League Two 2019/20: Five key talking points from Matchday 18

The centre of attention was once again shifted to League Two action following the first round of the FA Cup. Once again, the league leaders changed hands, and how did Morecambe and Leyton Orient do under new management? Let’s find out!

Northampton demolish high-flying Crewe to move into Playoffs

Northampton Town are the in-form team in League Two, with four wins and a draw in their last five games. The Cobblers hosted Crewe Alexandra, a game that would appear tough on paper but the end result was the worst away defeat for the visitors this season.

The damage was done inside the opening 25 minutes as Northampton raced into a 3-0 lead. Defender Scott Wharton scored an unlikely brace, with the first coming at the end of a close-range scramble after 10 minutes. His second was a sublime volley from Nicky Adams’ free-kick eight minutes later before Sam Hoskins added a third from the penalty spot.

Chris Porter managed to pull a goal back for the visitors on 37 minutes as Crewe tried to stage an unlikely comeback. Any small glimpses of hope for the visitors ended on 57 minutes when Andy Williams lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Will Jaaskelainen to complete the scoring.

The victory sees Northampton move into the playoffs and within two points of third-place Bradford City. Meanwhile, Crewe are in their worst run of the season as consecutive defeats extends their winless run to three games.

The Cobblers will be looking to edge closer to the automatic promotion places when they host Grimsby Town this Saturday. Crewe will also have the same goal in mind when they host struggling Morecambe.

Forest Green knocked off top spot after rare home defeat

Forest Green Rovers are having a great season so far, having returned to the top of League Two after victory away at local rivals Cheltenham Town two weeks ago. This week saw Rovers return to League Two action at home to another West Country rival in Plymouth Argyle. The Pilgrims were determined to bounce back from their humiliating defeat at rivals Exeter City three weeks ago.

Plymouth’s Antoni Sarcevic scored what proved to be the winning goal on 24 minutes in a game light on chances. Sarcevic managed to cut past two Rovers defenders before lifting the ball high into the far top corner. Forest Green came close to equalising just before the interval after a fingertip save from Alex Palmer denied Joseph Mills’ cross.

Argyle put their bodies on the line in the second half to prevent Forest Green from creating any clear-cut opportunities. Jack Aitchison came closest to equalising for the hosts, but his powerful drive went wide of the target. Argyle also had their chances to seal the win with Scott Wootton and Dominic Telford having glancing headers go narrowly wide.

Forest Green suffered just their second home defeat of the season as they drop to second in the table. Plymouth move up to 11th and are within two points of the playoffs.

The Pilgrims host promotion-chasing Bradford City this Saturday in one of the games of the weekend in League Two. Forest Green will be hoping to return to the top of the league table when they travel to Leyton Orient.

Swindon capitalise on other results to become new league leaders

Swindon Town are the new leaders of League Two after a hard-fought 3-2 victory away at Salford City.

The Robins conceded a fourth-minute penalty after goalkeeper Steven Benda tripped Adam Rooney, who then converted from the spot. The visitors bounced back and were level five minutes later after Eoin Doyle slotted the ball past goalkeeper Chris Neal.

Doyle scored his 16th goal of the season on 54 minutes from the penalty spot. Jerry Yates then added Swindon’s third with 12 minutes remaining to seal the victory. Rooney scored his second penalty of the afternoon deep into injury time, but it was too little too late.

Swindon’s fourth consecutive victory moves them two points clear at the top of League Two although teams below do have at least one game in hand. Salford drop to 12th after their first defeat in four games but remain in contention for a playoff place.

Swindon return to the County Ground this Saturday as they host mid-table Mansfield Town while Salford host Macclesfield Town.

Morecambe claim battling point in Derek Adams’ first league game in charge

Morecambe appointed former Plymouth Argyle head-coach Derek Adams as their new manager on November 7. In four years at Argyle, Adams led the Pilgrims to promotion to League One in 2017, but a 5-1 defeat at Accrington Stanley was the end of his reign.

The main aim for Adams will be to steer Morecambe away from the relegation places, and his first league game in charge was a small step in the right direction. The Shrimps fancied their chances away at Crawley Town, who were horribly out-of-form going into this fixture.

Crawley took the lead on 44 minutes when Bez Lubala converted from the penalty spot. Morecambe performed admirably under pressure in the second half and deservedly equalised in the final 10 minutes. Cole Stockton met Tom Brewitt’s cross to fire a first-time shot past Glenn Morris.

Morecambe move off the bottom of League Two by a point as Stevenage didn’t play. Crawley move up to 16th but have now won just one of their previous ten league games.

Crawley’s next game is at home to Exeter City while Morecambe have a difficult trip away at Crewe Alexandra.

Embleton’s third spell in caretaker charge of Orient starts with home defeat

Leyton Orient’s embarrassing 2-1 defeat at home to eighth-tier Maldon & Tiptree proved to be Carl Fletcher’s last in charge as his tenure as manager ended after just 29 days. Fletcher replaced Ross Embleton on October 16, and his only win came in a penalty shootout against Brighton U21’s in the EFL Trophy. The 39-year-olds reign is officially the sixth shortest in EFL history.

Embleton was back in temporary charge for the third time ahead of their home game against struggling Scunthorpe United. When Embleton stepped aside, Orient were 12th and within two points of the playoffs. A lot can change in a month, and Orient’s poor form didn’t improve against Scunthorpe.

Scunthorpe raced into a fourth-minute lead when Alex Gilliead fired the ball into the top corner from 20 yards. The visitors sealed the victory on 79 minutes when Lee Novak was played through by Matty Lund before curling the ball past goalkeeper Dean Brill.

The defeat sees Orient slip to 17th with Scunthorpe close behind in 19th after extending their unbeaten run to four games.

Orient are at home once again this Saturday against promotion hopefuls Forest Green Rovers while Scunthorpe host in-form Port Vale.

Matchday 18 results:

Crawley Town 1-1 Morecambe

Exeter City 0-0 Cheltenham Town

Forest Green Rovers 0-1 Plymouth Argyle

Leyton Orient 0-2 Scunthorpe United

Macclesfield Town 0-0 Mansfield Town

Northampton Town 4-1 Crewe Alexandra

Port Vale 2-1 Carlisle United

Salford City 2-3 Swindon Town

Walsall 2-1 Cambridge United