The D3D4 Correspondents give you their take on the weekend’s action in League One and Two. Hope you enjoy and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
MATCH REPORT: Coventry City 3-2 Wycombe Wanderers
Met my football mates in the pub and after some festive beer we made our way to the Ricoh Arena to watch the Sky Blues take on the Chairboys from Wycombe. The reason for the switch to Friday night from the Saturday is because Wasps are playing Gloucester in a rugby match. That fixture will attract 28,000 spectators compared to the lowly 7,234 that turned up at the Ricoh last night, but us that did attend were treated to a thrilling five goal match.
The City took the lead through a 13th minute 40 yard cracker from skipper Michael Doyle who caught the Wycombe keeper off his line, and surely a candidate for goal of the season. And the home side played some decent football and put the pressure on the visitors defence, and it was no surprise when they went two up in the 41st minute through Marc McNulty who has started to find some form and the back of the net. But just as we rose from our seats to go and get some half-time refreshments the visitors banged in a goal from Dan Scarr just as the ref was contemplating blowing his whistle. That late goal raised the Wycombe team as they started the second half on the front foot and levelled the score through a penalty by Jacobson on 49 minutes.
The huge and powerful Akinfenwa was always a threat but the tactic of limiting the ball at his feet by the Sky Blues was working out well, but every time he does get on the ball he must be a nightmare to defend against?
The match was entertaining and was swinging to and fro but the City took the lead in the 55th minute through another spot kick converted by McNulty making a well deserved double for the hard working striker.
The Chairboys weren’t done though and really went for the equaliser but the home side held on and took all three points. This win has lifted us into 4th place in League Two and begins the busy Christmas period on a positive note, and hopefully the Sky Blues can bring us long suffering fans some much needed festive cheer.
The January sales are approaching and hopefully Mark Robins can bring in some quality players to strengthen the squad ? Carl Baker an ex City player is currently training with the club in the hope of getting a contract, but he is suffering with an Achilles injury which could hamper him being signed by Robins. I rated Baker and I hope he does get fit and returns as he can add some experience and skill to the team. So up next is a Boxing Day fixture away to Port Vale, and another three points?
It’s nice to be positive!
words Kevin Halls, D3D4 Coventry City Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Barnet 0-2 Cheltenham Town
Cheltenham Town won away from home for the first time since September as goals from Irish pair Kevin Dawson and Carl Winchester helped them to a first ever league victory at Barnet.
Gary Johnson’s side dominated the first half from start to finish and after some near misses from Mo Eisa and Nigel Atangana, two goals in five minutes courtesy of Dawson and Winchester gave them a comfortable lead at the interval.
Barnet improved during the second half after Simeon Akinola was introduced at the break but a solid defensive display ensured that the Robins left the Hive buzzing with three points.
The Robins started brightly as Mo Eisa won a corner after hitting a deflected half-volley onto the roof of the net but Jamie Grimes’ header was comfortably held by Jamie Stevens.
Another Cheltenham corner was then headed goal-bound by Jamie Grimes but Andre Blackman blocked it on the line before Eisa blazed a close range effort over the top.
Nigel Atangana then released Eisa who cut inside and drove into the penalty area but was crowded out by the home defence, Atangana then decided to take aim himself, whistling a long range effort just over the crossbar as Gary Johnson’s side continued to dominate after 15 minutes.
Mark McGhee’s Bee’s were under serious pressure and when goalkeeper Stevens sliced a clearance and then caught it, Cheltenham were awarded a free-kick just inside the penalty box but Kevin Dawson’s shot was blocked behind.
But that pressure soon paid off as great exchange play between Joe Morrell and Mo Eisa allowed the latter to cross for Kevin Dawson to slide into an empty net for his sixth goal of the season.
Five minutes later the away fans were on their feet again as Carl Winchester netted his fourth league goal of the current campaign.
The Northern Irishman danced his way into the six yard box and after initially losing control of the ball, he regained possession and coolly lifted the ball into the top corner to double Cheltenham’s lead after 37 minutes.
John Akinde finally managed an attempt on goal for the hosts, heading wide following a corner just before half-time in a 45 minutes totally controlled by Cheltenham Town.
As the match approached the hour mark a rare break from Barnet saw them break through two on two mark but Shaquile Coulthirst’s shot was blocked by Jamie Grimes, who was having a fantastic game at the heart of the Robins’ defence.
