D3D4 Correspondents give their take on the matches in week 2 of the League One and Two season…
Rotherham United 5-0 Southend United
To the New York Stadium this afternoon as my club Rotherham United started their home programme with a game against Phil Brown’s Southend team, conquerors of title favourites Blackburn last weekend.
The Millers started on the front foot & should have gone in front after just 3 minutes, striker Jamie Proctor putting a free header wide. It didn’t take long however for Rotherham to take the lead, a fine passing move ending with Millers striker Kieffer Moore finishing well from a Ryan Williams ball. In the next minute Rotherham made it 2-0 when Moore again finished well after being put through by Proctor. By the 25th minute it was three, Millers midfielder Joe Newell netting with a fine effort from the edge of the box & it was 4 on the stroke of half time Moore completing his hat trick after being set up by Proctor again.
The second half failed to live up to the intensity of the first. Rotherham remained in total control of the game. The Millers Aussie midfielder Williams had already been denied by a good Oxley save in the Shrimpers goal when he scored Rotherham’s fifth goal on the hour with yet another Proctor assist. Rotherham sub David Ball was denied twice by Oxley & Southend forward Marc Antoine- Fortune summed their day up perfectly when he could only hit the post with the goal gaping in the last minute.
A fine performance by Rotherham against a surprisingly lethargic Southend side in front of a healthy 8004 crowd.
Words Ian Bradley, D3D4 Rotherham United Correspondent
Port Vale 2-3 Wycombe Wanderers
After a summer of rebuilding on the field and the club building bridges with the fans following some serious issues with the owner, it all looked to be moving in the right direction 3,000 season tickets sold, 3-1 away win at Crawley on the opening day and an air of optimism.. mostly undone inside 25mins at Vale park this Saturday.
Vale lining up with 2 forwards in a 4-4-2 formation started well for around 85 seconds before total disarray in the area allowed the known quantity that is Akinfenwa to walk into the area and head home pretty much unchallenged. Only a few minutes later it appeared defending was not top of the agenda for the Valiants when a strong run in from the left from Wycombe’s Cowen-Hill went unchallenged and a very good finish bending the ball into the far corner put the Vale 2-0 down after 12 mins. Vale never ones to do things by half measures then continued to try to stutter to life before the biggest man on the field then went unnoticed in the Vale box to head a flicked corner into the roof of the net from close range. 3-0 and the home support booed off their side at half time…and rightly so.
The second half went mostly by as a scrappy battle for the middle of the park for 40mins, before two Port Vale subs decided they would make a mark with young forward Dan Turner making it two goals in two games on 88mins and Bournemouth loanee Whitfield getting a goal 2 mins later. Too little too late for the Vale and to be fair Wycombe should be there or there abouts at the end of the year if they play like that every week.
For Vale manager Michael Brown its looks very much like groundhog day from last years relegation form, with the squad displaying little to no defensive organisation or evidence of a game plan. With an away visit to Chesterfield and a home derby with Crewe at Vale Park the next two games, failure to take 4 points from those fixtures will leave Michael Brown massively under pressure and the knives out for an appointment that already split the fan base when made.
Words Matt Holland, D3D4 Port Vale Correspondent
AFC Wimbledon 0-1 Shrewsbury Town
The performance level against Wimbledon was exceptional for me. Town should have been out of sight at half time and really it was maybe just a little lack of composure in front of goal that meant the game wasn’t sewn up at the break. Alex Rodman converted after eight minutes from wing partner Whalley’s excellent pin point cross after dogged work, by the once again excellent Jon Nolan in midfield. It was the least Salop deserved after an excellent start.
Wingers Whalley and Rodman had the bit between their teeth and watching them break at lightening speed was thrilling and I think privately Paul Hurst will be especially delighted with Alex Rodman’s start to this season. He wants the ball, he wants to create when he gets the ball and it certainly looks to me like a full, hard pre-season is paying dividends for him. Hurst has in the past questioned Whalley’s delivery from the opposite flank but I thought he was exceptional and the highlight was definitely the ball in for the goal.
Defensively the side look sound, as they should with five across the midfield, but the amount of times we threatened the Wombles goal especially in the first half tells me that Hurst has the balance right between offensive players and defensive players in the current set up.
Carlton Morris works so hard for the team it is tough playing as a lone striker, he will be taking a battering at times but I have no doubt the goals will come and as soon as he gets off the mark I think we will see him go on a run. The good thing so far is that we are creating chances unlike last season.
AFC Wimbledon (4-4-1-1):
Long; Fuller ©, Robinson, Oshilaja, Kennedy; Francomb, Parrett, Abdou (Egan, 73), Barcham (Kaja, 78); Appiah (Taylor 45); McDonald.
Subs not used: McDonnell (gk), Nightingale, Sibbick, Hartigan
Shrewsbury Town (4-5-1):
Henderson; Bolton, Nsiala, Sadler, Brown; Whalley, Ogogo ©, Nolan, Dodds (Adams, 82), Rodman (Ennis, 91); C Morris (John-Lewis, 71)
Subs not used: MacGillivray (gk), Gnahoua, Jules, Shelis
Words Ian Evans, D3D4 Shrewsbury Town Correspondent
Walsall 2-1 Oldham Athletic
In football, usually after Christmas and certainly as we enter the business end of a season, we get what’s called a relegation six pointer. As tension mounts at about the same time, we also get no-lose games, or even must-win ones.
