The end of a three-game week saw the form of many teams change, some for good while some are hoping for September to end. The season is already 10 games in, and the contenders for promotion and relegation are becoming clearer, although there is still a long way to go. Which team is struggling to score goals and who is having a change in fortune with a new manager?
Cheltenham exceeding expectations with best start to a season
Cheltenham Town were tipped to struggle this season, with the club having one of the smaller budgets in the division. That clearly hasn’t affected manager Michael Duff who has now guided Cheltenham to four consecutive wins, with the last two coming against relegated League One teams Bradford City and Plymouth Argyle.
The Robins continued their fine home record with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Bradford City. Jermaine Anderson firing the Bantams into the lead after 55 minutes, but Gavin Reilly equalised less than five minutes later. Jake Doyle-Hayes put the home side ahead on 70 minutes before Ben Richards-Everton brought Bradford back level six minutes later. Captain Ben Tozer secured the victory for Cheltenham on 80 minutes with a powerful header.
Away victories used to be a rarity for Cheltenham, but now they’ve won consecutive games on their travels after a hard-fought 2-0 win at Plymouth Argyle. Striker Luke Varney gave the visitors the lead just before half-time with a free header against the run of play. Despite creating very few chances, the Robins sealed the win in added time when Ryan Broom’s effort took a big deflection off Will Aimson.
Cheltenham have now made their best start to an EFL season and are now third in the League Two table, two points behind leaders Exeter City. They have a chance to go top of the table this Saturday but face a tough task as they host second place Crewe Alexandra.
Crewe leading the chasing pack behind leaders Exeter
Following the disappointment of a 3-2 defeat at home to Cambridge United, it was vital that Crewe Alexandra bounced back to establish their promotion credentials. They certainly delivered after picking up consecutive victories against newly promoted Leyton Orient and Salford City.
Crewe took the lead away at Leyton Orient on 32 minutes after Eddie Nolan slotted the ball from close range. The hosts equalised 10 minutes later when Jordan Maguire-Drew capitalised on some poor defending from Crewe to lob goalkeeper Will Jaaskelainen. It looked like being Crewe’s first draw of the season, but James Jones hit a powerful volley deep into added time to give the visitors all three points.
A 4-1 victory over Salford City on matchday 10 was as comfortable as the score suggests. The Ammies were ahead at half-time with Adam Rooney pouncing on another defensive mistake, this time from Jaaskelainen. The second half was a different story as Chris Porter, Harry Pickering and a brace from Tommy Lowery completed an emphatic turnaround. Lowery’s first goal was a sight to behold, as he combined strength and trickery to flick the ball over the Salford defence before slotting past Kyle Letheren.
The victories see Crewe move into second place and just a point behind Exeter. As previously mentioned, they travel to third place Cheltenham Town on Saturday in what is the big game of matchday 11.
Lack of goals becoming a problem for Forest Green
Forest Green Rovers have had a good start to the season, but there’s one aspect that’s eluded them so far. The lack of goals scored, and while they’re unbeaten in three games its only seen them score once.
A long trip to Carlisle United awaited Forest Green in midweek, and it would result in a goalless draw. Rovers had to hold on in the final 20 minutes after James Morton was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge on Hallam Hope. The visitors were resolute as always in defence and frustrated Carlisle as they held on for a point.
Rovers also suffered disciplinary issues at home to Stevenage as Kyle Taylor was shown a second yellow card on 86 minutes after fouling Michael Timlin. The struggling visitors failed to capitalise on their numerical advantage as the game ended goalless.
Forest Green have only scored seven goals this campaign with 1-0 being the score for each of their league victories. Rovers will want to add more goals as well as points to their tally when they travel to Salford City this Saturday.
Consecutive wins see Walsall steer clear of danger
Walsall have not enjoyed life in League Two following relegation last season. Without a win since the opening day of the season, the Saddlers knew they needed to get maximum points against fellow strugglers, Morecambe and Scunthorpe United.
Walsall would take all three points from their trip to Morecambe in a game lacking any real quality. Midfielder Stuart Sinclair scored the only goal of the game after four minutes with a close range rebound after Rory Gaffney’s effort was saved by Barry Roche. Morecambe’s Shaun Miller’s effort was ruled out for offside in the second half but Walsall held on for the crucial victory.
Something had to give when Walsall entertained Scunthorpe United on matchday 10. The hosts were without a win at home, while the visitors were yet to register a point on their travels. James Clarke’s brilliant bicycle kick for the hosts was the one moment of brilliance that separated the teams in a lacklustre affair.
The consecutive victories see Walsall move into 16th and seven points clear of the relegation places. The Saddlers will be hoping to continue their resurgence when they travel to Crawley Town this Saturday.
New manager sees change in fortune for Oldham
It has certainly been an eventful season at Oldham Athletic. Only one league win saw the Latics in 21st place before games against Scunthorpe United and Morecambe. Both of those games would not only see different head coaches, but also a difference in fortunes.
Head coach Laurent Banide was sacked following a 2-2 draw away at Scunthorpe United. The Frenchman won just two of his 11 games in charge with the Latics struggling near the relegation zone. Banide was replaced by Dino Maamria, who himself was sacked by Stevenage earlier this month.
Maamria began his reign as Oldham head coach with a comfortable 3-1 home win against fellow strugglers Morecambe. Goals either side of half-time from Mohammed Maouche and Desire Segbe Azankpo fired Oldham into a 2-0 lead. Morecambe reduced the deficit after Shaun Miller scored a simple tap-in but Jonny Smith settled any late nerves with a powerful finish.
Oldham’s first home win of the season saw them move to 20th and level on points with Mansfield Town. The Latics will be hoping to make it consecutive wins under Maamria when they travel to Carlisle United this Saturday.
Matchday nine results:
Carlisle United 0-0 Forest Green Rovers
Cheltenham Town 3-2 Bradford City
Crawley Town 2-2 Plymouth Argyle
Exeter City 2-0 Port Vale
Leyton Orient 1-2 Crewe Alexandra
Macclesfield Town 1-1 Newport County
Mansfield Town 0-4 Cambridge United
Morecambe 0-1 Walsall
Salford City 1-0 Grimsby Town
Scunthorpe United 2-2 Oldham Athletic
Stevenage 0-1 Northampton Town
Swindon Town 0-3 Colchester United
Matchday 10 results:
Bradford City 3-1 Carlisle United
Cambridge United 0-1 Swindon Town
Colchester United 2-1 Leyton Orient
Crewe Alexandra 4-1 Salford City
Forest Green Rovers 0-0 Stevenage
Grimsby Town 1-0 Macclesfield Town
Newport County 1-1 Exeter City
Northampton Town 2-2 Crawley Town
Oldham Athletic 3-1 Morecambe
Plymouth Argyle 0-2 Cheltenham Town
Port Vale 2-2 Mansfield Town
Walsall 1-0 Scunthorpe United