The D3D4 correspondents bring you their reports, frustrations and exultations following another scintillating weekend of League One & Two football…
MATCH REPORT: Charlton Athletic 2-3 Oxford United
Just when our season needed a shot in the arm we get one at the Valley. Oxford came off the back of a pretty decent January as far as transfer business was concerned and showed determination to keep hold of Ryan Ledson despite some underhanded attempts to unsettle the player and force a transfer by certain cheapskate Championship clubs.
It appears that keeping Ryan around was not only sensible but inspirational. He played his socks off for the Yellows in a fantastic performance away to the Addick who themselves were coming off the back of a decent January ready for a play-off push.
The game was helped by the 1,400 away fans giving the sparsely populated Valley a bit of atmosphere and it was the home side that threatened early on with a couple of efforts first from Tarique Fosu and then from Mark Marshall. Oxford came closest though as Jonathan Obika, starting due to an injury to Wes Thomas in the warm up, turned and smashed an effort against the crossbar.
Oxford were playing a number of young players and Todd Kane was impressive on his debut while Ashley Smith-Brown was also making a decent impression on his first appearance. Oxford were forced to play without any recognisable strikers when Obika went off injured for young hot shot Malachi Napa. Napa had looked good in the “trophy that must not be named” a couple of weeks ago and he impressed again this afternoon.
The first half petered out and Charlton had the first chance of the second half as Eastwood had to push away a Magennis effort. Both sides were trying to play decent football and were creating chances but Charlton struck first when the ball broke for Kashi to drill home from the edge of the box.
Despite having to adapt without their usual front men Oxford kept going and were rewarded with an equaliser on 76 minutes. James Henry struck home after good work from Napa who flicked the ball into his path for a composed finish. Now all Oxford needed to do was take the sting out of the game and not give Charlton a route back in front.
Well needless to say they did the opposite and it was 2-1 to the Addicks on their very next attack. Kane looked to let the ball go out of play but DaSilva’s quick reactions robbed him of the ball and Magennis was there to gratefully apply the finish as the ball was zipped across the face of goal.
2-1 down with 12 minutes left soon became 2-1 down with just two minutes to go with Buckley-Ricketts driving against the post as another defeat seemed certain. Well not this time as in the 89th minute Kane made up for his error by smashing home a Ricardinho cross before pandemonium ensued in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Oxford grabbed the winner. Ryan Ledson, who could so easily have been playing for a Championship club, drove home the winner from the edge of the area to complete the comeback to leave Charlton fans bereft and the Oxford fans breathless.
Massive missed opportunity for Charlton who will have to be a lot more resilient if they are to over take a Bradford side that are in freefall following another defeat today.
What a way to keep hope alive. Next up Bristol Rovers at home.
words James Richards D3D4 Football
MATCH REPORT: Port Vale 0-0 Morecambe
Valiant Effort for battling Morecambe
The Valiants were very busy whilst the January Transfer Window remained open. This week alone, they have signed three central defenders: Lincoln City’s Callum Howe permanently whilst Oxford United’s Charlie Raglan and Kyle Howkins from West Brom have signed on-loan until the end of the campaign. As manager Neil Aspin has looked to shore-up his team’s defence, this trio join Zak Jules from Shrewsbury along with at least midfielder Luke Hannant from Gateshead and strikers Donovan Wilson from Wolves and Dior Angus from Redditch United. That’s the best part of half a football team: three of them actually featured in the starting line-up for Port Vale today and one was on the bench.
So what of Morecambe and their attempts to bring in new blood to help in their fight against relegation? Manager Jim Bentley has made his frustration about his inability to sign new players known publicly this week. He had tried and failed to re-sign both former leading scorer Shaun Miller from Carlisle and ex-Tranmere striker Cole Stockton – not for the first time. But lack of resources meant that Miller signed for relegation rivals Crewe Alexandra instead and Stockton then replaced him at Brunton Park (and went on to score for them in his debut at Wycombe today). The only new deal of any sort Jim has been able to pull-off throughout January is that of Scottish Under 21 International winger Gregg Wylde, who has signed on-loan from Plymouth. To add to his quip that he had `twenty-five quid’ in his transfer budget, the Shrimps’ boss also said that his club were in no position to compete not only with National League clubs in terms of finances, but couldn’t even match the offers some clubs in the leagues below them were able to make to attract new personnel to their playing staffs. It’s a dire situation but as the Manager never tires of saying “It is what it is” and he just has to get on with it.