A neat piece of play involving Akinde and Richard Brindley lead to a dangerous cross from the full-back but nobody was on the end of it, as McGhee’s team undoubtedly enjoyed their best, albeit brief spell.
Ryan Watson then dragged a shot wide as the hosts tried to break down Cheltenham’s stubborn defence before the visitors threatened three times in quick succession.
After near misses from Kevin Dawson and Harry Pell, Will Boyle rose highest to meet a corner but his powerful header dropped inches wide as Cheltenham sought to make their dominance count with a third goal.
But the two goals were enough for Cheltenham, who held on to send the travelling 198 fans home with plenty of Christmas cheer.
words Luke Saunders, D3D4 Cheltenham Town Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Mansfield Town 2-1 Morecambe
Roses for Xmas? Not for Big Jim…
Morecambe visited tenth in the table Mansfield today hoping to tip the balance against the Derbyshire club as far as previous encounters are concerned. So far, this had been completely even with both sides having won four of the eight fixtures which preceded this one. Before the game, just two points separated rock bottom club Forest Green Rovers and the Shrimps, who were a mere four places above them in League Two. Nobody wants to be sitting at the bottom of the EFL pile at Christmas if only because of all the superstition and actual facts which attend being relegated after this unwanted distinction at this time of the year. But results elsewhere could see Morecambe propping-up everybody else if they failed to get at least a draw against Steve Evans’ men today.
Manager Jim Bentley made four changes to the starting lineup which played so poorly against Barnet last week during the first half. The loss in this game could prove to be pivotal to both clubs’ chances of survival in the Football League next June. Patrick Brough, Adam McGurk, Andy Fleming and Garry Thompson were all dropped to be replaced by Sam Lavelle, Alex Kenyon, Callum Lang and Adam Campbell. For the opposition, their Scottish Manager also introduced four changes into the team which drew 0-0 with Yeovil Town last time out.
Morecambe had the first chance of the game when Adam Campbell took a shot from about twenty yards out which was blocked by Malvind Benning only for the Shrimps’ player to scuff the rebound wide of the target. This was after three minutes. With just three more minutes on the clock, Campbell then wove his way down the right wing and played-in Luke Conlan whose shot was very well saved by Conrad Logan in the Stags’ goal. But almost immediately after this, Mansfield took the lead. Returnee Kane Hemmings controlled the ball well from Danny Rose’s flick, turned inside marker Sam Lavelle and placed a well-aimed shot past Barry Roche into the Shrimps’ net with eight minutes played.
The diminutive Campbell was instrumental again in Morecambe’s first attempt to equalise, rolling the ball to Kenyon whose long-range shot went over the bar after almost a quarter of an hour. Twenty-one minutes had elapsed whenVadaine Oliver set himself up for a long-range volley but made a mess of his effort, allowing the Stags to clear. The home team had an excellent chance to extend their lead after twenty-six minutes when Danny Rose pounced on a defensive mistake and fed the ball to Hemmings who in turn squared it to CJ Hamilton to side-foot the ball wide from just eight yards out when it was probably easier to at least hit the target.
Logan was the next goalkeeper to be called into action though when he initially struggled to deal with an acrobatic cross from Oliver after 33 minutes before finally gratefully gathering the ball at his far post. The match remained fairly even after that but Mansfield returned to the dressing rooms at half time a goal to the good and with the final chance of the game in their favour. After 41 minutes, MacDonald’s free-kick reached Zander Diamond as the static Shrimps defence looked on. Fortunately for them, the Stags’ man plonked his free header wide of the goal.
Morecambe started the second half on the front foot and Michael Rose only narrowly missed with a shot from outside the box within the first minute. Three minutes later, Oliver flicked the ball on for Callum Lang but the young striker was caught off-side. But he got his team’s just deserts with fifty-one minutes on the clock when he darted into the Stags’ box and belted a tremendous shot from Aaron McGowan’s cross low past Logan into the bottom corner of the net to equalise for the Shrimps.
