On the weekend that Exeter City made the 700-mile-round trip to Carlisle United’s Brunton Park, the race for automatic promotion from Sky Bet League Two opened up as seven teams moved into mathematical contention.

Southend United fell to a fourth straight defeat on Saturday as a five-star Port Vale showing saw Mark Molesley’s side receive a 5-1 battering at Vale Park. Devante Rodney starred for the hosts with his first double of the season, bringing his tally up to nine. The Valiants led within a minute and were four to the good at halftime. United continue to sit at the foot of the standings, with just five wins to their name and a 27-goal deficit.

Grimsby Town, also in the relegation zone, fell to their sixth loss in eight matches after an injury time winner handed Stevenage a 2-1 victory.

Harrogate Town beat Newport County for the first time in history after coming from behind. Suffering an early setback by way of a strike from Maltese international Luke Gambin, the Sulphurites bounced back by plundering County’s goal and recorded a total of 17 shots.

Josh March and Aaron Martin converted either side of halftime to give Harrogate their first win of the calendar year. The final nail was hammered into Newport’s coffin as Liam Shephard was given his marching orders late in the tie.

Harry Kewell was named manager of the week after his Oldham Athletic side stole a victory over Salford City right at the death. Having fallen behind within 10 minutes at Boundary Park, a stunning second half earned the Latics their second consecutive home win. Dylan Bahamboula equalised with 15 minutes still on the clock, before second-half substitute Davis Keillor-Dunn netted an injury time winner.

Oldham remain the only League Two club yet to keep a clean sheet this term.

Morecambe were beaten at home for the first time in nine league matches by Tranmere Rovers. The Shrimps had been unbeaten in eight, their best run since going 10 without defeat between October 2012 and January 2013. Kaiyne Woolery scored the only goal of the game for the Super White Army, which was his second in as many appearances.

Cambridge United continued their tenure at the top after a 3-1 victory over Crawley Town. 38-year-old former-Premier League midfielder Wes Hoolahan assisted Joe Ironside’s 10th goal of the campaign before adding his name to the scoresheet to seal the tie. United sit just three points clear of Carlisle, but the second-placed Cumbrians have four matches to hand.

Cambridge talisman Paul Mullin drew a blank for the fifth match in succession, but still leads the way in the top-scoring charts with 18 goals and three assists to his name.