Weekend League 2 round-up

All the movers and shakers around Sky Bet League 2

Exeter City fell just short of pulling off a tremendous late comeback at Fratton Park as they went down to Portsmouth 3-2.  The weather conditions were partially to blame when Pompey took the lead through a Ricky Holmes cross, as the man signed by Guy Whittingham this summer will have a hard time convincing everyone that finding the net was his original intention.  Then it was a brace from Ryan Bird which put the home side three-up, with Danny Coles and John O’Flynn’s consolations only just failing to rescue what had looked an unlikely draw.

Fleetwood Town went top of the league in style as they beat ten-man Newport County AFC 4-1.  Steven Schumacher got his first career hat-trick, the first and last goals of which were penalties, and David Ball added the fourth.  County, who lost Robbie Wilmott to a straight red card for conceding the first penalty, scored a spot-kick of their own through Chris Zebroski, but it was barely a consolation; Fleetwood now sit two points clear on top of the table on 28 points.  

The match had been threatened by a floodlight failure at half-time but managed to reach a conclusion nonetheless, much like at Spotland, where Rochdale and AFC Wimbledon nearly had to end after around 70 minutes for the same reason.  When Jamie Allen scored on his debut it looked as if Rochdale might be continuing their recent good run, but the goals of Sammy Moore, and Andy Frampton after the stoppage, gave Wimbledon a 2-1 win.

John-Joe O'Toole netted from the spot for the Gas

A 1-0 home defeat to Bristol Rovers saw Oxford United drop to second.  John-Joe O’Toole secured the shock Rovers win from the penalty spot after Eliot Richards as brought down by Jake Wright.  Next up for the Grecians in the league is the visit of Southend United in two weeks to SJP, and the Shrimpers were big winners on Friday evening as they beat Mansfield Town 3-0 at Roots Hall.  Anthony Straker set the ball rolling on 25 minutes, before Jamie McGuire’s own goal and Kevan Hurst’s injury-time third sealed the win.  For every goal there was a red card, with the Stags losing debutant James Alabi and Lee Beevers and United doing without the services of Conor Clifford after he too was dismissed.

Aaron Downes opened the scoring in a 3-1 Torquay win

Both of the league’s other Devon sides were victorious this weekend.  A flurry of goals across 11 minutes in the first half at Gigg Lane left Torquay United 2-1 up on Bury.  Aaron Downes’ opener was cancelled out by the Shakers’ Nathan Cameron, but Paul McCallum quickly made amends.  McCallum added another in the second half to complete a 3-1 win.  Meanwhile, Plymouth Argyle left it late for Lewis Alessandra to get the injury-time winner against struggling Northampton Town, therefore putting some much-needed insurance space between themselves and the drop zone as they ended 1-0.

Accrington Stanley missed the opportunity to leapfrog the Cobblers as Peter Murphy salvaged a home point for James Beattie’s side with the last kick of the game at the Fraser Eagle Stadium against Wycombe Wanderers.  Wanderers couldn’t hold on having scored late themselves through Anthony Stewart on 72  minutes, as it ended in a 1-1 draw.  And after their blip last week, Hartlepool United got back to winning ways when they faced Dagenham & Redbridge at Victoria Park.  James Poole and Andy Monkhouse scored either side of a Zavon Hines equaliser for the Daggers, with a 2-1 win leaving Pools now just one place away from the top-half – their recent good form key to their ascendancy up the League 2 ladder.

Morecambe's winner came courtesy of Ryan Williams

A Ryan Williams goal earned Morecambe a 1-0 win at the Pirelli Stadium, ending Burton Albion’s three-match winning run; the Brewers could have gone second with victory.  Four goals were shared at the Abbey Business Stadium in Cheltenham Town’s 2-2 draw with York City.  Byron Harrison got his third in as many games to put the Robins in front, but Ryan Bowman equalised before Matthew Richards got the home side back in front just before half-time.  A second for Bowman meant it was a point apiece.  Finally, Chesterfield were oh-so-close to ending their winless streak in the league as Marc Richards gave them an early lead, but Scunthorpe United snatched a late point via Luke Waterfall’s header as it ended 1-1.  That’s seven without a win for the Spireites.

Round-up by Oliver Roderick – @olrodlegacy