Shakers clinch promotion - League Two review
Billing Monday’s game at Chesterfield as the title decider only really rang true in terms of the Spireites’ pursuit of the championship, writes Danny Brothers, but Bury, the winners of a match worthy of any division, kept hold of their ambitions of stealing the title away at the last while also confirming their place in League One next season.
It was a pulsating contest at the B2Net Stadium as the Shakers proved that they’re not only capable of matching the favourites for the top spot but of overtaking them during the final two games of the season.
Tom Lees has been on a roll of headed goals of late for Bury and it was he, and by this method, that gave the Shakers the early advantage. Lees rose to nod in a Steven Schumacher corner and the hordes of travelling supporters dared to dream of League One.
The visitors didn’t hold back and were playing the sort of football that has won them numerous plaudits over the last few months. Lees went close with his head again before Ryan Lowe’s shot was well saved by Tommy Lee in the home goal. Nicky Ajose, the lively Manchester United loanee, hit the side netting and the half time whistle came as a blessing to the already promoted Spireites.
Chesterfield, however, started the brighter in the second half and after five minutes, Craig Davies levelled the scores with a neat finish from the right hand side of the box. Game on! Five minutes later, though, Bury regained the lead. Lowe had a shot blocked and the ball fell to David Worrall who made no mistake and put his side back on course.
It was frantic stuff and once again Chesterfield came back, showing the spirit that had led them to their own promotion which they sealed on Good Friday. Jack Lester got their second equaliser of the game past the despairing hands of Cameron Belford, who then had to save from Davies as Chesterfield looked for the winner that would crown them champions.
But with four minutes to go, Lowe would get his moment once again. The prolific striker, and League Two Player of the Year, met a deep corner to fire home and make it 3-2 in Bury’s favour. Just a few minutes of holding on would signal their elevation to the next level and the Shakers had to survive a goal line clearance before eventually sealing a well-deserved promotion in front of their delirious travelling contingent.
A terrific run has led Bury to second place and even the departure of the man that led them to the top three, Alan Knill, hasn’t prevented his old charges from finishing the job he started. Knill, now at Scunthorpe, could well come up against his old side next season in League One. As for Bury, they can enjoy this moment but must then get back to work to try and grasp the championship to put the icing on the top of an already memorable campaign.
They finish the season with games at home to third placed Wycombe and away at play-off chasing Stevenage while Chesterfield go to Torquay on Friday night and host Gillingham on the final day. Bury won the battle but the war is still to be decided.
With only one place left in the automatic promotion picture, the battle to join Chesterfield and Bury looks set to go to the wire. Shrewsbury and Accrington played out a goalless draw which saw the Shrews replaced in the top three once again.
It’s becoming a ding dong battle between Shrewsbury and Wycombe for third after Wanderers, aided by a Scott Rendell brace, beat Crewe 2-0 on Monday. There is still just a point separating the two sides vying for third with surely too big a job on now for the rest of the chasing pack to get involved again.
Accrington’s point keeps them in fifth while Stevenage are back up to sixth following a crucial home win over Port Vale. Lawrie Wilson’s goal was enough to see off Vale whose disappointing end to the season means their play-off hopes are now all but over.
The same can be said about Rotherham who have also fallen away in recent weeks and saw their ambitions crash after losing 1-0 at home to Gillingham, who occupy seventh place thanks to a wickedly deflected Andy Barcham shot.
Torquay were involved in a thriller at Burton with Albion recovering from two goals down to lead 3-2 only for Billy Kee to equalise with fifteen minutes to go at the Pirelli Stadium. Their second draw in a row means the Gulls drop out of the top seven but are still just a point away. It now looks like it will be three from four to join either Shrewsbury or Wycombe in the play-offs.
Just as much drama at the bottom as the big game of the day down there, Stockport hosting Northampton, ended in a draw thanks to an absolute screamer from County’s Greg Tansey in the 88th minute. Goal difference means that barring a miracle, the Hatters are down but it also means two more points dropped for Northampton, who are still hovering over the drop zone having extended a torrid run to eighteen without a win.
Barnet could not take full advantage but did earn a point at home to Oxford to stay a point off the Cobblers. James Constable equalised after Clovis Kamdjo gave Barnet the lead, before Mark Hughes put the Bees in prime position to jump out of the bottom two. But Constable struck again late on and left the hosts still in the drop zone.
Lincoln are a side in freefall and they made it nine without a win as Cheltenham as good as secured their own place in League Two for another season. The Imps fell to goals from Josh Low and Danny Andrew as Cheltenham picked up their first win in seven.
Hereford are still lingering above the drop zone after drawing at Morecambe. Will Haining equalised after getting on the end of a Scott Brown cross to deny the Bulls, who had earlier taken the lead through Steve Leslie.
Burton’s draw at Torquay means they’re now unbeaten in four and four points clear of danger while Bradford’s 2-1 home win over Aldershot surely now sees them safe following an uncertain couple of weeks.
And Macclesfield’s fears are also over after a goalless draw at home to Southend, who are finishing the season well to occupy a place in the top half.
So with only two games to go it really is do or die time and the penultimate round of fixtures this weekend promises more and more drama.
Chesterfield can wrap up the title if they win at Torquay on Friday night and Bury lose at home to Wycombe in Saturday’s massive encounter at Gigg Lane. Shrewsbury are at Cheltenham as they look to jump back into the top three and there’s implications at both ends as Acccrington host Barnet and Stevenage travel to Northampton. Gillingham take on Macclesfield and Lincoln will be desperate for their form to turn at Oxford. Burton visit Roots Hall to face Southend and Morecambe look to add to Port Vale’s poor run.
Meanwhile, Aldershot are at home to Rotherham with nothing but a win good enough for the Millers. Stockport should have their relegation 100% confirmed but will want to go out fighting at Crewe. And Hereford aim to shed any relegation fears when they host Bradford at Edgar Street.