The D3D4 Correspondents give their match reports from the games they have attend this weekend in League One and Two…
MATCH REPORT: Rochdale 0-0 Oxford United
In the freezing confines of Spotland the Dale and Oxford played out an entertaining 0-0 draw that does neither side any good in the respective goals. Oxford have fallen away from the play-off race in recent matches despite being unbeaten in the last three league games. They trail both Charlton and Portsmouth by four points with the Addicks having a game in hand.
Again though I would say we were fortunate to escape with a point from Spotland against a side who looked far better than their lowly league position would suggest. It would be massively disappointing to see Keith Hill’s side go down after the club rewarded the manager with a 5 year contract in recognition of how he has transformed them during his tenure.
They started the better side in this one and Simon Eastwood did well to turn a Steven Davies head past his post early on. He then had to make another good stop a short time later when Callum Camps let fly from distance. Oxford seemed to be daring Rochdale to score by giving away a load of set pieces in dangerous areas and Eastwood again had to save from a Camps free-kick on the half hour. The United defence stood up well to the aerial threat considering the number of opportunities they gave the home side but it was highly frustrating for those supporting the Yellows.
Oxford were poor in the middle of the park and Xemi looked lost at times while Jack Payne didn’t manage to produce his usual fluent football. Early in the second half Eastwood again pulled of a heroic save from Joseph Bunney after the Dale man got free at the far post to get on the end of Henderson’s floated cross.
Mousinho then had to pull off an excellent block before Mike Williamson headed a Camps effort off the line as the home side put the U’s under pressure but the game drifted away in the final 10 minutes as both sides seemed to be content with a point. It was a decent performance from Oxford considering the gritty nature of their opponents yet I am left with the feeling that the play-offs will again be an unattainable goal for the Yellows this season.
We are very rarely convincing and Clotet is reluctant to play two upfront which I would at least like to see on occasions from this Oxford side. In the past we have had some great strike partnerships and although the one up front systems seem to be more trendy these days having the option to go with two strikers would be useful when games are close.
Wigan are coming to town next and this will be a massive test for the Yellows who spectacularly failed to raise their game for the recent visit of Blackburn. I think the Latics will be League One Champions in May but let’s hope Clotet has learnt from the mistakes against Rovers. With Wigan next then a resurgent Gills on boxing day followed by a trip to Bradford, it could be a defining few weeks for the season and hoping we come out of it with at least four points.
Words James Richards, D3D4 Football
MATCH REPORT: Barnet 2-1 Morecambe
Empty-handed Return From The Hive.
Even if Mark McGhee’s Barnet won today’s game against Morecambe, they would still be two points adrift of the visitors. This is the harsh reality of life at the rock-bottom of the EFL. Before the contest, only four points separated Forest Green Rovers – the team just above the Bees in twenty-third place – and Crawley in seventeenth position in League Two. Barnet have won only one of their last fifteen league matches whereas the Shrimps have lost only one of their previous five. Historically, the Shrimps have the upper hand over today’s opponents with seven wins and five losses with four games drawn in the past. Rarely, however, has a game between the two clubs had as much potential significance as this one did before the first whistle sounded. Would Barnet fall further into the mire? Or would Morecambe earn themselves a little bit of breathing space at the wrong end of the Division?
Barnet started the better in a ground where the atmosphere was surprisingly flat for a game of this importance. After six minutes, the ball fell kindly to Barnet captain Michael Nelson’s feet but his scuffed shot in a situation where he had time to take aim and do better barely troubled Barry Roche in the Shrimps’ goal.
At the other end, though, Baz’s opposite number Jamie Stephens was forced into action just a minute later when he was forced to push away a shot from Elliot Osborne. With almost ten minutes on the clock, Ricardo Santos played a long ball which John Akinde chested-down to Shaquile Coulthirst only for him to screw a shot just wide of the post on the turn. Barnet’s next good chance fell to Jack Taylor who forced Roche into a decent save high to his left after a run and shot on the move from twenty-five yards out with eighteen minutes played. A minute later, Adam McGurk – who had already tried his luck and missed from 30 yards after twelve minutes – narrowly missed Stephens’ left hand post with a decent effort.