As the visitors continued to dominate play and Rhys Bennett did well to clear the ball for a corner before it reached a goal-bound Oliver, Manager Evans decided to shuffle his pack after 54 minutes. The double change had little initial effect however and Morecambe came close to taking the lead when Michael Rose again narrowly missed Logan’s left-hand post with a characteristic piledriver from 25 yards after an hour. They came even closer after 66 minutes when another screamer from Campbell this time beat Logan all ends up but crashed harmlessly back off his post. Michael Rose then unleashed another tremendous shot which again only just missed after 73 minutes only for Stags’ substitute Jacob Mellis to try his luck from a similar distance at the other end with an identical result just two minutes later. But Morecambe continued to look for a winner and Campbell headed straight at Logan from Luke Conlan’s cross after 76 minutes when he might have hoped to do a bit better. There were further half chances at both ends after this but the nearest either team came to a break-through was in the eighty-third minute when substitute Kevin Ellison volleyed fellow sub Adam McGurk’s cross goalwards only to provoke a superb block from Diamond to keep the game level. Kev then did what he also does by reacting to assistant manager Paul Raynor’s constant shouting from the side lines and getting himself booked.
Morecambe hearts were broken however when – having battered the home team for all of the second half – they fell behind to a sucker punch right at the death. Mellis won a free kick on the Mansfield left after 88 minutes; Paul Anderson floated the ball over and with the Shrimps defence again Absent Without Leave, Danny Rose wrapped-up all three points for the home team with an unchallenged header past Roche in the visitors’ goal. Morecambe tried their best to retrieve a losing situation even after this last-minute disappointment and might have done so had not Malind Benning cleared a header which had beaten his own keeper off the line in extra time. Barry Roche came up from the other goal to reach the ball before anyone else even after this but his opposite number managed to save his effort with four minutes of extra time already played. Baz had just been booked for pushing-over Danny Rose who had been yellow-carded himself for an obvious dive in the big Dubliner’s penalty area a few moments earlier. But sometimes, you just don’t get what you deserve and today was such an occasion for the Shrimps and their frustrated supporters.
Season’s Greetings were not exchanged at the end of the game when Evans lived-down to his reputation as a loud-mouthed wind-up merchant by gloating at the visitors’ misfortune. This was not appreciated by the Morecambe bench – and who can blame them? Even ignoring the idiotic behaviour by the other management team, Jim Bentley must feel either murderous or suicidal – or perhaps both – at times like these. His team had most of the possession during the whole of this game and could – and probably should – have taken home all three points. But momentary lapses of concentration at the back have yet again cost his team any return for their never-say-die performance. They will play worse than this and win in the coming months. The only solace the team from Lancashire can take from today is that key rivals Barnet, FGR, Crewe and Chesterfield also all lost, the latter badly in a 5-1 mauling at Stevenage. So Morecambe will spend Xmas two places above the relegation positions in twenty-first place.
Good luck to Jim Bentley and his men in the New Year although they must be already sick of the sight of at least one version of Roses before the festivities actually start. I might eat a few though. And I hope that whatever you do over Christmas is more enjoyable than what happened at Field Mill today as far as Morecambe fans at least are concerned.
Mansfield Town: 1 Conrad Logan; 16 Hayden White (Y); 2 Rhys Bennett; 6 Zander Diamond (C); 3 Malind Benning; 7 Alex MacDonald; 24 Calum Butcher (8 Jacob Mellis 54 mins); 4 Paul Digby (11 Will Atkinson 70 mins); 22 CJ Hamilton (Y); 32 Danny Rose (Y); 23 Kane Hemmings (10 Paul Anderson 54 mins).
Subs not used: 12 Bobby Olejnik; 5 Krystian Pearce; 9 Lee Angol; 15 Jimmy Spencer.
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche (Y); 2 Aaron McGowan; 22 Max Muller; 5 Steven Old; 16 Sam Lavelle; 24 Michael Rose (C); 4 Alex Kenyon; 14 Luke Conlan; 9 Vadaine Oliver (28 Adam McGurk 72 mins); 29 Callum Lang (11 Kevin Ellison (Y) 72 mins); 10 Adam Campbell (7 Garry Thompson 81 mins).
Subs Not Used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 17 Mitchell Lund; 8 Andy Fleming; 21 Elliot Osborne.
Ref: Ross Joyce
3058 (63 from Morecambe)
words Roger Fitton, D3D4 Morecambe Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Plymouth Argyle 4-1 Oldham Athletic
The first half left the travel-weary Oldham fans heartbroken when after just 6 minutes Argyle found themselves 2-0 up. Poor defending gave space to Graham Carey – a nice ball to Diagouraga put the Frenchman in a good position to round Johny Placide and gave the green army the lead after just 3 minutes , despite calls of offside. Just 3 minutes later Carey once again found space in the box and he showed his skill when he managed to lob the ball over Placide. The first half saw the home side dominate possession and create a lot of chances, going close on several occasions – Carey was causing the Latics defence a lot of trouble and had an attempt cleared off the line. The Oldham side could have no complaints with the score line come half time.
