The D3D4 correspondents give their reports from today’s action in League One & Two…
MATCH REPORT: Morecambe 1-2 Mansfield Town
Good Heavens – it’s Bad Evans!
Seventh-placed Mansfield visited nineteenth in the League Two table Morecambe today having tipped the balance of wins against the Shrimps – five against four – in their very fortunate victory against Jim Bentley’s side at Field Mill last Christmas. As reported at the time, Seasons’ Greetings were NOT exchanged at the end of the game between a gloating Mansfield Manager Steve Evans and his opposite number. You’d think that one racist stereotype of a Glaswegian – a fat slob with red hair, a deep-fried Mars Bar in batter in one hand and a can of Tennant’s strong lager in the other as he utters the immortal words `See You Jimmy!’– would be the very last thing you’d want to be associated with as a Scotsman, wherever you’re from. But Glasgow native and Mansfield Manager Steve Evans appears to revel in this image and seemingly can’t resist any chance to indulge in it. His combative, aggressive manner has won him few friends in football and his behaviour during the match in December hasn’t won him any admirers at Morecambe either.
Wigan Athletic loanee Callum Lang – fresh from being named the EFL Player Of The Month – was in the Shrimps’ starting line-up along with Max Muller, whose loan-period from Wycombe has been extended this month until the end of the season.
It was a pretty scrappy first half played under leaden skies on a heavy pitch. Morecambe had a setback after just ten minutes when Steven Old had to leave the field injured and Jim Bentley replaced the huge Kiwi central defender with midfielder Andy Fleming. Kevin Ellison had a golden chance to put the Shrimps one-nil up after just three minutes but sliced his effort with his weaker right foot, allowing Rhys Bennett to head the ball away. After almost twenty minutes, substitute Fleming aimed an excellent cross at ex-Stag Vadaine Oliver at the far post but the Shrimps’ Number Nine was flagged offside.
With Evans and his partner in crime Paul Raynor constantly haranguing the match officials from the sidelines, the Stags never seriously tested Barry Roche in the home goal at any time during the opening half; Kane Hemmings’ snapshot after 27 minutes being collected relatively easily by Big Baz. Down the other end, just two minutes later, Hemmings lost his footing and allowed Alex Kenyon a free header on goal which went just over the bar. Straight after this – and as the pressure mounted on the visitors – Malind Benning did really well to get in front of Lang and clear Ellison’s low cross into the penalty area away to safety. But the most significant action of the opening period arrived after precisely half an hour when Christian Pearce played a ball back to his goalkeeper without looking. Young Player of the Month Lang pounced on the ball and gratefully took it past Conrad Logan and slotted it home to put the hosts into the lead. That was basically it but Morecambe returned to the Dressing Rooms deservedly one goal to the good.
The Mansfield boss made double substitutions at half time, taking Captain Zander Diamond off after he had been booked for an off-the-ball incident involving former team-mate Oliver during the first period. Initially at least, however, Morecambe had the better of the things once the match re-started. They might have gone further ahead after an hour when Fleming spun on the edge of the box and unleashed a fierce strike which Logan excelled to stop low down to his right. Gradually, however, the Stags started to get back into the game and Alex MacDonald tried his luck from 30 yards out after 65 minutes and only just missed. Roche then had to be aware when he was able to gather the ball just ahead of Bennett after Danny Rose had flicked-on MacDonald’s ball into the box. But Danny Rose himself finished-off an excellent move down the Mansfield left after 70 minutes. CJ Hamilton played a clever one-two with substitute Will Atkinson and then slid a sublime pass into the middle for Rose to sweep it home to equalise for the Nottinghamshire club. Mansfield started pushing for a winner after this and Roche did well to hold a stinging shot from Hemmings after 78 minutes. Referee Seb Stockbridge allowed four minutes of extra time and with literally the last chance of the game, Mal Benning got on the end of a knock-back from a MacDonald cross and walloped the ball past Roche to score what seemed to be his first ever goal for Mansfield: after the match, his Manager suggested that the final touch came off Jimmy Spencer
Losing in this manner – whoever actually scored the winning goal – is always a sickener. To lose twice at the death against a team with as ungracious a Manager as the Stags’ Evans is even more sickening: it would be no surprise if he really did say “See You Jim!” to the Morecambe manager at the end of the contest. The win gave Mansfield the double over Morecambe this term and propelled them into an automatic promotion place in third position in the division.
That’s no win in four now for Morecambe who find themselves right back in the mire at the bottom of the EFL. Despite losing, they still found themselves in the seemingly magic nineteenth position this evening. This is because fellow-strugglers Forest Green Rovers, Crewe and – crucially – Chesterfield also lost today, the latter at home. With Yeovil being knocked-out of the FA Cup last night and thus obviously not competing, only Barnet of the lowest six clubs in League Two actually gained a point today. They remain right at the bottom of the table, four points adrift of FGR who in turn are four points behind the Shrimps with a game in hand. Despite today’s disappointment, there is still all to play for in the basement of the EFL.