The situation Morecambe find themselves in is an inevitable result of the lack of direction and failure in purpose of the current Board. Nobody has to look very far to see how a small club with an even smaller potential catchment area than Morecambe have should be run. AFC Fylde, just a few miles away to the south and with an average gate of 1700, are exactly such an entity. Their seemingly inexorable march towards the Football League has been assured by proper management of the club, its ambitions and its resources. It produced a blueprint to be in the EFL by 2022 a whole eleven years ago when there were about 900 teams between them and that particular pinnacle. Now, five promotions later, there are only eight. How Jim Bentley must have envied them as they appeared live on the telly a few weeks ago, holding their own at their superb Mill Farm ground with high-flying Wigan Athletic; Shrimps cast-off Matty Blinkhorn outstandingly leading their line. If Fylde can do it, so could we. So why haven’t we?
Vale had already walloped Morecambe 0-3 at the Globe Arena this season and were thus looking for the double over their Lancashire rivals to propel them upwards from eighteenth position in League Two. Having said that, they didn’t win a game throughout January and have found themselves slowly but steadily dragged back into the struggle for survival in the EFL since Neil Aspin’s appointment earlier this season gave the team from the Potteries an immediate lift. The Shrimps, meanwhile, were desperate for at least a point to try and keep their heads above water right at the bottom of the EFL in twentieth place. Wylde was put straight into a much-changed first team for the visitors and Raglan lined-up for the Valiants for the first time. The Shrimps’ changes were needed due to injuries to Barry Roche, Callum Lang, Steven Old and Callum Lang. A family bereavement also sadly denied the club the services of Max Muller today.
Vale probably shaded the opening part of the first period but at no time tested reserve goalkeeper Danijel Nizic in the visitors’ goal. After eleven minutes, Aaron McGowan made excellent progress down the wing and slid across a pearl of a ball which new boy Charlie Raglan did brilliantly to sweep away at the cost of a corner. Wylde came close to immediately opening his account for the Shrimps when he forced a tremendous save from Rob Lainton right up in his top corner after the ball fell to him following the corner kick. Two minutes later, the debutant came even closer with a tremendous strike from twenty-five yards which Lainton did even better to keep out. Vadaine Oliver tried a spectacular overhead kick after sixteen minutes which saw his shot go over the bar. Then Garry Thompson just failed to connect with another ball into the box shortly afterwards. At the other end, the ever-dangerous Tom Pope headed a cross from David Worrall over the bar after 21 minutes. Luke Hannant then tried his luck for the visitors two minutes later but again missed the target. At the other end, Oliver headed the ball down for an unmarked Thommo after 25 minutes but the veteran striker fluffed his lines and Lainton saved easily. Alex Kenyon then shot too high over the target after good approach play by the visitors and Lainton again came to Vale’s rescue when he won his personal battle with Wylde by denying him with another tremendous stop after 34 minutes, pushing a ferocious strike from the Scottish striker against the frame of the goal and away to safety. Thanks to their goalkeeper, the half ended goalless with the visiting team having created the better chances.
Port Vale came out for the second half far more determined than they had been in the opening one and started to apply some sustained pressure to the Morecambe defence for the first time in the game. The best chance they managed to fashion in this period arrived just after an hour when Nizic did well to get down low to a free kick from Michael Tonge and hold onto the ball. The same player crossed from a further free kick for Pope to put another header wide after 64 minutes. At the other end, though, there was panic stations in the home defence after 72 minutes as Oliver threatened after a long ball was played into their box – the goalkeeper and defender Nathan Smith combined to clear the danger. The best chance of the half so far fell to Pope after 81 minutes when his header from a corner only just missed the post with Nizic struggling. Vale had another chance to take the lead with just three minutes still scheduled to play. Substitute Donovan Wilson wriggled past two defenders and made room for a shot which whistled just wide of the goal. Shortly afterwards, he was denied by a block in the Morecambe box but Shrimps’ substitute Kevin Ellison then had a golden chance to pinch all three points for the visiting team at the other end which was yet again saved by the truly Valiant Rob Lainton to ensure the match ended in a scoreless draw.
The point which Morecambe battled for today kept them in twentieth position. Forest Green’s excellent win over Coventry dragged them clear of the relegation positions as Chesterfield’s loss at home saw them fall back into them. Seemingly doomed Barnet lost again to go five points adrift of the Spireites right at the bottom of League Two and the team immediately below Morecambe, Crewe, also lost again, 4-1 at Notts County. And for the record, the Coasters drew 2-2 against Eastleigh at Mill Farm this afternoon after twice being behind. They remain ninth in the National League.
Port Vale: 1 Rob Lainton; 21 James Gibbons; 24 Nathan Smith; 4 Charlie Raglan; 3 Zak Jules (8 Danny Pugh 52 mins); 6 Antony Kay (Y) (28 Donovan Wilson 78 mins); 32 Michael Tonge; 34 Luke Hannant;10 David Worrall; 31 Ben Whitfield (15 Anton Forrester 45 mins); 9 Tom Pope (C).
Subs not used: 23 Ryan Boot; 2 Callum Howe; 5 Joe Davis; 7 Marcus Harness.