Latics stared the 2nd half better, but their passing still let them down and it was clear they missed Kean Bryan and Eoin Doyle in the spine of their team. There was a lack of attacking impetus for Oldham. Some hope came when skipper Anthony Gerrard got on the end of a Jack Byrne’s corner after 57 minutes and it felt as if the visitors might have some fight in them. However, just 2 minutes later, Carey whipped a free kick in from 35 yards and Edwards put the Pilgrims 2 goals ahead once again. Both Davies and Holloway had close-range chances to bring the Latics back into the game but when Jervis bagged the 4th for Plymouth after 72 minutes (with his first touch after coming on as a sub) it was game over; what fight the Oldham side had shown was gone and Plymouth comfortably saw the game. The 289 fans from Oldham endure a round trip nearing 600 miles and leave Home Park feeling less than festive, perhaps some of the Christmas brandy will help them forget this one. Plymouth, meanwhile, are out of the bottom 4 and their fans will go home pleased after a confident performance.
FULL TIME: Plymouth Argyle (Diagouraga 3’, Carey 6’, Edwards 59’, Jervis 73’) 4-1 Oldham Athletic (Gerrard 57’)
Plymouth Argyle: Roos, Sawyer, Songo’o, Edwards, Carey (Grant 78’), Lameiras (Jervis 71’), Bradley, Threlkeld, Taylor, Fox (Sangster 89’), Diagouraga.
Subs not used: Miller, Ainsworth, Wylde, Cooper.
Oldham Athletic: Placide, Dummigan, Wilson, Gerrard, Fane (Hunt 46’), Gardner, Flynn, Nepomuceno (Obadeyi 66’), McLaughlin (Holloway 46’), Byrne, Davies.
Subs not used: Wilson, Clarke, Green.
Referee: Lee Collins
Attendance: 10,017 (289 visiting supporters)
words Chris Stringer, D3D4 Oldham Athletic Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Rotherham United 2-1 MK Dons
Mid table Millers hosted lower mid table MK on a cool crisp December afternoon at NYS this afternoon. Rotherham started in the ascendancy & striker David Ball warmed the hands of MK Keeper Lee Nichols with a header from an Antony Forde cross. It was MK however who broke the deadlock after only six minutes, midfielder Chuks Aneke expertly curling a 25 yard free kick beyond Rodak in the Millers goal.
Buoyed by the goal, MK almost doubled their advantage when midfielder Ed Upson was allowed to stroll through the Millers back four unhindered & produce a shot that was tipped over the bar by Rodak.
Rotherham continued to press however & they were level on the 20 minute mark, forward Jerry Yates hooked the ball goalwards & keeper Nicholls seemed put off by the prescence of Ajayi & the ball rolled slowly over the line.
Rotherham poured forward after the equaliser & after Ajayi & Ball went close, Rotherham deservedly gained the lead with a fine 25 yard half volley from midfielder turned centre back for the day Will Vaulks. Rotherham saw the rest of the first half out in control.
HT Rotherham 2 Milton Keynes 1
The Millers almost scored a third goal moments into the second half when Yates met a Ryan Williams cross but MK keeper Nichols produced a magnificent save to keep the lead at a single goal.
Rotherham continued to dominate, going close through Forde, Yates, Frecklington & Ball while Nichols continued to excel with superb saves from Forde, Vaulks & a worldie from Millers sub Jonnson Clarke-Harris. Seven minutes of added time failed to produce even a hint of an MK chance & a deserved home win was a fair result.
FT Rotherham 2 Milton Keynes 1
words Ian Bradley, D3D4 Rotherham United Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Scunthorpe United 3-1 Southend United
The return of both Conor Townsend and Funso Ojo from injury would prove key to Scunthorpe’s victory over Southend. Both players afforded the Iron an early attacking intensity that has been absent in recent performances, with early chances falling to Hopper and Van Veen, neither being clinical enough to give the Iron the lead. 25 minutes in and Southend went ahead very much against the run of play. A 25 yard strike from Jason Demetriou took a deflection against Iron defender Cameron Burgess and beat Gilks to give the away side the lead.