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 2 Aaron McGowan (Y); 22 Max Muller; 5 Steven Old (8 Andy Fleming 10 mins); 16 Sam Lavelle (Y); 24 Michael Rose (C); 4 Alex Kenyon ( 7 Garry Thompson 83 mins); 14 Luke Conlan; 29 Callum Lang (15 Aaron Wildig 72 mins); 11 Kevin Ellison); 9 Vadaine Oliver.
Subs Not Used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 17 Mitchell Lund; 28 Adam McGurk; 10 Adam Campbell.
Mansfield Town: 1 Conrad Logan; 2 Rhys Bennett; 6 Zander Diamond (C) (Y) (10 Paul Anderson 45 mins); 5 Krystian Pearce; 3 Malind Benning; 17 Alfie Potter (11 Will Atkinson 45 mins); 7 Alex MacDonald; 26 Joel Byrom; 22 CJ Hamilton; 32 Danny Rose; 23 Kane Hemmings (15 Jimmy Spencer 79 mins).
Subs not used: 12 Bobby Olejnik; 9 Lee Angol; 4 Paul Digby; 24 Calum Butcher.
Ref: Sebastian Stockbridge.
words Roger Fitton, D3D4 Morecambe correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Oldham Athletic 1-2 Plymouth Argyle
It’s been a week of change at Oldham Athletic, as Abdallah Lemsagam took ownership of the club on Friday, but little had changed on the field as the predictably leaky Latics defence continued to struggle.
The match started fairly evenly, with Latics creating space for Ben Pringle and Jack Byrne to get crosses in the box but it was Plymouth who opened the scoring after 17 minutes, again down to some poor defending. A diagonal cross looped to Sarcevic who had all the time in the world to pick his spot as he fired the away side into the lead with a tidy volley from the edge of the penalty area. Just 2 minutes later, the Plymouth midfield managed to once again carve open the Latics defence. This time it was Cameron Dummigan who was caught out of position. The winger managed to cut easily inside and smashed a cross into the area which took a deflection and Johny Placide parried his save straight to the Argyle striker Ruben Lameiras.
Poor goalkeeping from the Haitian who has not been in his finest form in recent weeks. Once again, Oldham found themselves 2 down within the first 20 minutes. It was clear that the system wasn’t working and Wellens made his first change of the game after just 26 minutes when Ousmane Fane made way for Duckens Nazon – who came on to make his debut and offered an attacking option for the Latics. The young striker made an immediate impact, having his shot saved at the near post after only 2 minutes on the pitch. Nazon made himself a real nuisance to the Argyle defence and should really have an assist in the 37th minute – Ben Pringle played him through and the Haitian striker crossed the ball to Craig Davies who seemed to trip over his own feet. A poor miss from the number 9. The action wasn’t yet over for the first half and Remi Matthews made an outstanding save to deny a strong Craig Davies header. At half time, Plymouth walked in deserved leaders but it was clear Oldham weren’t laying down.
The 2nd half showed an uplifted Oldham side, who had clearly had some inspiring words in the dressing room. In the 54th minute Latics caught some rare luck when Yann Songo’o put the ball into his own net after Davies played a smart, low cross into the 6 yard area. This gave the home side a new lease of life as they took control of the game and just 5 minutes later Kean Bryan had his header cleared off the line. Oldham were taking the game to Argyle and in the 70th Remi Matthews entered the referee’s book for an incredible piece of time-wasting. Craig Davies was released and Matthews rushed out to deal with the ball. After failing to convincingly clear the ball, Matthews wrestled with Davies for ball – preventing a quick throw in. An incredible scene that was not met well by the home fans. With 13 minutes left to play, super-sub Aaron Holloway replaced Ryan McLaughlin – a real intent to find the equaliser by introducing another striker. With time running out, Jack Byrne almost managed to curl the ball into the top corner but his shot flew just over. The match finished 2-1 as Oldham fell to their 2nd consecutive loss in the league.
Oldham are now 9 games without a win in the league – the last win being the 5-1 victory over Northampton on the 9th December and Richie Wellens has admitted that he is feeling the pressure. Plymouth, meanwhile, have continued their impressive form and sit comfortably in mid-table.
FULL TIME: Oldham Athletic (Davies 54’) 1-2 Plymouth Argyle (Sarcevic 17’, Lameiras 19’)
Oldham Athletic: Placide, Dummigan, Bryan, Gerrard, Nepomuceno, Fane (Nazon 26’), Pringle, McLaughlin (Holloway 77’), Byrne, Gardner, Davies.
Subs not used: De La Paz, Hamer, Benyu, Obadeyi, Duffus.
Plymouth Argyle: Matthews, Sawyer, Songo’o, Ness, Sarcevic, Carey (Church 90+3’), Lameiras (Sinclair-Taylor 86’), Bradley, Threlkeld, Taylor, Cox.
