D3D4 Correspondents give their take on the matches from game week 8 of the season in League One and Two…
MATCH REPORT: Blackpool 3-1 Oxford United
Oxford United were, like a peasant in the 18th Century, completely outclassed by Blackpool at Bloomfield Road. Pep Clotet’s men came into this one off the back of a sucker punch, two points dropped, home draw against Bradford in midweek and needed to be up for it against an inform Tangerines who had won 100% of their home matches this season.
Oxford clearly didn’t get the message and had probably their worst first half of football in the last three seasons. They were abject, awful and deserved to be behind to a Kyle Vassell goal after just 6 minutes. He struck a 25 yard beauty which gave the Oxford keeper, Eastwood, no chance, still he could have saved it for next week! The forward would give the Oxford back-line a torrid time all game long and he should have had a hat-trick and Blackpool should have been 5 or 6 with Sean Longstaff also missing a couple of chances.
There was something very wrong with the way the U’s were playing and Cooke double Blackpool’s lead on 15 minutes. Not to be out done by his team mate, Cooke decided to strike another unstoppable drive past Eastwood as it appeared the Blackpool team were holding their very own goal of the season competition as if to get it out of the way before winter. The home side play a high pressing, fast paced game and the Oxford players looked flustered and unable to cope. Their passing was woeful and they lacked even the most basic of communication skills. This was glaringly apparent when James Henry was tackled by his own player, Curtis Nelson, and Blackpool nearly had a third!
Oxford were relieved to get in at half time only 2 down as it could easily been worse but at least the sun was shining and the wonderful away following could at least watch the goals rain in without getting wet.
Oxford improved in the second half and James Henry did pull one back before he had to witness some rather shameless theatrics by the Blackpool keeper Allsop. Going for a fifty fifty ball the goal keeper gathered and as Henry pulled out of the challenge Allsop threw himself to the floor and preceded to do more rolls than you’d find on a Hovis delivery van.
There was still time for yet another Tangerines goal of the season contender as Vassell made it 3-1 with an excellent free kick to seal an brilliant home win for Blackpool and one that was thoroughly deserved. Gary Bowyer has transformed the team and can be very proud of how well he and his players have acclimatised to League One. It will be back to the drawing board for Oxford after a frustrating week for Pep Clotet and his team.
words James Richards, D3D4 Football
MATCH REPORT: Oldham Athletic 1-2 Shrewsbury Town
Unbeaten league leaders Shrewsbury travelled north to Boundary park today to take on an Oldham team that has seen 3 strong performances in recent games, including picking up their first 3 points on Tuesday in a thrilling 3-2 victory away at Bristol Rovers.
Both teams started sharply with chances at both ends but it was Salop who struck the net first. A cross from the right after an error from Nepomuceno saw Jack Ruddy fumble the ball and, despite Anthony Gerrard’s best efforts, on form striker Stefan Payne finished from close range in the 20th minute – seeing him continue his impressive scoring run that has seen him record the best goal to minute ration in the 92.
The forward, though, appeared to break his nose in the process and was substituted for Carlton Morris. This break in play allowed Latics to regroup and 14 minutes later Preston Loanee Eoin Doyle went close; pulling his shot across goal. Only a minute later, Curaçaoan winger Gevaro Nepomuceno played a lovely cross to Craig Davies who scored with a simple header at the near post – his 4th goal in as many games. Latics finished the half the more likely of the sides to score. 1-1 at the break.
Latics came out in the second half and started where they’d left off in the first half and really should have taken the lead. A smart ball from Craig Davies saw Doyle through on goal – the Irishman did the hard work by rounding the keeper but inexplicably managed to hit the post. Doyle saw a few more shots go close to goal whilst Davies went close with a header from a Jack Byrne corner in the 55th minute.
Despite the hard work from the Latics, Shrewsbury showed their quality and in the 65th minute, Rodman charged down a Peter Clarke clearance and played the ball to Nolan who calmly slotted the ball under Ruddy.
Despite continued attacks and a promising Jack Byrne freekick, it just didn’t click for the boys in blue and things went from bad to worse when Eoin Doyle received a second yellow card in injury time.
Another unfortunate result for Latics that could easily have gone the other way. Shrewsbury look good money for their position in the league and it’s only a matter of time before Oldham see some movement up the table.
