Saturday 24th March
It was big weekend in the Blue Square Premier as many of the top teams in the top half of the table faced off against each other.
Fleetwood have recently shown that it is more advantageous to have points on the board than games in hand and put all the pressure onto chasing Wrexham after Saturday’s games. Fleetwood managed to put an end to Mansfield’s recent excellent run at Highbury with a 2-0 win against the Stags. Jamie Vardy’s 31st goal of the season and Shaun Beely got the all important goals that gave the Cod Army a nine point lead over the second placed Wrexham after the long time league leaders dropped three vital points at home to Forest Green. Jake Speight put the Dragons ahead but second half goals from Matt Taylor and James Norwood earned the visitors a 2-1 victory.
Southport strengthened their place in the top five with a fine 2-1 win away at York City. After a goalless fist half, two quick goals from Andy Owens and Tony Gray saw the away side take what proved to be an unassailable lead, with Jamie Reed clawing back a late consolation, after seeing an earlier effort ruled out for offside. Luton kept up the pace on the play offs despite dropping points at home to ninth placed Grimsby. Andre Gray put the Hatters ahead, but a late equalizer Kiernan Hughes-Mason made sure the points were shared. Kidderminster stayed, as they have been for most of the season, ready to pounce into the play offs if teams start dropping points after they beat struggling Darlington 3-1 at home. The Quakers took the lead through Ryan Bowman, but Dave Hankin, Anthony Malbon and Ryan Rowe’s late third won the day for the home side.
Gateshead stayed in with a shout of the top places after drawing 1-1 away at Tamworth. Jon Shaw put the Tynesiders ahead but Jean – Paul Marna’s penalty just before half time secured a point. Alfreton moved seven points clear of relegation with a decent 2-1 win at home to Cambridge United. A Jonathon Thorpe own goal put the home side ahead in the first minute before an Andy Pugh penalty left the scores level at half time. Anthony Wilson scored the all-important goal for Alfreton as their impressive recent run left them with a good chance of being safe at the end of the season. Barrow lost heavily for the second game in a row losing 0-4 at home to Braintree. Aswad Thomas, Jai Reason and Ben Wright put Braintree in a commanding position at half time and Jamie Guy added a fourth in injury time as Barrow faced mid table finish after briefly chasing a play off place.
Ricky Shakes scored the only goal as Ebbsfleet beat Kettering 1-0, ending the Fleet’s own bad run whilst pushing Kettering closer to relegation. Stockport eased their relegation worries while adding to bottom club Bath City’s problems with a convincing 4-0 win at Edgeley Park. Danny Hattersley, a brace from Tom Elliott and Carl Piergianni scored the goals that gave the home side a four-point breathing space at the wrong end of the table. Hayes & Yeading missed out on vital points as they stayed in the drop zone after a goalless draw against fellow strugglers Telford. Lincoln beat Newport in another battle of the struggling teams and gave themselves some space from the bottom four. Marc McCammon and John Nutter scored first half goals to give them some hope as the season draws to a close.
Tuesday 27th March
Tuesday night gave Wrexham the chance to close the gap on leaders Fleetwood, and they did just that, with an impressive showing at Darlington. Wrexham took the lead with goals from Jake Speight and Nathaniel Knight Percival but Adam Rundle and Ryan Bowman brought the game all square again. Two late goals from Mathias Pogba and a second from Speight closed the gap to the top to just six points, with a game in hand. Southport stayed fourth despite playing out an uneventful goalless draw away at Braintree. York climbed back into play off contention with a 1-0 win away at Bath City thanks to Patrick McLaughlin’s 50th minute winner. Grimsby ended the night just three points from the top five after a 1-1 draw away at Tamworth. Liam Hearn put the visitors ahead but the lead didn’t last long as Connor Taylor’s equalizer earned the hosts a point.