Walsall had a similar thing on Saturday. A dare-not-cock-up match. It wasn’t just about the points or the performance. In many ways, they just needed everything to go right because so many people were expecting it to go wrong.
The main difference between this and other crucial games? Well, it was also our first home game of the season but a combination of two away defeats, a dire end to last season, the clubs inability to bring in a striker during the off-season, rumoured player discontent and the fans’ growing frustration with the board and manager meant anything other than something very special was going to take the near-toxic atmosphere to an altogether new level.
So the ‘knew it’ groans were deafening as an Oldham cross by McLaughlin just after the half hour found its way past everyone and trickled into the bottom corner. It was as predictable as it was pathetic but then, Walsall don’t do good first halves very often and after the break, and presumably after some harsh words from the manager, the second forty-five was much better entertainment with an early and deserved Edwards equaliser after a deflection (but we were owed two of them after Tuesday) and a late, late prodded winner by our best player, Oztumer, just when it seemed that we would come to regret a number of glaringly good opportunities.
Even then, it was almost spoiled by a late reply from Obadeyi but new home goalie, Gillespie, pulled off a save that seemed a long way from his play-off exploits of last season.
With dazzling home debuts by the new wing backs from Scotland and an assured display by Friday’s loanee Shaun Donnellan, there were a number of plus points but the squad still looks bereft of two or three quality additions (especially ‘up top’) if we are to mount any kind of challenge.
We also shouldn’t overlook that Oldham don’t do good first halves of seasons very often and were not the strongest opposition Walsall will face this season but three points were still most welcome.
Of course, one swift doesn’t make a summer and this might just be a temporary papering over the cracks and a brief respite before toxicity returns. But it’s a win and one Walsall dared not not get under the circumstances.
Also, it was a weekend when the club shop handled the peeling badge problem quickly and we’ve finally now got the same goal nets as everyone else in English football.
Maybe there’s hope yet.
Words Darren Young, D3D4 Walsall Correspondent
Colchester United 1-1 Stevenage
Colchester United and Stevenage Borough are both still looking for their first wins of the season as the two teams shared the spoils at the Weston Homes Community Stadium on Saturday.
Although it’s not a win, it is Colchester’s first point of the campaign and Mikael Mandron’s first goal (only his second ever scored in the league) in the blue and white stripes of The U’s. So, a step in the right direction.
The match itself was a fairly even one with Stevenage perhaps being the more disappointed team. Having said that, it was the home team with the first good chance. Attackers Drey Wright and Mandron exchanged some good passing before the big Frenchman scooped the ball way over the bar. That passing partnership would come back to haunt Borough in the second half as it was Wright who got the assist for Mandron’s equalizer.
Stevenage enjoyed much of the play in the first half with a few good chances charged down, blocked or saved by the Col U rearguard. The next big chance for The U’s was 40 minutes later, just before half time, when the team finally registered their first shot on target. Right-back Ryan Jackson – on his home debut – burst into the box with the ball following a Stevenage clearance. Mandron held the ball up for the former Gillingham man, then laid it on for him to hit a great strike heading for the far corner of the net before Stevenage keeper Fryer saved spectacularly.
The second half, however, brought on more pressure from the away team. Stevenage danger man Matt Godden had a brilliant chance but just missed the target. Unfortunately, it was at the point that Colchester’s luck ran out. The Essex side’s centre-back signing from Barnsley, Cole Kpekawa, had to be taken off the pitch, suffering concussion. Right-back Kinsella replaced him and Colchester now one centre-back down, went 1-0 down practically immediately.
Stevenage’s Ronnie Henry worked fantastically on the left hand side to get the ball past The U’s defenders to pick out striker Newton who duly hooked the ball into the bottom of the net. Ironically, just seconds before the Stevenage fans were celebrating a goal, the Colchester fans were ‘criticising’ the Borough fans support. Sometimes, in football, things really do come back to bite you.
However, the goal seemed to be the added bit of pressure the Colchester players needed. Their play had more urgency and the team looked much more dangerous. The game was far from over.
Therefore, unsurprisingly, it was the home side that scored next. 15 minutes after Borough scored, goalkeeper Fryer decided to try his luck as an outfield player. As attacker Drey Wright ran onto a brilliant ball from the back, the Stevenage keeper ran out to meet him and found himself in no man’s land. Good work from Wright found himself free to pick out Mikael Mandron unmarked in the middle of the box and he placed the ball perfectly in the top corner of the net. 1-1.
Colchester had one more good chance to go ahead but, truthfully, it would have been an undeserved win. Not that I would have complained if they did win. Nevertheless, it was a good point for The U’s and (although we’re a long way off it) who knows how important that point will be, come the end of the season.
