As the weeks tick down, things begin to happen in the Football League as teams get relegated and promoted.
Congratulations to Northampton Town, who confirmed their promotion to League One, and commiserations to Bolton Wanderers and Crewe Alexandra, who drop to League One and League Two respectively.
However, here are this weekend’s award winners.
FANS OF THE WEEKEND: Portsmouth
Another great following from the south coast club, who took 1,600 on the short trip to Dagenham and Redbridge, almost out-numbering the home support.
The team didn’t disappoint as they came from behind to secure another strong win, walking away with a 4-1 result. That keeps Paul Cox’s men comfortably in the playoff places and still in position to be a part of the four-team fight for that final automatic promotion place.
The Pompey faithful always have a strong support and they proved it again this weekend. With a club that size, promotion is still the goal and more results like that will give them one hell of a chance.
Next page: Goal of the weekend
GOAL OF THE WEEKEND: Johnny Russell – Derby County
There were a few quality goals in Derby’s 4-1 win against Bolton Wanderers but the opener from Scotsman Johnny Russell takes the award this weekend.
The forward received the ball from George Thorne 25 yards out and Russell stuck the ball with real venom into the visitor’s goal, giving Ben Amos zero chance. It started off what was a superb result for the Rams, who have opened up a small gap in the playoff race which can be so vital at this time of the season.
It also confirmed Bolton’s inevitable relegation, they will be in League One next season but Derby are still looking at the possibility of Premier League football next year. If they can keep up these kind of scoring exploits, and more bolts from the blue from Russell, and it could be tough to stop them.
Next page: A nasty ‘Moment of the Weekend’
MOMENT OF THE WEEKEND: Luke Hyam’s leg breaker
I’m going to rant here and I believe rightfully so because it hasn’t been discussed in a proper manner on television this weekend and it’s an issue that needs to be brought up.
In the first few minutes of the game between Ipswich Town and Brentford, Luke Hyam slid in on Alan Judge. He won the ball but in the process, broke the Irishman’s leg in two places, ending his season and his hopes of making his nation’s Euro 2016 squad in one fell swoop.
Claiming it isn’t even a yellow is nonsense. The reason these tackles are getting punished with red cards is because they can cause serious injuries like Judge has suffered and even if he wins the ball, it’s a moot point when the force used breaks a player’s leg, “he won the ball” in this situation no longer matters.
Judge now misses what could have been a huge summer for him, as this will also hinder his hoped move to the Premier League and he may not be on the pitch again until the winter. Hyam will have a one-match ban because he picked up a second yellow. There’s no justice in football and unfortunately it’s incidents like this that prove that these kind of challenges need to be severely punished.
Next page: Game for the week – 7 goal’er!
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: Morecambe 2-5 Hartlepool United
If you’re living in Morecambe, go watch your team in the last few weeks of the season because there has been some real value games at the Globe Arena, even though there is nothing to play for.
Hartlepool scored twice in the first six minutes before Alex Kenyon pulled one back for the hosts 20 minutes later. Nathan Thomas then grabbed his second of the game for the hosts as Luke James converted a penalty that also saw Shrimpers goalkeeper Barry Roche sent off.
Tom Barkhuizen scored a consolation before Rhys Oates grabbed another a minute from the end to give Hartlepool a strong 5-2 win. They are now safe from relegation and Morecambe can also look forward to another season in the Football League.
Next page: Young Chesterfield Player of the Weekend
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND: Gboly Ariyibi – Chesterfield
Gboly Ariyibi might not be a name you are familiar with but the 21-year-old excelled at the weekend as Chesterfield managed a huge win over playoff chasing Barnsley.
The youngster was absolutely everywhere and while he didn’t grab a goal himself, he set up the two that gave his side the 2-1 victory at Oakwell. His endeavour down the wing was evident for all to see, he was a cut above and his drive helped the Spireites grab a vital win that just keeps them ahead of the competition at the bottom of League One.
The American has impressed this season as he matures and could become a vital part of Chesterfield’s future. If he plays like this until the end of the season, it will be in the third tier of English football, rather than in League Two.
Next page: Player of the Weekend
PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND: Louis Dodds – Port Vale
The 29-year-old really excelled in a fixture that saw Port Vale grab a win against Crewe Alexandra that saw the latter fall through the League One trap door.
The midfielder was in top form, scoring at the very start and towards the end of the game to help his side seal a 3-0 win against their local rivals. The win maintains their solid season as they continue to fight with several other teams to finish in the top half of the table.
Sending your bitter rivals down and having a great game yourself must be one of the best feelings in football. Crewe will now face life in League Two and Dodds will be delighted to have landed that final, fateful blow.
Next page: The Big One – Team of the Weekend
TEAM OF THE WEEKEND: Rotherham United
What a difference a new manager can make and whilst he’s worked miracles before, this might be Neil Warnock’s best piece of magic yet.
Rotherham got off to the ideal start, with Matt Derbyshire scoring within the first minute before Leon Best doubled their lead from the spot. Kirk Broadfoot and Richie Smalling made it a comfortable result against fellow strugglers MK Dons, who fall a little closer to the Championship trap door.
It’s been more than just one great weekend for the Millers, it’s been a terrific month that has seen them go from almost relegation certainties to a nine-point gap over the bottom three. What a superb run and they can now expect another season in the Championship, a great achievement.