Telford’s fine 2-0 win at home to Forest Green moved them away from the bottom four and gave them a good staying up. Two goals from Chris Sharp earned the points at the New Buck Stadium. Alfreton came from behind to move ten points from the relegation area after a 2-1 win away at Ebbsfleet. Liam Enver Marum put Ebbsfleet ahead, but a goal either side of half time from Adam Cunnington and Josh Law won the points that should keep them safely in the BSP for next season. Five busy minutes were enough to sort out the game between Hayes & Yeading and Lincoln. Jefferson Louis put the Imps ahead but Hayes were soon level through Pedro Pele, although parity only lasted three minutes before Tom Miller won the day for Lincoln.
With the season reaching an exciting climax, the run in does look like there will be the opportunities for points to be won and lost. The game that stands out is on April 10th when the top two face off at High bury, a game that could easily decide the title, although both teams face tough games in the run in.
Saturday 31st March
Having already guaranteed a place in the play offs, Fleetwood took a massive step towards winning the title with a comfortable 4-1 win away at Bath City. The bottom placed side never threatened to derail Fleetwood’s run towards the title. Jamie Vardy, Peter Cavanagh, an Andy Gallinagh own goal and Richard Brodie put the visitors four goals up before a late consolation from Adam Connolly. Fleetwood moved eight points clear of nearest rivals Wrexham after the Dragons managed to escape the Abbey Stadium with a point after Robert Ogleby’s last minute strike equalized Tom Shaw’s goal which had earlier put Cambridge ahead. With Wrexham still having a game in hand on their title rivals, the April 10th clash between the top two looks better and better the closer it gets.
Mansfield consolidated third place with a late goal from Matt Green giving them a 1-0 win in a tight game against mid table Ebbsfleet. York, in fourth, now have two games in hand on Mansfield after not playing yesterday, just as they do on Southport, who stayed in the top five despite losing at home to Hayes & Yeading, a vital victory for the visitors in their relegation battle. A penalty from Jamie Hand had put the away side ahead until another penalty this time from Southport’s Andy Gray leveled things up, It was left to Julian Owusu to score in injury time to move Hayes to within a point of getting out of the bottom four.
Kidderminster came from behind to keep their hopes of reaching the top five with a 2-1 win at Grimsby Town. Andrew Wright put the hosts ahead just before the break and it was goals from Anthony Malbon and Ryan Rowe with an injury time winner made sure the Harriers stayed in the hunt and made things more difficult for Grimsby to achieve the same. Gateshead also faltered in the race to be involved post season with a 1-0 loss away at Newport that kept the Exiles just outside the relegation zone. A single goal from Ryan Charles was enough to secure the points at Spytty Park. Forest Green added to Barrows recent woes with a comfortable 3-0 win at home against the Bluebirds. After a goalless first half, it was a second half hat trick from Yan Klukowski that secured the points for the home side and sent the visitors to their sixth consecutive defeat.
Alfreton’s fine recent run continued as they beat Braintree 2-1 away from home. Alfreton took the lead through Adam Cunnington before Billy Gibson equalized for the hosts. A second half winner from Anton Brown gained the three points that should now see the visitors safe from relegation. Lincoln beat Tamworth 4-0 to their bid for safety the world of good. Tamworth’s Danny Thomas had the misfortune to score not one but two own goals along with goals from Peter Bore and a penalty from Alan Power improved the Imps to seventeenth after their third win in a row.
Telford and Darlington shared six goals in an entertaining match that didn’t do much to help either sides relegation worries. Chris Sharp put the hosts ahead before Drewe Broughton and Ryan Bowman swung the game in Darlington’s favour. Richard Davies and Phil Trainer again put Telford back in the driving seat. Danny Lambert scored the final goal of the see saw match to end the game level.
The final match of the day saw Stockport add to Kettering problems and put themselves in a better position for safety with a 3-1 away win at Kettering. Danny Chatterley and Sean Newton put the visitors in a commanding two goal lead at half time, before Ashley Westwood pulled a goal back for Kettering, but it was a false hope as Cameron Darkwah pounced in the last minute to make sure of the points for the Hatters.