League Two 2019/20: Five key talking points from Matchday 28

Another week of League Two action has passed by, with some surprising results at both ends of the table. Are Swindon feeling the pressure at the top, and did Stevenage get their first win under Graham Westley? Let’s have a look at the key talking points from this week’s fixtures.

Stevenage hammer Cambridge to claim first win in three months

It’s been a tough season for Stevenage, with the club having more managers than league wins going into their visit to Cambridge United. Stevenage would go on to secure their first league win since October in emphatic style.

Stevenage had only scored three goals in that winless run, but they crushed that statistic in just one game at the Abbey Stadium. Goalkeeper Paul Farman saved brilliantly from Harrison Dunk in a rare effort for the hosts in a forgettable afternoon. The visitors took the lead on 36 minutes after Elliot List did well to fool the Cambridge defence before slotting the ball past Dimitar Mitov.

The second half saw Stevenage turn on the style, with debutant Jake Cassidy doubling their lead on the hour mark. Charlie Carter scored a superb individual goal on 87 minutes before Charlie Lakin completed the rout in added time to give Graham Westley his first win in his fourth spell in charge.

The victory sees Stevenage move off the bottom of League Two after picking up just their third win of the campaign. Cambridge remain 16th but are yet to pick up a point in 2020 after suffering their fourth consecutive defeat.

Stevenage face a tough test to earn consecutive wins for the first time this season when they host promotion-chasing Plymouth Argyle. Cambridge next travel to Morecambe, the team that replaced Stevenage at the bottom of League Two.

Swindon’s defeat at Newport leaves leaders looking over their shoulder

Swindon Town’s lead at the top of League Two is hanging by a thread after they slipped to a 2-0 defeat away at a resurgent Newport County.

The Robins started in the worst possible way by conceding inside 45 seconds. Midfielder Josh Sheehan did well to sprint through the Swindon defence before poking the ball past Steven Benda. The Exiles almost doubled their lead before the interval after a header from Ryan Inniss cannoned off the crossbar.

Swindon couldn’t get a foothold in the game and conceded again early in the second half. Several Robins defenders failed to deal with a high cross before Jamille Matt eventually bundled home from close range on 49 minutes. The league leaders created chances at a premium as Newport held on for the deserved win.

The Robins are still top of League Two, but only by goal difference ahead of Exeter City and six points clear of the chasing pack who have games in hand.

Swindon will be looking to bounce back at home to Port Vale while Newport visit struggling Leyton Orient.

Exeter move level with leaders after edging past Holloway’s Mariners

Exeter City are breathing down Swindon’s necks after they inflicted Ian Holloway his first defeat as Grimsby Town manager in a hard-fought 1-0 victory.

Grecians goalkeeper Jonny Maxted produced several superb saves throughout, with his first coming from a powerful strike from Max Wright. Exeter created chances of their own, with efforts from Pierce Sweeney and Nicky Law parried away by James McKeown. Mariners striker Elliot Whitehouse’s curling effort struck the far post in a first half that burst into life in the latter stages.

Maxted continue to keep Exeter in the game after the interval, including an instinctive save from Billy Clarke’s close-range header. Grimsby were made to rue their missed chances when Nicky Law broke the deadlock on 68 minutes with a curling effort. Clarke came close with a long-range effort, only to once again be denied by Maxted’s reflexes.

The Grecians are level on points with league leaders Swindon Town after extending their unbeaten league run to 10-games. The defeat keeps the Mariners in 17th place and eight points clear of the relegation zone.

Exeter host Colchester United on Saturday and can go top of League Two if they better Swindon’s result. Grimsby travel to Crawley Town who are two places and two points above them in the league table.

Promotion battle heats up as Crewe replace Cheltenham into third

The big game in terms of league position took place at Gresty Road as fourth place Crewe Alexandra hosted third place Cheltenham Town. One goal proved enough for Crewe to take all three points and move ahead of their opponents in the table.

Cheltenham created most of the chances in the first half, with recent arrival Alfie May coming close with a failed lob attempt. May would later square the ball across for Alex Addai, only to miss what seemed like a certain goal. Crewe’s best effort was Callum Ainley’s powerful strike saved by the feet of goalkeeper Owen Evans.

The second half was end-to-end with both teams showing why they’re at the higher end of the division. Crewe scored what proved to be the winning goal on 65 minutes courtesy of low, left-footed drive from captain Perry Ng.

The defeat for Cheltenham sees them slide from third to seventh and barely hanging on to a playoff place. Crewe move up to third on goals scored ahead of Plymouth Argyle.

Crewe travel to struggling Macclesfield in midweek before travelling to mid-table Scunthorpe United next weekend. Cheltenham aren’t in action due to Northampton Town’s involvement in the FA Cup.

Kennedy’s reign at Silkmen starts with loss at Colchester

Macclesfield Town appointed Mark Kennedy as their third manager of the campaign after Daryl McMahon’s resignation earlier this month. The 43-year-old was part of Sol Campbell’s backroom staff last season as they avoided relegation to the National League. Kennedy’s first game in charge was away to Colchester United, and it would begin with a 2-1 defeat.

A quick-fire first-half double proved to be enough for the U’s to secure their first win in 2020. Callum Harriott opened the scoring on 14 minutes for the hosts with a spectacular 30-yard looping effort. The lead was doubled less than two minutes later after Fiacre Kelleher diverted Kwame Poku’s cross into his own net.

Theo Robinson thought he had sealed the game for Colchester, only for his effort to ruled out for offside. Ben Stephens gave the Silkmen a glimmer of hope on 72 minutes with a perfectly timed volley, but they weren’t able to snatch a point.

The win for Colchester ends their run of four consecutive draws as they go level on points with seventh-place Cheltenham. Macclesfield stay 22nd and are just two points ahead of Stevenage and Morecambe in the battle to avoid relegation.

Colchester have two games against promotion rivals with a visit to Exeter following a home encounter in midweek against Bradford City. The Silkmen also have high-flying opposition in the coming week as they host Crewe and Forest Green Rovers.

Matchday 28 results:

Bradford City 2-2 Scunthorpe United

Cambridge United 0-4 Stevenage

Colchester United 2-1 Macclesfield Town

Crewe Alexandra 1-0 Cheltenham Town

Forest Green Rovers 1-2 Salford City

Grimsby Town 0-1 Exeter City

Newport County 2-0 Swindon Town

Northampton Town 4-1 Morecambe

Oldham Athletic 1-1 Carlisle United

Plymouth Argyle 3-1 Mansfield Town

Port Vale 1-0 Leyton Orient

Walsall 2-1 Crawley Town