1 Walker 18 Eastman 6 Kent 12 Kpekawa (sub – Kinsella 48′) 2 Jackson 4 Lapslie 16 Murray (sub – Slater 76′) 17 Reid (sub – Loft 78′) 10 Szmodics 7 Wright 19 Mandron
Subs – 3 Kinsella, 8 Loft, 9 Johnstone, 22 Vincent-Young, 24 Slater, 29 Gilmartin, 35 James
1 Fryer 25 Henry 5 Franks 6 Wilkinson 3 J Martin 7 Whelpdale (sub – Samuel 46′) 17 Gorman 2 Smith 8 Beautyman (sub – Pett 86′) 24 Godden (sub – Kennedy 60′) 19 Newton
Subs – 10 Kennedy, 11 Pett, 15 Samuel, 16 Day, 18 Conlon, 20 Vancooten, 30 McKee
Refereee – Antony Coggins Attendance – 3,330
Words Piers Palmer, D3D4 Colchester United Correspondent
Cambridge United 1-2 Carlisle United
Strikes from Reggie Lambe and centre back Tom Parkes either side of a Medy Elito penalty were enough for Carlisle to pick up their first three points of the season, as the Cumbrians battled to a 2-1 victory over Cambridge, who fell to their third defeat in the new season’s opening week.
The away side started brightly, with forwards Richie Bennett and Hallam Hope a constant thorn in the side of the Cambridge defence. Bennett saw an early shot saved, with U’s ‘keeper David Forde smothering the rebound as Hope lurked with intent. The deadlock was broken in the eighth minute, as a slick passing move combining the aforementioned Hope, John O’Sullivan and finally Reggie Lambe culminating in the wide man angling a lovely curling effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
The lead, however, did not last for long, as Cambridge immediately set about making up for their early deficit. A deep, looped cross from Jake Carroll was fumbled by Carlisle stopper Jack Bonham, on loan from Brentford, under pressure from ex-Cumbrian Jabo Ibehre, which was picked up by Medy Elito, who was felled in the box by a Carlisle defender, leaving referee Tom Nield with no choice but to point to the spot. Elito, who had scored a hat-trick in a fixture between the two sides earlier in the year, picked himself up to confidently fire the penalty home, sending Bonham the wrong way.
Having restored parity, the home side set about making their home advantage count, with an extended period of pressure, which saw Cambridge retain the ball well, with numerous passes played up to intimidating front pair Uche Ikpeazu and Jabo Ibehre. It was, however, Carlisle who scored the games next, and deciding goal, somewhat against the run of play. Tom Miller got up well to send a free header across the face of goal from a corner, causing chaos in the Cambridge six-yard box, which they failed to clear, and it was central defender Tom Parkes who lashed the ball home to put his side ahead for the second time in the game.
It was ‘déjà vu’ for Shaun Derry’s side, as they spent the second half searching for a reply, just as they had done at Exeter in their opening fixture. Despite seeing most of the possession, the home side really struggled to convert their second half pressure into any meaningful chances. The closest Cambridge could come to equalising was through a Jabo Ibehre header, from a Leon Davies right sided cross, which crashed against the cross bar following a fine finger-tip save from goalkeeper Bonham, who managed to keep hold of the rebound, which fell kindly for him.
Ultimately though, it was yet more frustration for Cambridge, who yet again lacked the cutting edge and quality necessary to salvage anything from the game. This was met by boos from a section of the home support at the full-time whistle, who grow increasingly frustrated with their team’s constant failure to improve on a disappointing home record at best. The U’s will simply have to tighten up at the back, and improve their potency in front of goal as they travel to Crawley next in search of their first three points, if they are to avoid a repeat of last season’s beginning to the season, which saw them rock bottom going into the third month.
Words Tom Walker, D3D4 Cambridge United Correspondent
Lincoln City 1-1 Morecambe
8000 AT SINCIL BANK FOR LINCOLNS FIRST HOME GAME BACK IN EFL
Lincoln’s first home game back in football league attracted a huge crowd to Sincil Bank after a six year absence.
Morecambe were the visitors for the opening home game and if it had been boxing the referee would have stopped the match.
Lincoln were so dominant in the first half, at one stage their dominance was total with Morecambe barely getting out their own half.
Chances came and went with Matt Green being the guilty party, missing two guilt edged chances, Matt Rhead had a cast iron penalty turned down when clearly fouled in the box but the referee, who in my opinion had a very poor game, waved away all appeals.
After a goalless first half, as always in these situations Morecambe scored a good goal against the run of play when Wildig scored from the edge of the box.
To say it came against the run of play is the understatement of the season so far.
The Imps continued to press, roared on by their biggest opening home crowd in 48 years, and they equalised in the 70th minute, when Matt Green turned wonderfully on the ball to score from a tight angle.
Five minutes later Lincoln had another great chance but veteran keeper Roche who had a barnstorming game, stopped two goal bound efforts in matter of seconds two thwart a rampant Imps side.
In the end the points were shared in a remarkably one sided game where Lincoln had 25 shots on goal to Morecambe’s three.
Jim Bentley, the Morecambe boss was delighted with the point, and forecast City to steamroll some teams this season.
They now face a tricky away game in Devon against a good Exeter side who reached the playoffs last season.
Words Paul Lee, D3D4 Lincoln City Correspondent