FULL TIME: Oldham Athletic (Davies 35’) 1-2 Shrewsbury Town (Payne 20’, Nolan 65’)
Attendance: 4,150 (602 visiting supporters)
Man of the Match: Jack Byrne
Oldham Athletic: Ruddy, Edmundson (Menig 77’), Clarke, Gerrard, McLaughlin, Nepomuceno, Byrne, Gardner (Fane 75’), Bryan (Obadeyi 85’), Davies, Doyle.
Subs not used: Placide, Dummigan, Wilson, Holloway.
Shrewsbury Town: Henderson, Riley, Godfrey, Sadler, Whalley, Ogogo, Brown, Nolan, Nsiala, Rodman (Adams 90+3’), Payne (Morris 23’).
Subs not used: MacGillivray, Beckles, Dodds, Gnahoua, John-Lewis.
Referee: Ben Toner
words Chris Stringer, D3D4 Oldham Athletic Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Cambridge United 2-1 Coventry City
The Sky Blues came unstuck at Cambridge but were unlucky not to come away with at least a draw. The City especially in the second half really went at the home team, and attacked with pace and tested the U’s keeper with plenty of shots and he pulled off two excellent saves much to the frustration of the Sky Blues strikers.
But Coventry City need to show more fight in the first half of games, as Cambridge were much the better side in the opening 45 minutes, and were deservedly ahead 1-0 at the break. But once again Mark Robins must have given his players a much needed pep talk in the dressing room, or injected them with steroids, as they came out and got stuck in and started playing with gusto and confidence.
On loan striker Nazon scored the equaliser in the 54th minute, and the Sky Blues fans over a thousand strong were no doubt contemplating a now different game and coming away with all three points ?
But for all the away team pressure which consisted of ten corners, eighteen shots, with nine on target, the home side still managed to get the winning goal with fourteen minutes left to go. Yes it was an entertaining game, with both sides playing their part in a thrilling League Two match, but Coventry should of earned a share of the points at least.
But as we all know football is not always fair and just because a team has more possession and has more shots than the opposition as Coventry had, that means little as the most important statistic is what the scoreline is when the ref blows his whistle at the end of the game.
But the City if they can start matches with the same flair and commitment as they do in the second period of games, then the season could turn out to be a decent one. Only time will tell.
words Kevin Halls, D3D4 Coventry City Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Cambridge United 2-1 Coventry City
Goals from Cambridge United’s new strike partners Jabo Ibehre and Uche Ikpeazu, either side of a Duckens Nazon equaliser were enough to give the U’s an impressive victory on home soil against much fancied Coventry City, who will count themselves unlucky to have not salvaged at least a point from the match.
The opening exchanges were dominated by the away side, but United weathered an early storm, and took the lead in the 10th minute through Jabo Ibehre. The frontman netted his third of the season, and his second in as many matches, as he got up well to connect with an excellent delivery from Piero Mingoia from the right flank, and fired a header into the bottom corner past Lee Burge.
There wasn’t much else to shout about in the first half, for either side, with the only chances of note falling to the aforementioned Nazon, who couldn’t beat David Forde to level things up before the break, and also to Ibehre, who saw two chances go begging to double his side’s, and his own tally for the day.
After the break, it didn’t take the Sky Blues long to get into their stride, and it was that man Nazon who helped his side get back into the match on 54 minutes, when he timed a run into the box to perfection to get onto the end of a Peter Vincenti delivery to absolutely rocket home a shot, which beat Forde at his near post despite getting a strong hand on it, sending a 1200 strong away contingent into raptures.
The equaliser really livened the game up, and with both teams going all out in search of the win, chances began to fall at each end. First, it was the excellent Jodi Jones, whose low shot was deflected on two occasions, and tipped just wide of the target by Forde, who got down late to make an excellent save. It was then the turn of Coventry skipper Michael Doyle, who rifled a strike in after a cross was only half cleared by the U’s defence, but his effort was palmed away by ex-Portsmouth team mate and fellow 2016/17 champion David Forde, who was fast becoming a one man barrier between Coventry and all three points.
Then came the game’s winning goal, through yet more excellent wide play from Piero Mingoia and another strong header from a Cambridge striker. Uche Ikpeazu played an excellent pass to the left hand channel, which Mingoia managed to keep in, before beating his man to the byline and floating a delightful cross in towards Ikpeazu, which the colossal front man powered into the floor, and saw the ball bounce into the top corner past the outstretched arm of Burge to put the home side ahead. It would prove to be the defining moment of the match, and also Ikpeazu’s second winning goal at the Abbey Stadium – in front of a lively Newmarket Road End – in a row.
