Casting an eye over all the goings-on in League 2
Exeter City could not have picked a better place to get back to winning ways and round off 2013 as they convincingly beat neighbours Torquay United 3-1 at Plainmoor on Sunday.
Tom Nichols scored his third goal in December and his fifth for the club to give the Grecians the lead, before David Wheeler doubled the advantage in some style on the hour. Despite Karl Hawley pulling one back for the Gulls shortly after, it was Alan Gow who secured the bragging rights for the away side, who continued their excellent record in local derbies so far this term. The three points move City up to 11 in the Sky Bet League 2 table, but United drop back into the bottom two.
“We’re all disappointed to have lost but I thought we were pretty good yesterday, and goals have cost us,” Torquay manager Alan Knill told his club’s official website following the game. “The overall performance was excellent and the first-half was as good as we’ve played. You have to take your chances and we went behind to a great shot. Even then, we didn’t panic and kept doing the same things, but we had to throw on another striker after going 2-0 down. We got a goal back and I thought we would make it a draw, but we then got done with their third. It’s a disappointing day but there were a lot of positives, especially when you look at what we had available.”
Abu Ogogo netted Dagenham's equaliser against leaders Chesterfield
With the game between Wycombe Wanderers and Fleetwood Town at Adams Park postponed due to a frozen pitch, there were ten other games in League 2 on Sunday. League leaders Chesterfield were held at home by Dagenham & Redbridge; Paul Cook’s side took the lead despite going down to ten men through the dismissal of Sam Hird for a professional foul as Marc Richards scoring a penalty for the men in blue, but the Daggers were level within ten minutes thanks to Abu Ogogo’s first goal since October. The Spireites top the pile at the halfway stage with 41 points from 23 games.
It’s tight at the top though – both the second- and third-placed sides match Chesterfield’s points total. Scunthorpe United reached that amount with victory at the Kassam Stadium against fellow high-fliers Oxford United, with Deon Burton and David Syers scoring in a 2-0 win. Burton’s goal was his fourth goal in as many games. “We’re joint top going into the New Year and I don’t think you can ask for much more,” Iron boss Russ Wilcox said following the match. In third (on goal difference only) are Burton Albion, with Gary Rowett’s side winning 1-0 at home against Newport County AFC thanks to Billy Kee’s goal with just over ten minutes left to play. Rowett was delighted that his side got the job done, saying, “I would say that’s the best we’ve played in 2013 actually. You’ve got to remember Newport are the in-form team over the ten games. They’ve been flying really high and I think they’ve won their last two or three away from home.”
Caretaker boss Andy King led Northampton Town to a 0-0 draw at Fratton Park against Portsmouth to bring the Cobblers within three points of escaping the relegation zone. Right on the edge of that zone are York City, who were beaten at 2-1 Gigg Lane by Bury. Nigel Worthington’s side couldn’t have made a worse start, Anton Forrester giving the Shakers the lead after just 38 seconds and Nathan Cameron getting the second before 20 minutes had passed. Sub Michael Coulson got a consolation in the latter stages of the game, but the comeback was never completed, David Flitcroft getting his first win as Bury boss. “We got the goal but in any game, no matter what league you’re in, you cannot start a game like we started today because you’re automatically on the back foot,” Worthington told BBC Radio York.
Matt Rhead was on the Mansfield scoresheet in Cheltenham
Mansfield Town’s winless run finally came to an end as they ran out 2-1 winners away at Cheltenham Town. Anthony Howell and Matt Rhead gave the Stags a 2-0 lead at the break, and despite Sido Jombati’s consolation with three minutes to go, the away team held on for their first three points in 13 attempts, and coincidentally also the Robin’s first defeat in 12. Luke Prosser rescued a draw and a point for Phil Brown’s Southend United after Mark Phillips’ own goal had given Accrington Stanley the lead at the Crown Ground. The Shrimpers, now in sixth place, were described by Stanley boss James Beattie as ‘as good a side’ as his team had faced this season, despite the 1-1 scoreline. Another late equaliser salvaged a 1-1 draw as AFC Wimbledon met Plymouth Argyle at Kingsmeadow. Two in-form strikers contributed the goals, with Michael Smith putting the Dons ahead with his ninth of the season, before Reuben Reid equalised with two minutes to go, his 12th of the campaign in all competitions and fourth in his last three games.
Jack Baldwin heads Hartlepool into the lead at Morecambe
Rochdale moved up to fourth with a 2-0 win over Bristol Rovers. Both goals came in a five-minute period, with Scott Hogan and Graham Cummins each finding the net two minutes either side of the hour. There is only a point separating Dale with the top three, with Keith Hill’s side looking just as credible in terms of contenders for an automatic promotion spot. Finally, a frantic finish saw Hartlepool United collect three points at Morecambe despite looking to have blown it by conceding an 87th-minute equaliser. Jack Baldwin’s header gave Pools a 1-0 lead that looked like being the game’s only goal, but Jack Sampson looked to have saved it for the Shrimps when he drew them level. Jonathan Franks had the last word though, as his volley won it 2-1 for Colin Cooper’s side at the death.