The return of the ‘Five of the Best’ blog series where I review the 5 best Football League matches, only this time it’s now being done monthly rather than weekly. I hope you enjoy this first month’s edition.
AFC Wimbledon 4-0 Portsmouth – 16th November
Rewind to the 2007/08 season, and you’ll find both sets of fans celebrating for very different reasons. Portsmouth have just won the FA Cup following an excellent run that saw them beat Manchester United at Old Trafford. AFC Wimbledon have just won the Isthmian League Premier Division Play-off Final vs Staines Town to move them into the Conference South. Back to the present and the two clubs meet for the first time since the hosts reformed, a quite momentous occasion for the Neal Ardley’s men, but a harsh reality for Pompey as it shows how far they’ve fallen. Into the game and within 20 minutes The Dons were awarded a penalty after Trevor Carson fouled Kaid Mohamed in the area. Harry Pell, a reliable man from the spot, stepped up and saw his 12 yard strike saved. This didn’t prove to be a problem though, as 14 minutes later Andy Frampton netted from close range to see Wimbledon go 1-0 up. The next goal was always going to be important and it was Frampton who buried his second 20 minutes from time to end Portsmouth chances of revival. Sammy Moore struck a super half-volley to add insult to injury before Smith’s 90th minute goal added more and more salt to Pompey’s already infected wounds.
Bradford City 3-3 Coventry City – 17th November
A thriller took place at the commercialised-named Coral Windows Stadium involving two of the most attacking sides in League One. It took just two minutes for the opening goal to arrive and it came through the unlikeliest of sources: Andy Webster – the defender thumping a volley in. The next goal came just 5 minutes later through the reliable Leon Clarke scoring his 11th of the season. Nakhi Wells proceeded to pull a goal back on the 17 minute mark and added another midway through the first half to level the score at 2-2. Another goal-machine Callum Wilson left his mark on the game to put Coventry 3-2 ahead at the break. Both defences were far stronger in the second half as the visitors attempted to hold on to their slender lead. But, after a explosive first-half, controversy was bound to follow as Bradford were awarded a penalty in injury time. Bermuda-born Wells stepped equalised and secured his hat-trick.
Sheffield Wednesday 5-2 Reading – 2nd November
An out-of-form, winless Wednesday took on high-flying Reading in front of the Sky cameras with an unlikely result following. Matty Fryatt opened the scoring for the hosts when Michail Antonio squared a pass to him. Antonio turned assister to goalscorer not long after when he used great trickery before applying a smart finish from 25 yards. Pogrebnyak nodded in from Chris Gunter’s cross to cut the Owls lead by half, but they soon restored their two goal cushion when the ball inadvertently bounced off Morrison and rolled in the net for an own goal. A rejuvnated Reading then couldn’t stop Wickham’s half-volley just over 10 minutes into the second half and Fryatt doubled his tally 5 minutes after when a neat flick-on from Wickham allowed him all the time in the world to delicately chip the ball over McCarthy. Le Fondre buried a penalty towards the dying embers of the game as Dave Jones’ men ran out deserved winners.
Fleetwood Town 5-4 Mansfield Town – 23rd November
A sensational 9-goal game took place between promotion-chasing Fleetwood and League Two-establishing Mansfield Town. A goal-mouth scramble within the first minute allowed Evans time and space to put the hosts 1-0 up. Chris Clements leveled up the scoring though through his curling free-kick. A miss kick by Cresswell then allowed Howell to put the visitors ahead for the first time after 13 minutes. Sarcevic stamped his mark on the game to equalise for the Cod Army. A quick two goals from Fleetwood midway through the second half from Sarcevic and Evans almost ended any revival from Mansfield… But the Stags fought back scoring with Crucas heading in from close range before Ross Dyer looked to have a rescued a point for his side. However this tie had another twist as Riley’s rash tackle on Sarcevic warranted a penalty. The midfielder stepped up and secured 3 points for his side and netted his first hat-trick in English football.
Swindon Town 5-2 Port Vale – 2nd November
Mark Cooper’s men entertained crowds with slick attacking football as they cruised to victory in this encounter. N’Guessan put Swindon ahead with the only goal in the first half. Goals began to flow in the second half when controversial Nile Ranger doubled the hosts’ lead. Massimo Luongo sent the hosts 3-0 in front 15 minutes into the second half. Vale began a fightback through veteran Tom Pope, before reducing arrears to just one thanks to Lee Hughes. However the visitors’ goals proved to be nothing more than consolations as Nathan Byrne finished to send his side 4-2 in front before Luongo netted his brace to see it out a sterling win for the Robins.
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