With the U’s taking the lead with little under quarter of an hour remaining, they had to turn their attention to defending what they had earned against a Coventry City onslaught. The first chance for Coventry to draw level for the second time fell to Maxime Biamou, who could only send his header wide, with the vast majority of the ground thinking he was bound to find the back of the net. The next talking point came through Jodi Jones, who drove in from the right hand side, and launched a curling effort from 25-yards which looked to be dropping in, but instead crashed off the crossbar with Forde beaten. The biggest chance, though, fell to Nazons in injury time, which Forde saved brilliantly to win his side the match. Michael Doyle picked up on a loose ball, and curled a cross into the area, which was headed down towards Nazon, whose first time shot into the floor bounced up, only for Forde to tip his effort over the bar, and out for a corner, which the U’s defended manfully, and held out for another win on home soil.
Cambridge boss Shaun Derry was delighted at full-time, and when questioned after the match, he suggested that it was his side’s best performance of the season to date, and there won’t be many U’s fans arguing with that after such an impressive victory. From the other dugout, Mark Robins expressed his disappointment at leaving match in which they created so many openings empty handed, by declaring the result to be ‘unjust’.
For Cambridge, it is yet another tough match up next, with a trip to pre-season favourites Mansfield Town as they looked to build on a productive week which yielded wins against Crewe and Coventry, and begin to make their new position in the play-offs more secure.
words Tom Walker D3D4 Cambridge United Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Bradford City 1-0 Rotherham United (Vincelot, 21)
Romain remains a key man for Bantams
A feisty Yorkshire Derby was played out between Bradford City and Rotherham United on Saturday with both teams content with their starts to the season. Blackburn Rovers managed to break the Bantams’ phenomenal unbeaten home league record which stretched back to March 2016, but Stuart McCall’s side bounced back with an emphatic 3-1 win against the Bristol Rovers in front of the sky cameras. Visitors Rotherham came into the game high on confidence after handing out a 5-1 demolition job against Walsall.
The hosts as expected, set the tempo from the first minute, forcing a few corners early on. McCall once again set up with Alex Gillead on the right wing and Nicky Law in an inverted role on the left in order to help out Jakes Reeves and Romain Vincelot in the middle of the park. Kieffer Moore and Jon Taylor managed to shake off knocks to get the go ahead for the Millers, the former in great goalscoring form and is a threat in the air.
On the 20 minute mark came the breakthrough, Adam Chicksen delivered a slightly over hit cross which ended up at the feet of opposite full back Tony McMahon who put a fantastic ball in for the unmarked Vincelot to nod in his third goal in as many games. The classy Frenchman once again demonstrating his aerial prowess despite not being the tallest player in the squad.
Shortly after the goal Rotherham got through, the aforementioned Taylor making a trademark run off the full back and behind the Bradford centre halves, using his pace to full effect. However, Bantams stopper Colin Doyle got down well to deny him first time round, the ball once again broke to Taylor who must’ve thought he’d scored when Matt Killgallon acrobatically cleared off the line. It was a simply outstanding piece of last-ditch defending which was rightfully met with vociferous applause around Valley Parade. Nicky Law, against his former club, did well at retrieving the ball in dangerous positions and starting attacks. Upon two occasions Dom Poleon was put through with just the keeper to beat but his touch let him down.
Rotherham were more in control in the second half as the game went on, aided somewhat by a deep line from the hosts. Moore’s influence grew and had a couple of opportunities but nothing clear cut. Credit has to go to Killgallon and Nat Knight-Percival for coping with 6ft 5 Moore, the latter has to be one of the best readers of the game and is superb in defending one on one situations. Paul Warne decided to throw on Johnson Clarke-Harris to partner Moore but to no avail as the Bantams defended stoutly to get a much needed clean sheet.
words Tom Love, D3D4 Bradford City Correspondent
MATCH RPEORT: Carlisle United 1-1 Barnet
As fans of Carlisle United began to truly turn on Keith Curle after successive away defeats, the Cumbrians had the chance to bring back some good spirits with a home tie against Barnet. The North London side came into the match with an up & down campaign already under their belts. There was certainly more pressure on the home side though, with time running out for Carlisle and Curle.