Morecambe: 12 Danijel Nizic; 6 Dean Winnard; 2 Aaron McGowan; 3 Patrick Brough; 8 Andy Fleming (15 Aaron Wildig 83 mins); 16 Sam Lavelle; 24 Michael Rose (C); 4 Alex Kenyon; 7 Garry Thompson (28 Adam McGurk 83 mins); 21 Gregg Wylde; 9 Vadaine Oliver(11 Kevin Ellison 75 mins).
Subs not used: 20 Niall Maher; 17 Mitchell Lund; 25 Ben Hedley; 10 Adam Campbell.
Ref: Ben Toner.
3968 (117 from Morecambe)
words Roger Fitton, D3D4 Morecambe Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Oldham Athletic 2-1 Bradford City
On a cold and wet afternoon at the coldest ground in England, two out of form sides met at Boundary Park with hope of finding their confidence once again. Oldham were without a win in the league since the start of December, whilst Bradford had lost their last 4 league games.
Bradford started the game strongest and very nearly gave themselves an early lead when the ball found Chicksen at the back post unmarked – he somehow found row Z with his close range attempt after just 5 minutes. As the game progressed, it opened up and it was the home side that struck first in the 12th minute. Right-back Cameron Dummigan hit a venomous shot from 30 yards which rocketed into the top left of the goal – a real contender for goal of the season, though Oldham have made a habit of scoring impressive goals this season. The defender was booked for over celebrating the goal – apparently hugging fans is an outrageous thing to do after scoring such a wonderful goal.
The Bantams almost hit back minutes later but Charlie Wyke’s effort was blocked by Anthony Gerrard. Oldham seemed lively and 10 minutes later almost doubled their lead when Duckens Nazon won a corner following some neat footwork; Ben Pringle’s corner was attacked well and Dan Gardner’s looping header hit the crossbar.
Bradford fans sat nervously in their seat as their side looked sloppy in possession. Half an hour into the match, unpopular referee Anthony Blackhouse had to leave the field after picking up and injury – he was replaced by his assistant, Michael D’Aguilar. Bradford’s sloppy passing was capitalised on well by Nazon, who looked to create many chances and the Haitian probably should have scored after 40 minutes when Jack Byrne threaded him through, his placed shot was well saved by Doyle. Gardner went close following a neat free kick on the brink of half time and the Latics walked in happy with their performance at half time.
Bradford came out looking livelier in the second half, but Oldham continued to play professionally. Both side, however, had an incredible habit of managing to pass the ball to the opposition. The characteristic sloppy defending of Oldham wasn’t on display and this was seen particularly by Anthony Gerrard, who made several key interceptions – including in the 51st minute when he denied Wyke the chance to bring the away side level. As the hour mark came around, Bradford began to press as Oldham looked lethargic – struggling for fitness on a tough playing surface. Aaron Holloway replaced Duckens Nazon, as Oldham looked for some power up front. Dan Gardner limped off after 67 minutes, replaced by Ryan McLaughlin. Bradford continued to attack but looked wasteful, in the 71st minute McCarten fired across goal but no one got on the end of his cross.
Wellens showed that he was really looking to win when he brought on the attacking Tope Obadeyi for Jack Byrne in the 73rd minute. These attacking changes were rewarded when in the 86th minute, Ryan McLaughlin found Aaron Holloway unmarked 6 yards from goal. The big forward coolly headed into the bottom right corner. Bradford didn’t roll over, though, and they made it a nervy finish when in the 88th minute Gibson followed in on Placide’s save and got a goal back for the visiting side. In a long 7 minutes of added time, Bradford piled on the pressure and had a penalty appeal overruled and corners cleared. It was the home side who managed to claim all 3 points though, as Oldham got that much needed victory.
Wellens will be hoping this win gives the players the confidence they so dearly need. His side put in a professional performance and, though the players lacked confidence at times, they stuck to a game plan that capitalised on Bradford’s weaknesses. Bradford fans will be starting to get worried about their side’s promotion hopes. Their side looked sloppy and they have now lost 5 games on the bounce – not the start to 2018 they hoped for.
FULL TIME: Oldham Athletic (Dummigan 12’, Holloway 86’) 2-1 Bradford City (Gibson 88’)
Oldham Athletic: Placide, Dummigan, Gerrard, Bryan, Moimbe, Fane, Gardner (McLaughlin 67’), Byrne (Obadeyi 73’), Pringle, Nazon (Holloway 62’), Davies.
Subs not used: De La Paz, Wilson, Benyu, Nepomuceno.
Bradford City: Doyle, McGowan, Chickson, Kilgallon, Vincelot (Poleon 73’), Wyke, McCarton (Gibson 80’), Warnock, Guy, McMahon, Lund (Dieng 62’).
Subs not used: Raeder, Brunker, Knight-Percival, Grodowski.
