The start of a busy week of games saw plenty of goals and excitement at both ends of the table. Did Mark Kennedy get his first win as Macclesfield boss and what caused a 10-minute delay at Stevenage? We’ll discuss the answers to these plus more talking points from this week’s fixtures.
Argyle soar into top three despite lengthy floodlight delay
Plymouth Argyle are the current in-form team, and they moved into the automatic promotion places with a win at Stevenage. However, they were made to work hard for their win, and not just because of a floodlight issue.
The first half was evenly contested with chances at a premium. Stevenage’s Jake Cassidy out-muscled Joe Edwards before forcing goalkeeper Alex Palmer to parry a curling effort. The hosts were at fault for Argyle’s best effort as Paul Farman’s clearance ricocheted off Antoni Sarcevic and over the crossbar.
The visitors broke the deadlock two minutes after the interval courtesy of Byron Moore’s powerful strike. Argyle were in full control but their momentum was stopped by a floodlight failure resulting in a 10-minute delay. After the restart, Stevenage looked likely to equalise but Ryan Hardie was still able to double Argyle’s lead on 77 minutes. Charlie Carter’s late header reduced the deficit but despite having 13 minutes of injury time, Argyle held on.
Argyle’s eighth win in 10 games moves them up to third, and six points behind leaders Swindon Town with two games in hand. Stevenage slip to the bottom of League Two after Morecambe drew at home to Cambridge United.
Argyle have consecutive home games in the coming days against mid-table opposition in Crawley Town and Newport County. Stevenage visit Grimsby in midweek followed by a home game against Leyton Orient.
Swindon back to winning ways with new look attacking threat
Swindon Town were dealt another blow in their promotion push after Rotherham United recalled striker Jerry Yates. The Robins quickly replaced Yates by signing Hallam Hope from Carlisle United, and he would have the perfect debut against Port Vale.
The Robins were dominant but didn’t open the scoring until the final five minutes of the first half. Diallang Jaiyesemi’s opener took two heavy deflections before landing in the back of the Vale net on 41 minutes. Hope scored just three goals for Carlisle this season but only needed 45 minutes to open his Swindon account, tapping in from close range.
Vale were restricted to two shots on goal in an afternoon to forget for John Askey’s side. The icing on the cake for Swindon came on 60 minutes courtesy of Michael Doughty’s superb curling free-kick. Kaiyne Woolery should’ve made it 4-0 less than five minutes later, only for his left-footed effort to strike the post.
Swindon extend their lead to two points following Exeter City’s goalless draw at home to Colchester United. Vale remain in tenth and five points off a playoff place.
The Robins have two tough upcoming games, with a visit to Colchester followed by a huge encounter at home to second place Exeter. Vale also face the Grecians in midweek, followed by another home game against mid-table Salford City.
Silkmen come from behind to earn first victory under Kennedy
Macclesfield came from a goal down to beat Forest Green Rovers to give Mark Kennedy his first win in charge.
Carl Winchester fired the visitors into the lead on 18 minutes with a low, driven strike from 25 yards. Jevani Brown should’ve doubled the lead for Rovers when played clean through but his effort sailed wide of the goal.
Corey O’Keeffe fouled Josh March in the penalty box on 47 minutes, but March failed to convert. The visitors were made to rue their missed chances when Joe Ironside equalised on 74 minutes with O’Keeffe shown a straight red six minutes later. Arthur Gnahoua’s sensational strike on 83 minutes completed the comeback for the Silkmen.
The victory moves Macclesfield six points clear of Stevenage whilst keeping close to the mid-table pack. Forest Green remain two points off a playoff place despite winning only one of their last five league games.
Kennedy will be hoping for a first away victory in midweek at Newport County before hosting Northampton Town on Saturday. Forest Green will aim to move into the playoffs with games at home to Carlisle United and away to Grimsby Town.
Orient rename stand in Justin Edinburgh’s honour before beating Newport
Leyton Orient honoured former head coach Justin Edinburgh by renaming the West Stand at the Breyer Group Stadium ahead of their game with Newport County. The Os would claim just their second victory in their last 12 games to end Newport’s mini-resurgence.
County had to make two changes before kick-off with Joss Labadie and Ryan Inniss replaced by Matt Dolan and Robbie Willmott. Dolan had Newport’s best opportunity in the first half with his free-kick saved by goalkeeper Sam Sargeant. Exiles’ goalkeeper Tom King tipped over Ousseynou Cisse’s looping effort in a half dominated by Orient.
Orient continued to create chances although Jamille Matt nearly punished the hosts as he mistimed a close-range header. The hosts deservedly took the lead with 10 minutes left after Ryan Haynes headed Craig Clay’s corner into his own net. Ruel Sotiriou sealed the victory for Orient nine minutes later before Matt scored a consolation deep into injury time.
The Os move up to 18th and are nine points clear of the relegation zone after their first victory in six games. Newport stay 11th as their four-game unbeaten run comes to end.
Orient will be on their travels this week against teams at opposite ends of the table with a visit to Stevenage following a midweek clash with Crewe Alexandra. Newport also face opposition with contrasting fortunes as they host Macclesfield before visiting Plymouth.
Mansfield brush aside Bradford to record first home win since October
Mansfield Town earned just their third home success of the season, and the first under Graham Coughlan, with a deserved 3-0 win over Bradford City.
The victory was also Coughlan’s first clean sheet in charge as the visitors rarely tested goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik. Danny Rose opened the scoring on seven minutes after he met Alex MacDonald’s cross with a looping header. Mansfield continued to create chances and Nicky Maynard doubled their lead as he headed home his 13th goal of the season.
Olejnik handled a backpass on 63 minutes but the attempt from Eoin Doyle came to nothing. The League Two top scorer is still yet to score since returning from his loan spell at Swindon. Andy Cook completed the scoring on 77 minutes with a low right-footed strike in a memorable afternoon for Coughlan’s side.
Mansfield move up a place to 18th after ending a run of three consecutive defeats. The Bantams have had a torrid start to the new year but remain in the playoffs despite a run of one win in six games.
The Stags have the chance to pull further away from danger as they face fellow strugglers Oldham Athletic away and Carlisle United at home. Bradford also visit Oldham after a pivotal midweek clash at home to playoff rivals Cheltenham Town.
Matchday 29 results:
Carlisle United 2-1 Walsall
Crawley Town 3-2 Grimsby Town
Exeter City 0-0 Colchester United
Leyton Orient 2-1 Newport County
Macclesfield Town 2-1 Forest Green Rovers
Mansfield Town 3-0 Bradford City
Morecambe 1-1 Cambridge United
Salford City 1-1 Oldham Athletic
Scunthorpe United 2-2 Crewe Alexandra
Stevenage 1-2 Plymouth Argyle
Swindon Town 3-0 Port Vale