The match couldn’t have started any worse for United. Just 8 minutes in, Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro managed to win the ball after Mike Jones missed a header in the middle, the forward then clipped the ball over Mark Ellis’ head very skilfully. The striker then came one-on-one with goalkeeper Shamal George, who’d only been given his debut in midweek, as the ball bounced off the post and right into the path of the soon to be goalscorer, tapping it into the back of the net. The rain fell down on Curle and things looked as miserable as the weather. The team selection and formation was intriguing from the boss, with a 4-4-2 diamond and a lack of creative players coming into question for most of the dire first-half. It didn’t work well against the 3-5-2 of Barnet. Reggie Lambe came close twice but couldn’t get a shot at goal and strikers Hallam Hope & Shaun Miller couldn’t get a foot on the ball. The Bee’s were resilient and were due credit after a solid opening which shut out Carlisle well. Half-time fell and the home players came off to a plethora of boo’s.
The second-half was a similar story. Carlisle just could not get going and Barnet were finding it easy. Changes were needed for United and after a small portion of the half, target-man, Ritchie Bennett came on for Hope who was jeered off after a less then decent showing. Then, Nicky Adams entered to, again, ironic jeers as Kelvin Etuhu came off on his home debut. Jason Kennedy also came on for Lambe but still seems shaky after a number of months out. Those three substitutes changed the game by their natural style.
Barnet were able to capitalise on the Cumbrian pressure and countered numerous times. They weren’t able to finish despite some sharp play. John Akinde entered the field as he returned to the Barnet set-up for Shaquile Coulthirst. The forward, who had been linked to Carlisle in the summer, only had one chance and was injured in the process. With no substitutes remaining, the away side took their time in getting Coulthirst off and he had some fun with the Brunton Park faithful whilst Curle helped him off the pitch. The pressure then mounted and Carlisle needed something special to get a point; which they got. George carried the ball to almost the half-way line and launched a ball onto the foot Miller just inside the box. The nimble man took a magnificent touch and unbelievably, decided to go for a bicycle-kick which looped over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net, sending Brunton Park wild. From then, it was all Carlisle and Barnet’s goalkeeper Craig Ross was forced into some superb stops to keep his side level. Both teams came out with a point and it was, overall, a fair result.
Carlisle survived a slating from most connected with the club after pure magic from super Shaun. A low attendance was understandable as the blues sit low in the table but matches come thick and fast now for the League 2 sides; and the league could look very different very soon. Barnet on the other hand, will be happy with a draw to take with them back home.
words Nathan Ridley, D3D4 Carlisle United Correspondent
MATCH REPORT: Port Vale 1-1 Forest Green Rovers
Vale entered the match with Vale manager Michael Brown getting the vote of confidence from the board who explained no time scale or ultimatums had been given to Brown to halt a slide from 14th in League 1 to the bottom of League 2 in his tenure. Vale made a small number of changes going into a game which Brown had said he was confident Vale would take maximum points from and started the game with two forwards. It was the home side which started the brightest and they took the lead through top scorer Dan Turner after 21 mins and went close with a couple of other efforts, going into the half time break looking comfortable. Never ones to enjoy the easy life Vale started the second half meekly and Forest Green rightfully drew level through substitute Omar Bugiel. Further chances appeared for Forest Green including a looping freekick with around 10mins left on the board meant there could have been few complaints had they taken all 3 points. In the end neither side could convert and the game ended 1-1.
A true Jekyll and Hyde performance from the Vale which left fans very very upset that once again an opportunity to kick start the season had gone begging and the side was still bottom of the football league. Within 3 hours of the game ending rumours of a change of manager started to gather pace and statements appeared on Vale official feeds and owners twitter that Michael Brown had been removed from his position.
So what now-
Strong rumours confirmed eventually that previous Manager Micky Adams had been asked to join the board as a football consultant/ direct or football type roll. The owner has ruled out approaching clubs for any manager in a job currently unless they have applied for the position so an interesting few days is on the horizon. Fans opinions appear to be that the best two candidates are Vale legend and current Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth or experienced operator Steve Cotterill. I think the other opinion is pretty stone wall… Vale fans don’t want a third successive assistant manager given the rains! We will wait and see.
words Matt Holland, D3D4 Port Vale Correspondent