League One State Of Play – Plymouth Hold On To Pole Position

The League One season continued this past weekend, and with not long left to go, teams are clambering to stake their claim to the positions that are still up for grabs. Nothing is confirmed in any sense in the division except for Forest Green Rovers’ relegation to League Two. While the back-and-forth race for promotion continues, there was heartbreak at the opposite end of the table, and there were some upsets. We take a look at the past weekend’s results and what they mean for the table.

At the top, Plymouth recovered from an Easter Monday setback which saw them lose 2-0 to Lincoln City at home. In an evenly fought contest at Exeter, the side struck in the 70th minute through Matt Butcher to take all three points home with them at the expense of their Devonshire rivals. The race for automatic promotion is wide open and has seen plenty of changes between Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday and Plymouth. That result left Exeter in 13th with the side having lost three games in a row now, however, there was not much room to improve or worsen their position in the table.

Taking second place with a statement, Ipswich also suffered a setback on Easter Monday, their run of two months without conceding a goal was put to an end as they drew at Whaddon Road to a resilient Cheltenham Town side. This past weekend they sent out a message that they would not be held back, and they certainly did not hold themselves back as they fired six past Charlton. Conor Chaplin continued his goalscoring form as he netted a hat trick for the Tractor Boys. Ipswich moved up to second with a game in hand over Sheffield Wednesday below them. Meanwhile, Charlton sit in 11th, ahead of Lincoln City on goal difference, who do have a game in hand.

It seemed it was again looking up for Sheffield Wednesday as they finally won on Easter Monday. The Owls had been on a run of six games without a win and they travelled to Burton Albion fresh off a 3-0 win over Accrington Stanley. That momentum was short-lived though, John Brayford struck in the 21st minute for the hosts before Calum Paterson equalised seven minutes later. Mark Helm scored a brace in three minutes shortly after that, and those goals were enough to secure all three points, despite a nervy finish after Michael Smith converted a penalty in the 85th minute. Wednesday fell out of the automatic promotion spots, one point behind Ipswich who have a game in hand. Those three points took Burton to 16th, eight points clear of the relegation zone.

Barnsley are breathing down Sheffield Wednesday’s necks also, they sit three points behind them in fourth and also have a game in hand. They overcame Shrewsbury on Easter Monday and looked to build some momentum up and get some more points on the board. Those three points came at the expense of Forest Green Rovers League One status, as Michael Duff’s side put five past Duncan Ferguson’s men. That defeat officially confirmed what many had seen coming for a long time as Forest Green were relegated to League Two. Ferguson seemed to have an impossible job when he took over and has only picked up one win since taking charge in January, it would not be a surprise to see the former Everton man stay on for next season in League Two.

Bolton Wanderers finally managed to move past Peterborough in the table, the last two play-off places have been a three-way battle between the two clubs and Derby also. Dion Charles’ early goal in the opening 10 minutes was enough for the side to take all three points off of struggling Oxford United. Bolton moved up to fifth in the table with that win, while Oxford still sit in 20th, ahead of local rivals Cambridge United on goal difference. However, the two sides in those positions form will be a cause for concern for Oxford United as Cambridge continued their unbeaten run.

Peterborough dropped down to sixth as they fell to defeat to a Cambridge United side who are fighting for survival in this division. A 2-0 victory for Cambridge with Harrison Dunk scoring in injury time in the first half, before Sam Dunk doubled their lead in the 66th minute. Peterborough will be eyeing Derby nervously with that defeat, as the Rams moved one point behind them. Cambridge will be able to sense how close survival is now and it will be even sweeter for them, as it appears it will come at the expense of their local rivals Oxford United, the two sides are now level on points, with Oxford ahead on goal difference.

Derby County could not take advantage of Peterborough slipping up as they still sit outside the play-offs, but are only one point behind The Posh. The Rams travelled to Bristol Rovers and looked to be off to a flyer as David McGoldrick opened the scoring four minutes in. They struggled from there however as they only managed to maintain 30% of possession in the game and Joey Barton’s men finally got their reward in injury time as Antony Evans converted from the spot in the 95th minute of the game. Derby still sit in seventh, while Rovers are 15th in the league, but are in no danger of facing the drop.

Wycombe Wanderers also slipped up in their hunt for the playoffs and their dream appears to be all but over of reaching the Championship once again. They were on the receiving end of this weekend’s shock result when they visited a Morecambe side who are desperately fighting to get out of the relegation zone. The hosts picked up the three points they needed on the day, as Cole Stockton scored in the 89th minute to snatch the victory away from a dominant visiting side that simply struggled to take their chances. Wycombe sit five points behind Peterborough and look unlikely to break into the playoff places now, but anything is possible and they will not be giving up yet. Morecambe are two points away from safety after this victory, however, the two teams above them have two games in hand over them.

Portsmouth had to fight from behind once again, this time against a 10-man Shrewsbury Town. No goals until the second half until Rob Street opened the scoring in the 53rd minute. It was a day to remember for Shrews defender Tom Flanagan, he picked up a yellow card in the 83rd minute and three minutes later in the 86th, he was shown his second yellow and his marching orders.  Marlon Pack equalised in the 82nd minute for Portsmouth, however, the visitors were unable to take advantage of the extra man on the field. Shrewsbury sit in 10th, eight points behind Portsmouth, who are six points off the playoffs with it looking unlikely they break into the final four.

Lincoln City’s encounter with Port Vale will go down as one of the most eventful encounters this season, a five-goal thriller which also saw the referee brandishing three red cards during the 90 minutes. Lasse Sorensen opened the scoring in the 11th minute. Imps goalkeeper Carl Rushworth saw a straight red in the 27th minute before Matt Taylor levelled the scoring from the spot. Three minutes later, Taylor was involved again, this time setting up Daniel Butterworth to score to give Vale the lead. Tom Conlon was sent off for violent conduct less than a minute later, it has been confirmed this red card has been overturned since. Ben House was to the rescue once again for the Imps as he equalised shortly before halftime. In the final 10 minutes, Vale defender Sammy Robinson saw his second yellow and joined Butterworth and Rushworth, before the 87th minute where defender Adam Jackson found the back of the net to steal a victory for the Imps. Port Vale sit six points clear of the relegation zone in 18th and will be nervously keeping an eye on the games in hand which Cambridge and Oxford have over them. Lincoln are comfortable in mid-table, with not much room to move up or down the table, all eyes will already be on next season and a strong finish to this one.

MK Dons will feel hard done by as they fight harder to ensure survival in the league, they welcomed a Cheltenham side who are relatively safe, despite relegation still being a mathematical possibility. Elliot Bonds opened the scoring for the Robins in the 12th minute, making it look like another game which they would take control of. Dons, however, saw otherwise, Mohamed Eisa equalised in the second minute of injury in the first half, before adding another in the 59th minute to give them the lead. It would be the same man Alfie May to the rescue once again for Cheltenham, he scored in the 97th minute to snatch a point for the visitors and dash the hosts hope. Four points separate the two sides with Cheltenham in 17th and MK Dons in 19th, three points keep Dons above the drop zone with Oxford United having a game in hand over them, which coincidentally comes against Cheltenham who are seven points clear of the drop.

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