August is in the history books for the 2019/20 League Two campaign. It’s been a busy month with teams negotiating transfers along with playing six league games and the Carabao Cup. Are teams already starting to feel the demands, and who is going from strength-to-strength?
Exeter extend lead at the top of League Two
Exeter City moved to the top of League Two last week after a dramatic 3-2 victory away at Morecambe. This week they entertained Mansfield Town in a game that many thought would be Exeter’s toughest test of the season.
Ryan Bowman capitalised on some poor defending to score what would be the winning goal after just five minutes as he flashed a powerful shot past Conrad Logan. Exeter almost doubled their lead late in the first half when Bowman hit the post.
Chances were a rare commodity for the Stags in the second half, with substitute Omari Sterling-James coming closest with a shot that narrowly went wide. The hosts hit the woodwork again when captain Jake Taylor’s volley rattled the crossbar.
A poor afternoon for Mansfield was made even worse in the 86th minute when defender Ryan Sweeney was sent off after being adjudged to have elbowed Bowman. The Stags have since appealed the decision, with no confirmation of the outcome as of writing.
Despite the narrow margin, Exeter deserved their victory and should’ve won by more. Mansfield continue to drop down the table as their poor start continues. Exeter will hope to extend their unbeaten start to the season but face a long trip away to Carlisle United while Mansfield host bottom-of-the-table Scunthorpe United.
Newport County remain unbeaten
Newport County moved into second place after beating Forest Green Rovers 2-0 at The New Lawn. There seems to be no hangover from losing last season’s playoff final as Newport remain unbeaten along with league leaders Exeter City.
Forest Green goalkeeper Joe Wollacott had a game to forget as he was caught out in possession by Josh Sheehan who played in Padraig Amond for the opener after four minutes. Wollacott’s misery was compounded after 28 minutes when he was sent off for bringing down Tristan Abrahams.
The hosts came close to equalising in the second half after a curling free-kick from Joseph Mills was parried away. That was as good as it got for Forest Green as Ryan Haynes sealed the win for Newport in injury time with a long-ranged effort.
Newport move into second place, just two points behind Exeter. After sealing their first away win of the season, the Exiles return to Rodney Parade this Saturday as they host Port Vale. Forest Green will look to bounce back at home to out-of-form Cambridge United.
Plymouth deservedly beaten away at Northampton
Plymouth Argyle started matchday six in second place and a point behind their fierce Devon rivals, Exeter City. They couldn’t afford to slip up away to Northampton Town, but that’s exactly what they did.
Northampton would earn a deserved 3-1 victory, with the goals coming in the first half. Ryan Watson converted a penalty for the hosts after seven minutes following a handball from Callum McFadzean.
Plymouth equalised three minutes later when Joe Riley scored his first goal for the club with a low free-kick. Hoskins played a pivotal part in Northampton regaining the lead in the 21st minute after his curling cross was met by Andy Williams. It could’ve been three soon after only for the woodwork to deny a free-kick from Nicky Adams.
Northampton got their third just before half-time with Hoskins once again setting up Williams. The bounce of the volley from Williams clearly did enough to fool Plymouth goalkeeper Alex Palmer.
Plymouth created very little in the second half with Byron Moore’s close-range effort going way above the crossbar. Northampton looked comfortable and held for just their second win of the season, and their first at home.
Plymouth dropped to sixth, and they’ll be hoping to get back on track at home to struggling Oldham Athletic. With their first home win finally sealed, Northampton will look to move further up the table when they travel to Bradford City.
Walsall’s slide down the table continues
The relegated teams from League One have had mixed campaigns. Walsall looked like they were adapting well under new manager Darrell Clarke after an opening day victory at Northampton but have since gone on a four-match winless run. That would extend to five after a 3-1 defeat at home to in-form Grimsby Town.
The Saddlers took the lead after five minutes when Caolan Lavery poked home from close range following a goalmouth scramble. Walsall goalkeeper Liam Roberts made a mistake dealing with a corner in the 41st minute allowing Elliot Whitehouse to head home.
Grimsby took full control in the second half with a double from James Hanson sealing the victory. His first was a towering header after 68 minutes before he converted from the penalty spot with 10 minutes remaining.
Hanson’s brace takes his tally to five goals, making him the joint top goal scorer along with Mansfield’s Danny Rose. Walsall slide to 21st and have only scored three goals all season.
This Saturday sees fourth versus third as Grimsby host Crewe Alexandra while Walsall travel to Colchester United.
Are Salford becoming draw specialists?
It hasn’t been the start that Salford City were expecting in their debut season in the EFL. The newly promoted side had lost only one of their first five games prior to matchday six, but they haven’t won since the opening day. Every division has their ‘draw specialists’ and it’s looking like the Ammies are taking the honours in League Two.
After three consecutive draws, Salford were hoping to change their recent run at home to fellow newly promoted side Leyton Orient. Spoiler alert: Salford drew again.
The Ammies took the lead in the 17th minute when Richie Towell struck a left-footed half-volley to perfection, with the ball crashing off the far post and in. Salford controlled the first half, with Emmanuel Dieseruvwe’s header tipped onto the crossbar.
Towell’s first goal for Salford was memorable, and it looked like sealing all three points until the 87th minute. James Brophy’s commanding run resulted in a low shot that was back-heeled into his own goal by goalkeeper Chris Neal.
Despite extending their unbeaten run to four games, Salford still haven’t won since their opening day success over Stevenage. The Ammies will be hoping to secure their first ever EFL away victory this Saturday against Morecambe while Leyton Orient host Swindon Town.
Matchday six results:
Crawley Town 1-0 Cheltenham Town
Crewe Alexandra 2-1 Bradford City
Exeter City 1-0 Mansfield Town
Forest Green Rovers 0-2 Newport County
Northampton Town 3-1 Plymouth Argyle
Oldham Athletic 0-1 Colchester United
Port Vale 1-0 Cambridge United
Salford City 1-1 Leyton Orient
Scunthorpe United 0-1 Carlisle United
Stevenage 2-2 Macclesfield Town
Swindon Town 3-1 Morecambe
Walsall 1-3 Grimsby Town