The 2019/20 League Two season is now in full swing as we approach the end of August. This week saw changes to the complexion of the league table after the first midweek round of games. As this is a double-header special, the focus will be on what impact these two quick-fire games have had on teams at both ends of the division.
Scunthorpe’s nightmare start continues
Scunthorpe United have certainly provided some entertaining encounters so far this season, but unfortunately for their fans, they’ve come out without a victory each time.
After losing their opening two games, it looked like Paul Hurst would finally get his first win in charge against Crawley Town after coming from a goal down to lead. However, a Nathan Ferguson equaliser on 74 minutes meant that they had to settle for a 2-2 draw. That result lifted them off the foot of the table, but not for long.
The prospect of a first win of the season away at Cambridge United appeared impossible after James Perch was sent off on 21 minutes. Scunthorpe would take the lead late in the first half thanks to a header from defender Rory McArdle, his third goal in two games.
Within three second-half minutes, Scunthorpe were behind thanks to Harvey Knibbs and Paul Lewis. McArdle would grab an unlikely brace on the hour with another header, but Cambridge’s dominance paid off as Lewis scored the winning goal on 73 minutes.
Scunthorpe were sent back to the bottom of the EFL after Oldham Athletic drew at home to Exeter City. They’ll hope to improve their fortunes this Saturday away at Macclesfield Town.
Bottom on the opening day, top of the league three games later
Crewe Alexandra were rooted to the bottom of the EFL on the opening day after a 3-0 defeat at home to Plymouth Argyle.
Three games later and Crewe are now top of League Two after victories over Walsall and Crawley Town. Even the most optimistic of Crewe fans wouldn’t have predicted them rising up the league so quickly.
A rare goal from defender Eddie Nolan was enough to earn a 1-0 win at home to Walsall. The one negative was Oliver Lancashire’s late sending after an off-the-ball incident with Walsall striker Elijah Adebayo.
Crewe’s midweek trip to Crawley Town looked like being a long evening when Bez Lubala opened the scoring on 16 minutes. However, the visitors controlled most of the game and deservedly equalised on 30 minutes thanks to Ben Wintle. The comeback was complete early in the second half courtesy of a close-range header from Paul Green.
League Two is so tightly contested this season and Crewe could drop as low as 12th if they lose away at Newport County this Saturday and other results go against them.
Are Bradford finally living up to pre-season expectations?
Bradford had a frustrating start to the season after drawing their opening two games. Fast forward a further two games and two consecutive wins has seen them jump into the automatic promotion places.
Bradford secured their first win of the season after beating Oldham Athletic 3-0 at Valley Parade. Captain James Vaughan scored his first goal for the Bantams after 4 minutes and his strike partner Clayton Donaldson added a second just after half an hour. Veteran midfielder Sean Scannell completed the scoring on 72 minutes in-front of over 14,000 delighted home fans.
Tuesday nights visit to Stevenage wasn’t as straightforward, and it was luck that secured Bradford’s second victory in three days. Stevenage midfielder Tom Soares scored the only goal on 42 minutes as he guided Connor Wood’s cross into his own net. Goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell was responsible for many saves in the second half to ensure Bradford’s hard-fought win.
Bradford will look to become league leaders this Saturday but face a tough game at home to Forest Green Rovers.
Cambridge go from goalless and winless to third
Cambridge United fans certainly didn’t have the most entertaining opening two games to the season, with consecutive 0-0 draws. There were signs that Cambridge were edging closer to their first goal, but few would’ve expected their sudden change in form.
Cambridge have gone from winless and goalless to picking up two consecutive wins. A dramatic 3-2 win over Scunthorpe United on Tuesday extended their unbeaten start, but the highlight was the victory away at Colchester United on Saturday.
Colchester away is always a difficult task, but Cambridge rose to the occasion for their first win of the season. The hosts took the lead with an early Luke Norris penalty, but couldn’t add to their advantage despite controlling the first half.
Cambridge capitalised on Colchester’s missed chances and equalised early in the second half courtesy of 38-year-old striker Marc Richards. With four minutes remaining, midfielder Harry Darling scored his first professional goal with an acrobatic effort to send the travelling fans into raptures.
The new-found optimism at the Abbey Stadium will look to continue this Saturday when Cambridge host struggling Oldham Athletic.
Macclesfield have mixed start under new management
Macclesfield Town parted company with manager Sol Campbell last Thursday, making him the first EFL managerial departure this season. Campbell took over in November and guided the Silkmen to League Two safety on the final day of last season. While the reason for Campbell’s departure is unknown, the off-field problems at Macclesfield are likely to have played a factor.
On the pitch, Macclesfield have had a mixed start to life after Campbell with a victory and a defeat. Danny Whitaker was in temporary charge as the Silkmen came from behind to win 2-1 away at Northampton Town.
Ben Stephens opened the scoring for the visitors just before half-time getting on the end of Theo Archibald’s through ball. Jordan Turnbull equalised for Northampton with just under 20 minutes remaining, but the visitors would steal the victory in added time courtesy of Archibald.
The feeling of euphoria after Saturday’s win quickly disappeared following a frustrating 1-0 loss at home to Morecambe. Former Ebbsfleet United manager Daryl McMahon took charge of his first game for the Silkmen since being appointed permanent manager on Monday. Macclesfield controlled the game and created numerous chances, but Morecambe’s Richie Sutton scored the only goal on 64 minutes. Not the result that McMahon would’ve wanted, but the performance offered encouraging signs for the rest of the season.
McMahon will be hoping to secure his first points as Macclesfield manager this Saturday at home to Scunthorpe United.
Elsewhere on Matchday 3 – Saturday 17th August:
Carlisle United 0-2 Mansfield Town
Exeter City 1-1 Swindon Town
Forest Green Rovers 1-0 Grimsby Town
Leyton Orient 0-0 Stevenage
Morecambe 0-0 Cheltenham Town
Newport County 1-0 Plymouth Argyle
Salford City 1-1 Port Vale
Elsewhere on Matchday 4 – Tuesday 20th August:
Cheltenham Town 2-0 Carlisle United
Grimsby Town 2-2 Colchester United
Mansfield Town 2-3 Leyton Orient
Oldham Athletic 0-0 Exeter City
Plymouth Argyle 2-2 Salford City
Port Vale 2-1 Forest Green Rovers
Swindon Town 0-1 Northampton Town
Walsall 0-0 Newport County