The bottom of the table club took the lead after half an hour however, when Jamal Campbell-Ryce on the Bees’ left spotted Roche out of his goal and brilliantly beat him with a world-class strike from all of thirty yards out. Things got even worse for the visitors just four minutes later when they lost possession and allowed Akinde to play a clever pass through the Morecambe defence which allowed Jack Taylor a clear run on goal. He kept his head and slotted the ball past Big Baz from twelve yards out to put the Bees two goals up. With the home crowd woken from their earlier stupor, the team from Lancashire attempted to get back into the game before the half time whistle sounded. After 39 minutes, the home goalkeeper was quickly off his line to deal with a threat from Vadaine Oliver. Then Aaron McGowan cut inside only to have his attempted shot well blocked by Nelson three minutes later. Morecambe captain Michael Rose then made an attempt from the edge of the box shortly before the break only to see his curling shot go just over the bar. But with the first half at an end, the hosts were good value for their lead.
Morecambe came out in the second half with a re-shuffled pack and started to put some concerted pressure on Barnet. Garry Thompson played in Oliver who set-up Callum Lang whose deflected shot hit the bar after just two minutes of the re-start. Two minutes later, Lang had an even better chance from just six yards out but scuffed a shot which Stephens gratefully collected. The potentially decisive moment of the match arrived though after 65 minutes when Akinde broke through the Shrimps defence and Roche brought him down but stayed on the pitch. The last time Baz faced a penalty from this giant of a man, he saved it. Today, he didn’t have to: Barnet’s Number Nine blasted the ball high over the bar from the spot.
Thommo was taken off after 69 minutes and possibly his first touch of the ball saw substitute Adam Campbell reduce the arrears with a shot into the top corner of the net from the edge of the Bees’ penalty area. Although the home team forced a couple of further half-chances, the rest of the match was largely a rearguard action for the bottom of the table club. As the Shrimps pushed for an equaliser, Campbell went close again from all of thirty yards after 83 minutes. But try as they might, the visitors had set themselves too high a mountain to climb and the men in white trailed off at the end of the game with yet another defeat against a team immediately around them. Fortunately for them, fellow-strugglers FGR and Chesterfield also lost today to slip back into the relegation positions in League Two, leaving the Shrimps in twentieth position. Against Coventry last week, the Shrimps looked too good to be relegated. If they play like they did in the first half today with exactly the same players though, their survival is anything but guaranteed.
Barnet: 1 Jamie Stephens; 4 Charlie Clough; 5 Ricardo Almeida Santos; 6 Michael Nelson (C); 7 Ryan Watson; 9 John Akinde (14 Simeon Akinola 86 mins); 10 Jamal Campbell-Ryce; 11 Shaquile Coulthirst (Y); 12 Jack Taylor; 20 Mauro Vilhete (26 Dan Sweeney 54 mins); 24 Andre Blackman.
Subs Not Used: 21 Craig Ross; 2 Richard Brindley; 13 David Tutonda; 18 Wesley Fonguck; 23 Alex Nicholls.
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 2 Aaron McGowan; 22 Max Muller (Y); 5 Steven Old; 3 Patrick Brough; 24 Michael Rose (C); 21 Elliot Osborne (11 Kevin Ellison 45 mins); 8 Andy Fleming; 9 Vadaine Oliver; 28 Adam McGurk (29 Callum Lang 45 mins); 7 Garry Thompson (10 Adam Campbell 69 mins).
Subs Not Used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 17 Mitchell Lund; 4 Alex Kenyon; 16 Sam Lavelle.
Ref: Dean Whitestone.
1123 (74 from Morecambe)
words Roger Fitton, D3D4 Morecambe Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Rotherham United 1-1 Plymouth Argyle
Relegation threatened Argyle were the latest visitors to NYS on a freezing cold South Yorkshire afternoon.
The Millers were the first to threaten when a neat move saw forward David Ball set up a shooting chance for loanee midfielder Richie Towell but unfortunately for him his 25 yard effort cleared the bar. Midfielder Will Vaulks was next to threaten when his effort from distance was comfortably saved by Kelle Roos in the Plymouth goal. Roos excelled again on 21 minutes when a lay off from forward Jerry Yates put Australian winger Ryan Williams through on goal but his effort was superbly kept out by the Argyle keeper. Rotherham were continually making chances at this point & Roos was called into action again to keep out a goalbound effort from Millers left back Mattock. Diagouraga headed over from a Graham Carey free kick in Argyle’s first attack of any note before Argyle’s Edwards blocked a goalbound Ball effort. despite having the majority of the ball & all the chances, the score remained goalless at the break much to the Millers dismay.
