Another week of League Two action saw twists and turns at the top of the table. While the bottom of the table might be more conclusive, that hasn’t stopped the league’s bottom side making headlines once again. Let’s have a look at the talking points from another thrilling round of League Two action.
Graham Westley leaves Stevenage… again!
It has been a season to forget at Stevenage with the Hertfordshire club adrift at the bottom of League Two. Graham Westley was brought in for his fourth spell at the helm in December but six straight league defeats resulted in his resignation 24 hours after last week’s 1-0 loss to Salford City. Former Stevenage striker Alex Revell has been placed in charge for the final 12 games of the season, and the prospect of relegation is growing with each game.
A visit to Crawley Town was never going to be easy, considering they’ve been unbeaten on their turf since November. The hosts dominated the first half and had an early effort from Ashley Nadesan ruled out for offside. Crawley made the breakthrough on 21 minutes courtesy of a perfectly-timed, low volley from Bez Lubala.
Charlie Carter’s effort flashed over the crossbar in a rare effort for Stevenage after the interval. The visitors had a rare slick of luck after Antonio German’s effort struck the post before landing in the hands of goalkeeper Paul Farman. Crawley’s victory was eventually sealed deep into added time thanks to a composed finish from Nadesan.
Revell has a near-impossible task with Stevenage now eight points from safety following a run of just one victory in their last 13 league games. For Crawley, they move into the top half of the table after their first win in three league games.
Stevenage’s next game sees them host mid-table Walsall while Crawley travel to promotion-chasing Exeter City.
Exeter remain in top three despite slip-up at Cobblers
Exeter City moved back into the automatic promotion places last week after three consecutive victories. However, that run would come to an end against Northampton Town who were looking to resume their playoff charge.
The Grecians made the worst possible start at Sixfields as Vadaine Oliver fired Northampton into the lead after just 54 seconds. Exeter had plenty of possession but struggled to create clear-cut chances and were fortunate to not be further behind after Ryan Watson’s effort bounced off the post.
The second-half continued in the same pattern of Exeter having possession with Northampton posing a greater attacking threat. The Cobblers were awarded a penalty with less than 10 minutes remaining after Callum Morton was tripped by Pierce Sweeney. Sam Hoskins sent goalkeeper Lewis Ward the wrong way to give Northampton all three points.
The defeat sees Exeter slip to third, but crucially still in the automatic promotion places after Plymouth Argyle could only draw against Cambridge United. Northampton move back into the playoff places after ending a run of three consecutive league defeats.
The Cobblers have two away games this week, with a potentially pivotal encounter at fifth-place Cheltenham Town in midweek followed by a trip to Grimsby Town.
Crewe beat Cheshire rivals to replace Grecians into second
Crewe Alexandra capitalised on Exeter’s defeat to move back into second after a 2-0 victory over Cheshire rivals Macclesfield Town.
The victory was far from straightforward although the damage was done in the first half. Fraser Horsfall tripped Perry Ng to give the hosts an 11th minute penalty which was duly converted by Chris Porter. Horsfall played a part in Crewe’s second as his weak pass allowed Charlie Kirk to find Stephen Walker with a long-pass to which he slotted the ball into the far corner with a tidy finish.
Walker almost doubled his tally after the interval only for his curling left-footed strike to hit the outside of the far post. The Silkmen almost grabbed a late consolation but goalkeeper Will Jaaskelainen did well to stop Corey O’Keefe’s close-range effort. In the end, the first half goals were enough to seal the Railwaymen’s seventh consecutive home league win.
Crewe maintain the two-point gap behind leaders Swindon Town after their fifth win in six league games. Macclesfield have only won twice in 2020, and that form has seen them slip to second from bottom.
The Railwaymen face another struggling team on Saturday as they visit Morecambe while Macclesfield host Salford City.
Don’t rule Cheltenham out of promotion contention just yet
Cheltenham Town have exceeded all expectations this season as Michael Duff’s side continue to show their promotion ambitions. A narrow victory over Mansfield Town moved the Robins to within six points of the top three.
Both sides played with plenty of ambition going forward without forcing either goalkeeper into many saves. Mansfield’s Nicky Maynard was played through, but goalkeeper Owen Evans did well to dive at the feet of the Stags top goalscorer. The best chance for the Robins fell to Luke Varney but his looping effort just shaved the crossbar.
Reuben Reid has hardly featured for the Robins since joining from local rivals Forest Green Rovers in the summer. However, he’s now proving to be a pivotal part of Cheltenham’s offence at just the right time. He came off the bench to score the winning goal for the third consecutive game on 65 minutes with a towering header.
The Robins stay fifth but can throw themselves into the automatic mix as they have an extra game-in-hand on the teams above them. Although they’re not at risk of relegation, Mansfield will want the season to end quickly as they drop to 21st place.
Cheltenham have two fascinating games against playoff rivals with a visit to Colchester following a rearranged home game against Northampton. The games don’t get easier for Mansfield as they host league leaders Swindon Town.
Vale slip out of playoffs after being pegged back twice by Walsall
Port Vale slipped out of the playoff places after Walsall produced another comeback to earn a point.
Leon Legge’s powerful close-range header gave Vale the lead on 12 minutes but they weren’t ahead for long. Walsall equalised three minutes later after goalkeeper Scott Brown spilled Rory Holden’s strike, allowing Elijah Adebayo to fire in the rebound. The visitors responded well and retook the lead on 36 minutes courtesy of a deflected effort from Scott Burgess.
Last week Walsall produced a remarkable comeback from 2-0 down to beat Northampton. While they couldn’t replicate that feat against Vale, they did level once again just before the hour mark to earn a deserved point. Vale defender Cristian Montano misjudged Adebayo’s low cross, allowing Josh Gordon the space to slot the ball past Brown.
Vale slip to eighth in the table despite extending their unbeaten run to six games. Walsall drop to 14th and are now unbeaten in four games.
The next game for Vale sees them host Scunthorpe United while Walsall travel to Stevenage.
Matchday 35 results:
Carlisle United 2-2 Morecambe
Cheltenham Town 1-0 Mansfield Town
Crawley Town 2-0 Stevenage
Crewe Alexandra 2-0 Macclesfield Town
Leyton Orient 2-2 Oldham Athletic
Newport County 2-1 Bradford City
Northampton Town 2-0 Exeter City
Plymouth Argyle 0-0 Cambridge United
Salford City 1-2 Colchester United
Scunthorpe United 1-0 Forest Green Rovers
Swindon Town 3-1 Grimsby Town
Walsall 2-2 Port Vale