Nationwide Division Two - Saturday Review (03/05/03)

Last updated : 04 May 2003 By

With the championship, automatic and play-off promotion places already settled the main focus of attention on the last day of the season involved whether Chesterfield or Cheltenham Town would fill the one remaining relegation place.

Allsopp: Goal condemned Cheltenham

Cheltenham Town, who had remained in the drop zone for almost the entire season needed to win at Billy Dearden’s Notts County and hope that the struggling Spireites did no better than draw at Blackpool.

In a tense clash at Meadow Lane, Cheltenham skipper Mark Yates saw a header crash against the crossbar early on but the West Countrymen then fell behind to a 40th minute headed goal from the Magpies Danny Allsopp, his 12th goal of the season. The Robins battled hard in the second half, but they could not find a reply and were ultimately consigned to Nationwide Division Three.

Relieved Chesterfield, needing three points to guarantee their safety had taken a 39th minute lead through John Douglas in their clash at Steve McMahon’s out of form Blackpool, but Scott Taylor levelled for the Tangerines on 63 minutes and as the pressure increased, the visitors' normally reliable David Reeves, saw his 83rd minute spot kick saved by home keeper, Phil Barnes. The Derbyshire outfit did however manage to hold on for the draw, and then came the news that Cheltenham had lost.

Meanwhile, at the top end of the table, the play-off matches were confirmed. Bristol City will play Cardiff City and Queens Park Rangers will face Oldham Athletic.

Bristol City secured a third place finish, thanks to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Brian Horton’s Port Vale at Ashton Gate in front of 12, 410. Goals from Scott Murray and Lee Peacock completing the victory for Danny Wilson’s men.

In form Queens Park Rangers finished fourth, after gaining a narrow 1-0 victory over mid table Colchester United at Layer Road. Paul Furlong netted for the 13th time this season, seven minutes after the break to secure the win for Ian Holloway's side.

Ian Dowie’s Oldham Athletic will face the Hoops in the play-offs, after being held to a 1-1 draw against already relegated Huddersfield Town at the McAlpine Stadium.

The Latics, proudly boasting the best away record in the division with just two defeats all season, trailed to a spectacular 30 yard screamer from the Terriers’ Danny Schofield. However, Tony Carrs restored parity midway through the second half and the
side almost won the contest thereafter.

Earnshaw: Record breaker!

Completing the quartet of play-off hopefuls are long time automatic promotion contenders Cardiff City, who could only manage a 1-1 draw at Gresty Road against already promoted Crewe Alexandra.

Richard Walker opened the scoring for Dario Gradi’s men a minute before the break, but the prolific Robert Earnshaw netted his 31st goal of the season just after the hour mark to secure a point for the Bluebirds, incredibly their first goal for 432 minutes. The goal also ensured Earnshaw broke the long standing club scoring record of Hugh Ferguson, which had stood since the 1920’s.

Tranmere Rovers won for the fifth successive match, this time a five goal thriller, after staging an incredible rally against Carlton Palmer’s Stockport County at Edgeley Park.

Trailing to first half home strikes by Aaron Wilbraham and Andy Welsh, the Merseysiders stormed back after the interval, and drew level thanks to strikes from former Stockport County player, Shane Nicholson and a Rob Clare own goal. Gary Jones then netted in the 81st minute, heading home a Mickey Mellon cross to secure the victory.

Ray Mathias’ side finished seventh and just missed out on a play off place, but will be hopeful of success next season after a final flourish to the season which saw the men from Prenton Park remain unbeaten in their last 15 league matches.

The highest crowd of the afternoon (12, 537) witnessed runaway champions Wigan Athletic register their 29th victory and 100th point of a wonderful season at the JJB Stadium. Tony Dinning secured the victory for Paul Jewell’s side, his first half strike accounting for Glyn Hodges’ Barnsley.

In the clash of the already relegated clubs, Mansfield Town overcame basement dwellers Northampton Town by the odd goal in three at Field Mill.

Scott Stamp gave the visitors the perfect start with a goal in the very first minute but the Stags levelled just after the hour mark when Andy White netted following good work from Liam Lawrence. And it was Lawrence who settled the contest in favour of Keith Curle’s men on 77 minutes, converting a penalty after the livewire Junior Mendes had been felled by Cobblers substitute, Luke Chambers.

Swindon Town ended their programme with a top half finish after goals from the free scoring Sam Parkin and Stefani Miglioranzi ensured a come from behind victory over Joe Kinnear’ Luton Town at the County Ground.

The Hatters had taken the lead on the half hour with Tony Thorpe’s 16th goal of the season, but Miglioranzi levelled almost immediately and Parkin’s 25th goal of a prolific campaign soon after settled the issue in favour of Andy King’s men.

In other games, Brentford drew 1-1 with Barry Fry’s Peterborough United at Griffin Park (A Full match report can be found elsewhere on this site) while Plymouth Argyle completed their campaign in eighth place, following a 1-0 home success over Lawrie Sanchez’s struggling Wycombe Wanderers at Home Park, thanks to a late strike from substitute, Nathan Lowndes.

Pictures courtesy of Notts County mad, and Cardiff