League Two Review – Week 21

With just a handful of matches yet to be played, Sky Bet League Two is as open as ever as the race for the title heated up last weekend.

Exeter City’s fine victory over Cambridge United on Saturday opened the door for Cheltenham Town to return to pole position in the division; which they did with a 1-0 win over Leyton Orient. Orient were looking for their first win at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium in 12 years, but the only goal of the game came from the penalty spot when Conor Thomas converted shortly before the break. Cheltenham’s advantage sits at just one point, but, with a game in hand over their rivals, it is a favourable position for Michael Duff’s side.

Hot on the tails of the top two, Bolton Wanderers returned to the automatic promotion spots with a 2-1 win over Harrogate Town. Harrogate, who are now without a win in the last six, went ahead within 13 minutes through Mark Beck. The Sulphurites held the lead through to halftime but fell under the cosh in the second period as Bolton turned on the style. Eoin Doyle grabbed the winner 12 minutes from time, lifting his tally for the season to 17. The Trotters are five points off the lead.

Further down the table, Port Vale notched up their sixth successive league win for the first time since March 1996 after beating Morecambe 1-0. The match was goalless when proceedings were halted in the 28th minute due to a biblical snowstorm which rendered the pitch unplayable. Thanks to breathless work from the ground staff, the players re-emerged 45 minutes later to a clear playing surface and the tie resumed.

Within 10 minutes of the restart, Vale scored what would transpire to be the game’s sole goal as Nathan Smith nodded home a smart cross from a Tom Conlon free-kick. The Valiants’ splendid form leaves them with just an eight-point deficit to the playoffs, while fifth-placed Morecambe lost ground on clubs either side of them.

Things are looking bleak again in Lincolnshire as Grimsby Town fell to their first defeat in nine matches after being beaten on the road against Bradford City. Bradford defender Anthony O’Connor scored the only goal just before halftime, but the big story came from the Mariners’ dressing room over the break as Stefan Payne was dismissed for a headbutt on teammate Filipe Morais.

Off the pitch, Southend United parted ways with ex-Grecian Mark Molesley after just shy of eight months in charge. 61-year-old Phil Brown was installed at the helm on April 9, and, within 24 hours, Brown had earned a point for the Shrimpers as a result of a goalless draw with Crawley Town.

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