins then missed a penalty before the scoring was finally completed in the last minute by Keith Lowe.

Next fixture – Rotherham: Hereford(a), Cheltenham: Burton Albion(h)

Shrewsbury 1-1 Aldershot

Shrewsbury failed to keep up their 100% record with the visit of Aldershot only yielding a draw. Captain Ian Sharpe had given the Shrews the lead on 29 minutes heading home a Mark Wright’s cross. The lead didn’t last long as within two minutes, Anthony Charles found himself unmarked to add the finishing touch to a Marvin Morgan flick on.

The game continued evenly and the only difference in the stalemate of the teams at the end was the number of players. Matt Harrold getting himself sent off for his second booking almost on the final whistle.

Next fixture – Shrewsbury: Stockport(a), Aldershot: Stevenage(h)

Stevenage 3-1 Stockport

Stevenage grabbed their first win of the season and in the football league as Stockport wilted once falling behind.  Stockport were comfortable and looking increasingly dangerous until Charlie Griffin headed in from a Ronnie Heary cross. Heads dropped all over the pitch and it was no surprise when Micheal Bostwick made it two on 43 minutes.

The Hatters tried to galvanize themselves but Stevenage were now rampant and Griffin made it three with a close range finish and meant that George Donelly’s late header was nothing much more than a consolation.  

The victory was very much deserved and a historic moment for the football club achieved.

Next fixture –  Stevenage: Aldershot(a), Stockport: Shrewsbury(h)

Torquay 2-0 Bradford

A club record 10th successive clean sheet was the foundation for a routine victory over Bradford.  Things didn’t start well for Bradford as Danny Stevens 25 yard effort on 2 minutes gave the Gulls the lead and it was only ten minute later that Bradford were reduced by a man.

Robbie Threlfall was given his marching orders after a deliberate handball on the line, the resultant penalty was saved however and Torquay had to wait until the 66th minute to make things safe as Chris Zebroski was hit by a goalkeepers clearance and the ball flew in.

The visitors hardly threatened and it was only down to Jon McLaughlin in the visitors goal the scoreline wasn’t higher. Plenty of chances went begging but Torquay march on and if they continue like this not many teams will finish above them.

Next fixture – Torquay: Port Vale(a), Bradford: Southend(h)

Wycombe 0-0 Oxford Utd

Both keepers were on form as a string of wonderful stops kept both strike-forces at bay. Wycombe dominated the beginning of the game and the closest they come was from a Andy Sadell free kick but was pushed wide by Ryan Clarke in the Oxford goal.

As the game wore on Oxford grew in confidence and it took two fantastic saves from Nikki Bull to keep Wycombe level. The first from a James Constable header, which he tipped on to the bar, and the second a one-on-one opportunity where he denied Matt Green. Both teams had their moments of ascendacy and in the end both gained a point they truly deserved.

Next fixture – Wycombe: Northampton(a), Oxford Utd: Accrington Stanley

Thats the round up complete and I can only reiterate what fantastic entertainment was put on from all the teams this week.

To next week now and the obvious stand out tie between Port Vale and Torquay as the pace setters of the division face each other. Vale’s off the field activities didn’t effect them this week and as the takeover fallouts continue it will be worth seeing whether it starts to effect the team.

Torquay will arrive full of confidence and will take a fantastic performance from either team to grab the 3 points.

For the gamblers, choices this week are Northampton to win at home and Rotherham to continue scoring at Hereford.

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