Scunthorpe hit back less than 10 minutes later. Josh Morris’ ball in from the right was met with a bit of a goalmouth scramble but the ball was eventually turned in by Iron striker Kevin Van Veen. Going into the break one down wouldn’t have been a fair reflection of the half so the equaliser was welcomed, however, the Iron would have been wondering how they weren’t 3 or 4 up at that point.
At the start of the second half Southend grew into the game a little and for the first 10 or 15 minutes this was the period of the match where they looked the most dangerous, though nothing they did troubled Gilks too much. From a Scunthorpe attack It looked certain that Hopper would beat the Shrimpers’ halftime substitute keeper Bishop, who was brought on as a result of a first half injury to Mark Oxley, but an excellent challenge from a Southend defender saw the ball go out for a corner. It was this corner that would give the Iron the lead for the first time in the game. Southend were caught napping as Adelakun took the corner quickly and rolled the ball along the ground to Townsend who was able to strike the ball into the opposite corner of the net.
The third and final goal for Scunthorpe also came from a corner. In the 86th minute Adelakun again crossed the ball into the box where this time the Shrimpers’ defender Michael Turner mishit his attempted clearance and ended up striking into the net against his own keeper.
3-1 was the final score and this combined with a convincing performance, though one where they should have been more clinical against a poor Southend side, will give Scunthorpe some much needed confidence as they head into the Boxing Day fixture away at Blackpool, who traditionally have been a bogey side for the Iron.
FT: Scunthorpe United 3-1 Southend United
words Bradley Mell, D3D4 Scunthorpe United Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Newport County 0-0 Lincoln city
Rodney Parade, Sat 23rd December 2017, Attendance 3,514 (483 Away Fans)
At the end of last season Lincoln City were on a high, having won promotion back to the EFL and having got to the quarter finals of the FA Cup. Their success was undoubtedly going to give the Imps momentum in their first season back in the League. At the same time, Newport County had pulled off a minor miracle in remaining in the Football League, maintaining promotion form in their final 12 games after struggling earlier in the season. This game fell at the halfway stage of the season and promised to be a test of the progress that both sides have made this year.
Neither side dominated the early exchanges but, shortly after kick-off, County were forced into a change as Ben Tozer was replaced by Scott Bennett. County midfielder Tozer had been holding his back after overstretching for a header and then went off after another knock on 8 minutes. The game was uneventful until a slip by County defender Demetriou on 28 minutes offered City forward Matt Rhead an opportunity that was eventually snuffed out by the County defence. At the other end a Cruyff style turn and pass by Nouble found McCoulsky who sent his shot narrowly wide of Vickers’ goal. On 35 minutes County defender O’Brien gave away a free kick on the edge of the box. Rhead signalled a clear intention to be ready for any rebound but County stopper Day gathered the weak Habergham effort without issue. On 39 minutes County midfielder Labadie was booked by Referee Brett Huxtable for simulation after going down easily to a number of earlier challenges. Big City defender Raggett was also booked for what appeared to be dissent. The end of the half saw an opportunity for City forward Arnold well saved by Day.
After the restart Day was once again called into action making a fine save from an agile Waterfall header. A key moment in the game occurred on 53 minutes as County central defender Mark O’Brien was sent off a foul that looked every bit like a regulation booking. Matt Green’s pace had taken him away from O’Brien and O’Brien caught the City forward late with no threat to goal. The red card caused uproar amongst the County fans and players and it took some time for Referee Huxtable to gain control of the situation, the foul occurring very close to an area of the ground that had been closed off after a recent incident against Carlisle United. In sending off O’Brien, Huxtable had set a low threshold for infringements and proceeded to book City players Rhead, Bostwick and Waterfall for fouls that deserved no more than free kicks. After going down to 10 men County worked hard for each other, with the prominent Butler and Labadie pressing City. A Dolan free kick on 79 minutes narrowly cleared Vickers’ crossbar and another Waterfall header was saved by Day, as two well-matched teams cancelled each other out in an entertaining 0-0 draw.
Man of the Match – Dan Butler (Newport County) with a special mention to Danny Crowley who’s pre and post-match comments suggest he is an honest and thoughtful manager.
words Rob Wood, D3D4 Newport County Correspondent