HT Millers 0 Argyle 0
Argyle boss Derek Adams must have seen something he didn’t like at HT as he sent his team out early for the second half waiting for the Millers players to take the field.
Following the break, Plymouth started brightly and Rotherham’s hopes of victory took a severe dent when Wood was sent for an early bath, after hauling down Taylor on halfway- for his second booking of the afternoon.
The Millers needed to reshuffle their pack & were forced to sacrifice Striker Yates for club captain Frecklington.
Argyle upped their game in the second half & sub Lionel Ainsworth stung the palms of Millers keeper Rodak & were growing in their task even more when Rotherham CB Richard Wood received his Red card for an innocuous challenge on Argyles Taylor.
Plymouth immediately smelled blood & went on the offensive but their efforts seemed in vain until following a spell of four corners, Graham Carey’s delivery was met perfectly at the near post by ex Miller Ryan Taylor who’s header beat Rodak to give Argyle the lead on 81 minutes.
As you would expect Rotherham threw caution to the wind at this point & were finally rewarded in the 3rd of 5 minutes of stoppage time when CB Semi Ajayi bundled the ball home after Williams effort was cleared off the line .
FT Millers1 Argyle 1
It would have been a travesty if Rotherham had lost this one as they were the only team in the first half who wanted to win the game & they defended manfully when the need arose in the second half.
PS; The 400+ Argyle fans there with us today gave their team encouragement throughout
words Ian Bradley, D3D4 Rotherham United Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Doncaster Rovers 1-1 Oldham Athletic
On a chilly afternoon at the Keepmoat stadium, Oldham and Doncaster cancelled each other out after both sides struggled to take charge of the game.
Oldham showed some promise early on with some neat passing and after just 5 minutes Nepomuceno fired over from 25 yards. John Marquis saw 2 shots go just wide of Johny Placide’s goal not long after. These early chances summed up the game quite well – both sides were trying to play football but it just never seemed to fall right for either side. The best chance of the half fell to Oldham’s Curaçaoan winger Gevaro Nepomuceno – after Tope Obadeyi raced 50 yards with the ball and laid the ball to Neopomuceno who managed to beat the keeper but was denied by the miraculous defending of Andy Butler who cleared off the line. Just moments later, Alfie May had a great chance to put the hosts in front. The striker got in behind the Latics defence but was denied by the cat-like reflexes of Johny Placide – the Haitian sensation was once again at his finest. The 0-0 at half time reflected the football that had been on display, it had been a scrappy game.
The second half emulated what had been seen in the first half, with neither side really managing to dictate play. After a series of freekicks, Doncaster finally broke the deadlock on the hour mark – Tommy Rowe’s set piece found Andy Butler in the box who hit his header off the cross bar and in. This led to ex-Rovers player Richie Wellens making his first changes of the game – bringing Aaron Amadi-Holloway and Ryan McLaughlin into the game, the Northern Irishman making his league return after being out for several weeks with injury. This brought some energy to the Latics but they continued to struggle break through a stubborn Doncaster defence. Craig Davies was eventually brought on as Oldham changed to a 3-4-3 formation and threw the proverbial kitchen sink at it. Wellens was rewarded for his tactical bravery when Eoin Doyle stabbed home from close range in the 88th minute – Dan Gardner’s cross was met by Holloway who flicked on to Doyle to finish. The Irishman will have been pleased to return to scoring ways, following an unusual dry spell of 3 games. Just moments later, Davies almost grabbed the win for the away side when he curled into the top corner but the referees whistle blew. He was adjudged to have fouled the defender. A series of corners for the home side wasn’t enough to find a winner and the game finished 1-1.
This was, all things considered, a good point on the road for Latics who have still only lost 2 games under Richie Wellens. It’s also another late goal for the Latics which has been come a regular feature this season. Doncaster fans will be concerned to have conceded another late goal but will likely feel that, given the events of the match, a draw was a fair result.
FULL TIME: Doncaster Rovers (Butler 60’) 1-1 Oldham Athletic (Doyle 88’)
Doncaster Rovers: Lawlor, Butler, Mason, Marquis, Rowe, Whiteman (Kongolo 77’), Wright, Houghton, May (Mandeville 69’), Garratt (Baudry 82’), Beestin.
