The end of another busy week in League Two saw teams play their third game in seven days. After plenty of drama in midweek, the excitement continued going into matchday five with new leaders, plenty of goals and red cards while one team is still yet to score a goal.
New leaders for the fourth time in five games
Exeter City are one of just two teams that remain unbeaten after a dramatic 3-2 away at Morecambe. The Grecians are starting to become late goal specialists with three of their six goals being in the last five minutes, with each of them proving to be the winner.
It appeared that Exeter were on course for a comfortable victory after racing into a 2-0 lead inside 25 minutes. Captain Jake Taylor opened his account for the campaign on 21 minutes with a cool, low finish before midfielder Lee Martin doubled the advantage four minutes later. Exeter thought they added a third on the stroke of half-time, but Dean Moxey’s header took a deflection off a teammate and was ruled out for offside.
Morecambe pulled a goal back deep into first-half injury time with a powerful 25-yard shot from Lewis Alessandra. Exeter were left to rue their missed chances in the second half as Alessandra grabbed his second on 63 minutes.
Exeter have adopted a ‘never say die’ attitude, and that came into full effect on 85 minutes when Nicky Law capitalised on some poor defending to slot past Barry Roche. Morecambe’s Sam Lavelle was shown a second yellow card in added time for tripping Ryan Bowman.
With three wins and two draws Exeter are now the fourth different team to sit at the top of League Two after just five games. They’ll be looking to extend their unbeaten run when they host Mansfield Town this Saturday. Morecambe face a tough trip away to Swindon Town.
Plymouth’s Antoni Sarcevic has an eventful eight-minute cameo
Plymouth Argyle’s lightning start appeared to be stuttering after a 1-0 defeat away to Newport County and a 2-2 draw at home to Salford City in midweek.
Argyle got off to a fast start at home to Walsall courtesy of Ryan Taylor’s close-range finish on 13 minutes. Injuries are a concern for Ryan Lowe’s side, with Dominic Telford going off after 26 minutes, joining fellow strikers Joel Grant and Byron Moore on the sidelines.
The second half was more of an even affair with Walsall striker Elijah Adebayo forcing goalkeeper Alex Palmer to make two important saves. The complexion of the game would change in the final 10 minutes with Antoni Sarcevic playing a key role.
Sarcevic would score Argyle’s second on 82 minutes, five minutes after coming on as a substitute. His game would end three minutes later as he was shown a straight red for a mistimed tackle on Walsall’s Stuart Sinclair. Argyle would add a third despite the numerical advantage, with Taylor pouncing on some poor defending to fire a powerful half-volley. A comfortable afternoon for Argyle who move into second, a point behind their fierce rivals Exeter City.
Taylor’s brace were his first goals in any competition for Argyle since a 2-1 victory against Peterborough United in April 2018. A run spanning 42 matches which he’ll be surely glad to put behind him. The Green Army will be hoping he can add to his tally when they travel to Northampton Town this Saturday. Walsall will be looking to stop their slide down the table when they host Grimsby Town.
Forest Green leave it very late to complete West Country top three
One of the more anticipated games was at Valley Parade, where unbeaten Bradford City hosted playoff-chasing Forest Green Rovers. What followed was a hard-fought, scrappy game that came to life in the final seconds.
Chances were admittedly at a premium for both sides in the first half. James Vaughan and Jordan Gibson came close for the hosts, while Forest Green’s best chance was a Joseph Mills free-kick that goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell did well to stop.
Bradford had opportunities to open the scoring in the second half with Clayton Donaldson’s header on 77 minutes saved by Joe Wollacott. Forest Green then managed to take all three points courtesy of a Mills header deep into injury time.
In a bad-tempered game, 10 players were cautioned including Forest Green defender Matt Mills who was shown a second yellow card eight minutes into injury time. Bradford defender Kelvin Mellor then thought he rescued a point, only to be ruled offside.
Bradford’s unbeaten start to the season comes to an end, and they’ll hope to get back on track when they face Crewe Alexandra. The late win sees Forest Green move into third, just behind Westcountry rivals Exeter City and Plymouth Argyle. Rovers’ next game sees them looking to end another unbeaten record as Newport County come to the New Lawn.
Grimsby Town dismantle Port Vale with five-star performance
Grimsby Town have had a mixed start to the League Two season. A 2-0 win away at Morecambe was followed by a run of two draws and a defeat. Port Vale were the visitors to Blundell Park and were unbeaten after one win and three draws.
The first half wasn’t the most exciting affair, with chances a rarity for both sides. The first real opportunity resulted in Port Vale taking the lead on 13 minutes courtesy of an own goal from Elliott Whitehouse. The Mariners equalised seven minutes later when Jordan Cook’s clever, low free-kick outsmarted Vale’s defence.
Few would’ve predicted the outcome of the second half. Two quickfire goals from Moses Ogbu and Matt Green put Grimsby seemingly out of sight by the hour mark. Nathan Smith reduced the deficit just after the hour mark, only for Luke Waterfall’s powerful header on 80 minutes to restore the host’s two-goal advantage. Striker James Hanson then added insult to injury on 86 minutes to seal an emphatic 5-2 win.
A five-star performance from Grimsby and they’ll look to continue in the same vein when they travel to Walsall this Saturday. Port Vale will be hoping to bounce back from their first defeat of the season when they host Cambridge United.
Stevenage still yet to score a goal
It hasn’t been the most enjoyable of starts for Stevenage. Winless and goalless, only goal difference stopped them from being bottom of the EFL before they travelled to Mansfield Town. Those records didn’t come to an end, but they did get an encouraging draw at Field Mill.
Mansfield were without a win at home since February, and they would’ve seen this as the perfect opportunity to change that statistic. However, they were left frustrated by a resolute Stevenage side despite creating numerous chances.
The visitors squandered a rare opportunity on 13 minutes when Paul Taylor’s shot was stopped by Mansfield goalkeeper Conrad Logan. The Stags thought they took the lead on 36 minutes, but Ryan Sweeney’s close-range effort was disallowed.
The second half continued Mansfield’s dominance with Mal Benning hitting the side netting with an angled shot. Otis Khan and Danny Rose also had efforts denied by Stevenage goalkeeper Paul Farman as Mansfield’s frustrations grew.
The travelling visitors breathed a sigh of relief as their defence dug deep to hang on for a goalless draw. A respectable point, but no win and no goals in five games is sure to raise some concerns. Stevenage remain in the relegation places and will be looking to kick-start their season at home to high-flying Macclesfield Town. After a stuttering start, Mansfield face a tough task as they travel to league leaders Exeter City.
Matchday Five results:
Bradford City 0-1 Forest Green Rovers
Cambridge United 1-2 Oldham Athletic
Carlisle United 2-2 Salford City
Cheltenham Town 2-2 Swindon Town
Colchester United 1-0 Northampton Town
Grimsby Town 5-2 Port Vale
Leyton Orient 2-3 Crawley Town
Macclesfield Town 1-0 Scunthorpe United
Mansfield Town 0-0 Stevenage
Morecambe 2-3 Exeter City
Newport County 1-0 Crewe Alexandra
Plymouth Argyle 3-0 Walsall