Subs not used: Miller, Ainsworth, Grant, Cooper, Sangster.
Referee: Martin Coy
Attendance: 4,274 (588 visiting supporters)
words Chris Stringer, D3D4 Oldham Athletic correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Carlisle United 1-0 Forest Green Rovers
A first half goal from Jamie Devitt was all separated two improving sides at an incredibly blustery Brunton Park.
In a very scrappy affair with a lack of clear-cut chances, neither team did too much wrong but Carlisle finished the game six points from the play-off places as Forest Green remain in the relegation places.
With new signings Cole Stockton and Kris Twardek on loan from Millwall in their lineup, Keith Curle’s men aimed to stretch their clean sheet run whilst Mark Cooper’s men aimed to continue their revival.
Some extra layers were added to the clash as the owner of United owns a meat company and Rovers are an icon as the first vegan football club.
The match started as it meant to go on – with no team able to gain the upper hand with a lack of opportunities in front of goal. The ball constantly went out of control in the air and until a team decided against lumping the ball up, the score was deadlocked. Shining through the match for the home side was Canadian loanee Twardek, who played out wide. His ability to take players on & tirelessly pressing up the field caused huge problems for the away side. After a strong run down the middle after holding off numerous men he was eventually fouled and Carlisle won a free-kick around 35 yards out. Sharply, midfield enforcer Mike Jones decided to whip the ball out to captain Danny Grainger to cross into the box; instead of simply launching it forward. It was Clint Hill who won the header above Forest Green players for the blues and the ball fell to the free & oncoming Jamie Devitt who smashed it into the back of the net from around 10 yards out as the Green Devils failed to pick him up.
Soon after, the physical Forest Green strikers – Christian Doidge and Ruben Reid – were getting more and more frustrating as the Carlisle back trio of Gary Liddle (making his 550th professional appearance), Clint Hill and Tom Parkes were using their nous in order to build play in defence and frustrating the opposition before the interval came.
In the second half, the game failed to improve and actually got worse in quality. With Stockton struggling to hold up the all and Devitt & Twardek losing energy for the hosts, the visitors came further into the encounter using both crosses and sharp forward play. The game was played in midfield most of the time and a few heated exchanges between players came about. A penalty claim for Rovers came when Parkes lost the ball in the box and Doidge went down after the pair went for the ball but the referee, who was appointed late, waved the appeals away. As time ran out, Carlisle sat back and brought on the likes of Sam Cosgrove and Kelvin Etuhu to increase physicality despite Reid coming off for Forest Green as they held the majority of possession for the remainder of the match. Surprisingly, there was five minutes of added time and despite nervous around the stadium another goal didn’t come. A strange occurrence in the match is that United had both of their goalkeepers booked – for time wasting on a goal kick and holding the ball in order to waste time on the bench respectively. Once the final whistle from the referee came, a roar of relief came from the crowd.
Hard fought games are a staple of the division and can be looked back on with slight spite but are crucial to building character in a team and Carlisle were able to do that and Forest Green just couldn’t.
Attendance: 4,176 
Referee: Tom Nield
words Nathan Ridley, D3D4 Carlisle United correspondent
MATCH REPORT: FA CUP 4TH ROUND: Mk Dons 0-1 Coventry City
What a day that was on Saturday when nearly 8,000 Coventry City supporters turned Milton Keynes sky blue for the day. And it was made even better with Max Biamou scoring the solitary goal to put the Sky Blues into the hat for the next round.
It was a scruffy toe punt effort from the Frenchman but who cares less,as a goal is a goal and you’d have thought he’d scored with a thirty yard screamer, as all us City fans behind the goal celebrated it with wild jubilation and went berserk.
That goal came just after the hour mark so the home team had plenty of time to get back into the game, but the visitors manfully tackled and closed them down with gusto and frustrated the team in white. MKDons had more possession but that counts for little if you can’t stick it in the net, so even though Biamou’s goal won’t win the FA Cups goal of the round, it was enough to seal a hard fought victory.
What impressed me most about this win was the team spirit in the Coventry side, each player wearing the shirt put in a shift from the keeper to the strikers upfront. And in captain Michael Doyle who is a no nonsense Irishman, who leads by example with his tenacity and drive, he commands the midfield and his experience is key as the younger players learn from him and I’m so glad he came back to us. Up next on Tuesday evening it’s back to the League with Cambridge visiting the Ricoh Arena, and obviously it’s important and vital we get the win as promotion is paramount this season. But who doesn’t enjoy a good FA Cup run?
Leaving the MK Dons stadium on Saturday the atmosphere amongst our fans was superb, and we celebrated like we’d already won the Cup ! And why not? Football is a passionate sport and a game of highs and lows, so excuse us Coventry City fans for our excitement and beaming smiles, as we grab any joy going as we know it may not last long.
So it’s the draw tonight and who will we get?
Whoever it will be you can be certain the Sky Blue Army will be out in force.
words Kevin Halls, D3D4 Coventry City correspondent