Subs not used: Marosi, Ben Khemis, Longbottom, Amos.
Oldham Athletic: Placide, Wilson, Bryan, Gerrard, Hunt (McLaughlin 62’), Fane, Gardner, Nepomuceno (Davies 62’), Byrne, Obadeyi (Holloway 74’), Doyle.
Subs not used: Wilson, Clarke, Green, Flynn.
Referee: Gavin Ward
Attendance: 7,831 (851 visiting supporters)
words Chris Stringer, D3D4 Oldham Athletic Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Scunthorpe United 2-2 MK Dons
If you listened to the FA Cup round up on the D3D4 Podcast then you’ll know that Scunthorpe recently got knocked out to Doncaster following an awful performance consisting of a catalogue of errors. On the Tuesday that followed this game the Iron lost 1-2 to a Leicester Under 23 side in the Checkatrade Trophy, and regardless of what you think of that competition it does provide an opportunity to go to Wembley and generate some extra revenue for the club. Last Saturday’s return to league football also saw a loss when Walsall ended up with a 1-0 victory. These results alongside some rather unfortunate comments made by the Chairman when given the chance to dispel rumours of him leaving for Blackpool has led to a pretty turbulent time amongst Iron fans this week. A number of fan articles have questioned ability, unorthodox tactics and style of football offered. All in all it was rather important that Scunthorpe got a positive result from the game against MK Dons.
For the first 20 minutes it was all MK Dons. The away side had the majority of the possession and created a number of very effective moves that were able to beat a makeshift Iron defence, they just lacked the critical edge with their finishing. The first goal came very much against the run of play. Duane Holmes’ ball across the box was met by Adelakun who put the ball under the keeper and into the net making it 1-0 to Scunthorpe. MK Dons retained the pressure for the rest of the half where a number of incidents took place just before the break. On the 42nd minute came the equaliser. A great run from Agard saw him beat a number of players and score himself from a resulting 1:2 pass. A much deserved equaliser, though it didn’t last long. Only a minute later the Iron found themselves back in front when a shot from Holmes was initially saved but Kevin Van Veen was there to score the rebound. 2-1 to Scunthorpe but the half wasn’t finished there. In stoppage time Scunthorpe’s Neal Bishop would find himself given a red card when he elbowed the chest of Chucks Aneke.
HT: Scunthorpe United 2-1 MK Dons
Both Holmes and Van Veen made way at the start of the second half in order for the Iron to go more defensive as a result of the sending off. As expected MK Dons kept control of the game and if it wasn’t for Matt Gilks in the Scunthorpe goal who made a series of excellent saves, and earnt himself the man of the match award for it, then the away side could quite easily have won this match by 4 or 5. The ref awarded the Dons a free kick just outside the box on the 66th minute, before changing his mind and giving a spot kick and then changing his mind once again and reverting to the original decision of the free kick. Upson’s ball into the box was met by Aneke who headed in. There was a slight moment of confusion as to if the ball crossed the line or not, but the ref didn’t hesitate in awarding the goal. Though this decision looked correct, a point about the ref does need to be made. Both managers have since expressed their discontent at his performance. A number of clear, and big, decisions for both sides were not given. He never looked like he had control of the game and was inconsistent throughout. Certainly one of the weakest performances from the officials we’ve seen at Glanford Park this season.
2-2 is how this one finished. MK Dons looked a much better side than their current league position suggests however, if they were more clinical they would have easily come away with all three points. As for the Iron, given the circumstances a point here is probably a good result. However, despite scoring 2 in the first half before the red, they weren’t exactly encouraging in their performance. Still 5th currently but with a number of key players out through injury, and now suspension, it is going to be a rather difficult Christmas period.
FT: Scunthorpe United 2-2 MK Dons
words Bradley Mell, D3D4 Scunthorpe United Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Carlisle United 1-2 Port Vale
In midweek, it was a postponement for Carlisle in the FA Cup whilst Port Vale did play – and lost their replay.
These teams met early on last season in the EFL Cup and the Cumbrians came out on top at Brunton Park with a comfortable win.
With injuries and suspensions for Neil Aspin and Keith Curle’s respective teams, the game was never going to be a fascinating one.