Referee: Anthony Blackhouse (replaced by Michael D’Aguilar).
Attendance: 5,526 (1,967 visiting supporters)
words Chris Stringer, D3D4 Oldham Athletic correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Rotherham United 2-0 AFC Wimbledon
Yet another cold wet & windy Saturday afternoon greeted the two most in form teams in League 1 at NYS this afternoon. The Millers started the game on the front foot & almost took an early lead when midfielder Will Vaulks hit a 25 yard effort just too high from an Anthony Forde cross. David Ball was the next Rotherham player to threaten when his close range effort was scrambled to safety by Don’s George Francomb.
The Millers fans amongst the 8,330 crowd sensed a goal was coming when a dangerous Joe Newell cross was expertly volleyed in by new Millers striker Michael Smith. Goalscorer Smith had to return to the dressing room for running repairs after an accidental clash of heads before a marauding run by Dons Liam Trotter saw the midfielder just crowded out by the Millers defence. In first half added time Rotherham’s Newell fizzed a long range effort inches over the bar before the whistle blew on a satisfactory 45 minutes from the home side.
HT Millers 1 Dons 0
Wimbledon had to improve in the second half & they tore into the Millers at the start of the second half. An almighty goalmouth scramble saw the Dons almost equalise through firstly Cody McDonald & then Francomb but the ball wouldn’t run kindly for either. Back came Rotherham & only an excellent save by Don’s keeper George Long from Vaulks kept the score at 1-0.
Wimbledon were having much more of the game now & a fantastic goalsaving tackle by Millers loanee defender Josh Emmanuel prevented McDonald levelling for the Dons. With Wimbledon having to push forward they were leaving gaps at the back & from a quick break Newell was denied by Long again. The Millers made the game safe in injury time when a shot from Millers sub Ryan Williams was parried by Long but Ball converted from around a yard out on the rebound.
FT Millers 2 Dons 0
TEN games unbeaten now for Paul Warnes team & 50 points probably means that they won’t be relegated. The Millers have now scored in each of their last 23 competitive matches, their last blank coming at Blackburn on September 26th. This was a deserved victory over a resolute, organised Dons side who provided a stern test for the 5th placed Millers side.
words Ian Bradley, D3D4 Rotherham United correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Peterborough United 0-1 Southend United
Saturday 3rd February 2018, English Football League 1.
PETERBOROUGH UNITED 0-1 SOUTHEND UNITED ATT: 5,114
Demetriou pen 7
Line-up- Bond, Shephard, Taylor, Tafazolli, Hughes, Forrester (Morias 71), Grant, Maddison, Cooper (Lloyd 70), Marriott, Bogle (Da Silva Lopes 80).
Filled with expectancy heading into this encounter with the Shrimpers, however the feeling of disappointment filled throughout by the time the final whistle eventually was blown. Also I was looking forward to feast my eyes on Omar Bogle, signed on loan until the end of the season from Championship high-flyers Cardiff City.
After just seven minutes, however goalkeeper Jonathan Bond caught Stephen McLaughlin in the area to give away an early penalty, he was booked for this infraction and worse still from a Posh perspective Demetriou confidently posted home the resulting spot-kick.
Posh had their chances in a truly tepid performance, Marriott after ten minutes, having his header saved in the top right hand corner. A minute later, Maddison tested Southend keeper Oxley from outside the box, once again the stopper was up to the challenge. George Cooper saw his free-kick loop over the bar, while Marriott had another effort saved just before half-time. Kightley missed a chance for Southend. Predominantly throughout the game, time-wasting seemed to be Southend’s main objective.
In the second-half, no inspirational improvement by the Posh, instead somewhat of a decline. Southend centre-half John White was injured and went off via a stretcher, while trying to tackle Marriott within a positive Peterborough attack.
The Shrimpers had better chances to extend their lead within the second period and seem on the ascendancy under Chris Powell. Both Simon Cox and McLaughlin coming close. Their new loan signing, Freddie Ludapo looked good after coming on in patches. However, Bogle as pre-stated, whom I was looking forward to observing in a Posh shirt was well marked-out of the game and continuously had more than one traveling player attached to his person. This constituted to him having just the one attempt, in which was unsurprisingly blocked before it reached even the keeper. He was eventually culled on the 80th minute for Da Silva Lopes.
Ten minutes of added time was heralded after the 90, however Hughes was to see, for a second time the ball hit the back of the net, and for the second time chalked off by the linesman’s flag. The other denied effort was after 36 minutes.
The visiting fans went home happy, but for the Posh this performance was indicative of inconsistency. It’s a good job I don’t pick a ‘Man of the Match’, within my match reports, because from a Peterborough perspective no man in blue deserved such an accolade. I would give it to the home supporters, a lot, like me who forked out £28 to witness such a toothless display.
words Ian McFarlane, D3D4 Peterborough United correspondent