League Two 2019/20: Five key talking points from Matchday 11

The League Two season took another exciting twist as the second month of the campaign nears its conclusion. Who needed a late equaliser in a six-goal thriller and who won a league game in September for the first time in three years? Let’s have a look at the key talking points from matchday 11.

Exeter’s unbeaten start ended by Grimsby; but they remain top

Exeter City were still the only remaining team yet to lose going into their encounter with Grimsby Town. Avoiding defeat on matchday 11 at home to Grimsby Town would’ve seen the Grecians equal a club record of 14 league games unbeaten. It would prove to be one game too many for the league leaders as they fell to a 3-1 defeat.

The Grecians started the brighter of the two teams but would fall behind on 23 minutes after Ethan Robson’s curling strike. The hosts would unleash chance after chance in the opening stages of the second half, including an effort from Pierce Sweeney that hit the crossbar.

Despite their dominance, Exeter were caught out on the break which lead to Dean Moxey bringing down Moses Ogbu and giving away a penalty. Ogbu composed himself and slotted past Lewis Ward from 12 yards. The Grecians fate was sealed on 67 minutes when the two scorers linked up on another breakaway before Robson powered the ball from close range.

The consolation for the hosts came deep into second half injury time courtesy of a tap-in from Ryan Bowman. The defeat ends Exeter’s unbeaten start, but Bowman’s goal keeps the Grecians top of League Two on goal difference.

Exeter will be looking to bounce back from this setback but face a tough trip away to second place Crewe Alexandra. After the impressive victory away at the league leaders, Grimsby host struggling Mansfield Town.

Cheltenham & Crewe fail to take advantage

The big game of matchday 11 saw third place Cheltenham Town host second place Crewe Alexandra. The visitors had to dig deep in the end as both teams had to settle for a point.

Cheltenham took the lead inside 10 minutes when Gavin Reilly tapped in a rebound after a header from Jacob Greaves was saved. The visitors would equalise in first half injury time with Chris Porter finishing low past Scott Flinders.

The second half saw Cheltenham create multiple chances, with Reilly coming close to adding to his tally. Crewe captain Perry Ng was shown a second yellow card on 70 minutes for an off-the-ball incident, but the visitors managed to hold on for a draw.

The result proved to be frustrating for both sides as they would find out that leaders Exeter lost at home to Grimsby. A win for either team would’ve seen them replace the Grecians at the top of League Two. Instead both teams are looking over their shoulders, as the gap between first and sixth is just two points.

As previously mentioned, Crewe host the league leaders in what promises to be a fascinating encounter at Gresty Road. Cheltenham will be looking to extend their recent good away form when they travel to Oldham Athletic.

Forest Green scoring goals for fun as Salford’s struggles continue

Last week I mentioned that Forest Green Rovers are struggling to score goals despite challenging for promotions. This was emphasised by consecutive 0-0 draws, but that certainly wasn’t the case when they travelled to Salford City.

The visitors effectively won the game after 30 minutes thanks to goals from Matty Stevens, Aaron Collins and Ebou Adams. The third goal from Adams was the standout, as he drove the ball past Kyle Letheren from over 20 yards. Defensive mistakes from the Ammies were the catalyst for Forest Green’s success, with Stevens adding his second on 59 minutes after he slotted past Kyle Letheren.

Salford’s start to life in the EFL hasn’t been what many have expected. With just two wins, the Ammies are down in 18th and face the prospect of a relegation battle. The same can’t be said for Rovers who despite scoring more than one goal for the first time this season, are now one of the chasing pack in the top six.

Forest Green have the chance to go top of League Two this Saturday when they host Crawley Town. Without an away win in the EFL, Salford will want to change that when they travel to in-form Walsall.

Six-goal thriller at Orient

Leyton Orient and Port Vale have had mixed starts to their campaigns, with Orient particularly struggling at the wrong end of the table. That didn’t stop both teams from sharing the spoils in a six-goal thriller at Brisbane Road.

Orient took the lead after just four minutes when Josh Wright guided a free header past goalkeeper Scott Brown. The visitors were level 20 minutes later when Scott Burgess capitalised on a loose ball and saw his deflected effort land in the back of the net. Vale completed a five-minute turnaround when Leon Legge volleyed from a corner.

The second half was equally end-to-end with Orient equalising on the hour mark through Conor Wilkinson’s superb curling effort from 25 yards. Jake Taylor then curled in a wonderful shot of his own with five minutes remaining, seemingly giving Vale the win. Instead it was Wright who had the last laugh deep into injury time with an inch-perfect diving header.

The result sees Vale drop to 15th and without a win in three games. Orient remain 21st and are looking to replace Ross Embleton who will revert to his previous role as assistant coach.

Both teams will be looking to improve defensively this Saturday, with Vale hosting Morecambe while Orient travel to Northampton Town.

Plymouth finally end September curse

Plymouth Argyle have had a poor September which has seen them drop down the League Two table. Two points out of a possible 12 and falling to 14th place, a familiar feeling when playing in September. Thankfully for the Green Army it was one moment of brilliance that saw their curse end away at Mansfield Town.

The only goal of the game was a 30-yard screamer from Argyle midfielder Conor Grant after 13 minutes. Hard to believe that was his first goal for the club since signing in August 2018. The visitors should’ve added to their tally in the first half with George Cooper missing a free header.

Mansfield had a lot of the ball in the second half but rarely tested goalkeeper Alex Palmer. There were late nerves when Andy Cook was through on goal, but Palmer did well to make the save as the visitors held on.

The result is Argyle’s first league success in September since a 2-0 victory away to Leyton Orient in 2016. That campaign would see the Pilgrims win promotion to League One, so could this victory be the start of lightning striking twice?

Argyle will be looking to move back into the promotion chase when they host struggling Scunthorpe United while Mansfield Town travel to Grimsby Town.

Matchday 11 results:

Carlisle United 1-0 Oldham Athletic

Cheltenham Town 1-1 Crewe Alexandra

Crawley Town 2-3 Walsall

Exeter City 1-3 Grimsby Town

Leyton Orient 3-3 Port Vale

Macclesfield Town 1-1 Colchester United

Mansfield Town 0-1 Plymouth Argyle

Morecambe 2-2 Northampton Town

Salford City 0-4 Forest Green Rovers

Scunthorpe United 1-1 Bradford City

Stevenage 1-1 Cambridge United

Swindon Town 0-2 Newport County