Getting off to a slow start, it was Carlisle who had the most possession in the opening stages although Vale simply came to sit back and hit their opposition on the break. No real chances came for either side until near the halfway mark where the bar was struck twice by the Valiants as the Cumbrians began to be unsettled before the break. The first was when the tricky Ben Whitfield combined with the heavily influential Marcus Harness to whip in a cross for the dangerous Tom Pope to connect with by pushing veteran Clint Hill over and thus a foul was given once the woodwork was hit. The next was when Michal Tonge pulled off a strike after the ball dropped down from a corner and goalkeeper Jack Bonham got a touch on it with his body to alter the course of the strike and the bar to be hit once again. It was evident that both the long ball tactic to Richie Bennett from the home side and the sit back mentality from the away side weren’t working so at the interval things had to change.
When the darkness came in the freezing cold afternoon, it seemed to be a bit of pathetic fallacy for Carlisle as they slumped. Passing it around the back – clearly possessing both the ball and nerves – it was the usually reliable Hill that played a dangerous ball to the deep-lying Mike Jones down the middle, which was quickly intercepted from behind via a tackle by the advancing David Worrall for the ball to fall straight to the unmarked substitute Tyron Barnett on the edge of the box. With one swift strike, the ball beat the charging Bonham and was fired in the net to the home crowd’s dismay.
Things went from bad to worse soon after as Vale broke and Worrall beat Gary Liddle through the in the centre-circle to slip in the bounding Pope as left-back for this clash Tom Parkes was too far up the pitch to keep with his man and Hill was bypassed by the through ball. All captain Pope had to do was pick up the ball before clipping the ball over Bonham as it landed between the posts. The away crowd was in jubilation but their counterparts were furious and the pressure was on Curle as Aspin and his men tried to hold on to what they had. The woodwork was hit this time for the Cumbrians as frustrating forward and target man Richie Bennett headed into the boat prior to Hallam Hope and substitute Shaun Miller not being able to finish. Out with injury as of late, skipper Danny Grainger came on to make an impact. His effort from a free-kick was well saved by Ryan Boot leading to a corner which the club-captain took. The ball was met by Hope who’s headed hit Hill and fell into the path of Bennett to smash home for a consolation. A chance came on the edge of the box for Reggie Lambe but Valiant (in both meanings of the word) Boot saved again. All was over after that and the whistle blew to end of the match.
It’s certainly pressure point for Curle in arguably his most important period on a personal level since he arrived. On the other hand, as manager of a side clawing their way out of trouble, the relatively new to the club Aspin will have huge confidence from a grafting away win.
Attendance: 4,090 (214)
Carlisle – Bennett 80’
Port Vale – Barnett 50’ Pope 69’
words Nathan Ridley, D3D4 Carlisle United Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 Chesterfield
Quality O’Nein strike seals the points for Chairboys
An outstanding individual effort from Luke O’Nein in the second half sent Wycombe soaring to 4th place in the table and a cold afternoon at Adams Park.
It was the actually the team from North Derbyshire, who had the better of the opening exchanges and were clearly confident off the back of an unbeaten run stretching back to November in the league.
As comfortable as they were in possession, the spirities lacked any cutting edge. Craig Mackail-Smith has the first clear cut opening but his snap shot was straight at the visiting keeper and cleared to safety.
Wanderers were struggling to find rhythm during the first period but looked dangerous on the break. With the first half drawing to a close, the blues won a free kick 25 yards from goal.
Sam Saunders stepped up and struck a beautiful strike which beat Dawson all ends up. Unfortunately for Wycombe it crashed against the post and cleared to safety.
The half time team talk from Gareth Ainsworth clearly worked as Wycombe came out looking fired up.
In the 55th minute Sido Jombati was deep into Chesterfield territory when he found O’Nein, who turned beautifully and struck an unstoppable shot into the bottom left corner from all of 20 yards.
The second half followed a similar theme with Wycombe counter attacking on a regular basis. Paris Cowan-Hall has a penalty claim turned away for a questionable offside.
6 minutes of injury time ensued at the end of the game, in which Wanderers negotiated with relative ease to cement their place in the playoff picture.
Man of the match: Adam El Abd
words Scott MacDonald, D3D4 Wycombe Wanderers Correspondent