Sky Bet League Two round-up: Misery for the Mariners as barren run of form continues whilst Cambridge United climb into the automatic promotion spots
Photo by Lewis Storey / Getty Images 

Only three fixtures took place in Sky Bet League Two this weekend, due to a catalogue of games being called off due to frozen pitch surfaces and FA Cup action across the country. 

Cambridge United produced a turnaround to record their second successive victory and move within one point of the automatic promotion places. 

In addition, there was also plenty of drama at the bottom of the division as Southend United were victorious over fellow strugglers Barrow AFC and Port Vale put an out of form Grimsby Town side to the sword. 

  • Southend United 1-0 Barrow AFC 

A debut goal from Portsmouth loanee Recco Hackett-Fairchild ensured yet another victory for the Shrimpers in an all important game at the bottom of League Two.

After an awful 2020 on and off the pitch for Southend, things began to pick up towards the end and seemingly they've carried that form into the new year. 

Mark Molesley's men have now won four of their last six league outings and can climb out of the relegation zone for the first time all season if they win their game in hand. 

Barrow were on a three game unbeaten run themselves but this defeat is a big blow and plunges them into the midst of the relegation battle at the bottom of the football league. 

Hackett-Fairchild opened the scoring after just three minutes with a lovely curling 20-yard strike into the bottom left-hand corner and the Shrimpers were tight defensively to ensure a third clean sheet in four at Roots Hall

Greg Halford is another recent arrival at the Essex based outfit, but the experienced 36-year-old was sent off with 38 minutes left on the clock following a second yellow card. 

Nonetheless, Southend held on to record a huge victory at the expense of a Barrow side who now have to pick themselves up for another huge game against Scunthorpe United

  • Port Vale 3-0 Grimsby Town 

The Valiants ended a six-game unbeaten run in the league with an impressive and comfortable display against newly managed Grimsby. 

It's the first fixture Vale have played since the sacking of manager John Askey in the week. 

Paul Hurst's return to Blundell Park as manager hasn't been the one he will have envisaged or wanted, but it highlights the task that's ahead to stop the rot - as the Mariners slide into the League Two drop zone. 

Grimsby have won just one of their last 10 league matches and ironically that came against fellow strugglers Scunthorpe - who Hurst left to rejoin the Mariners

Shaun Brisley was on hand to poke home Tom Pope's downward header from close range, inside the first 10 minutes, and Vale had their second before the quarter-hour mark in a game that Grimsby were always chasing.

Some scrappy play just outside the visitors 18-yard area eventually fumbled its way out wide for David Worrall who lofted a nicely weighted cross into the path of Devante Rodney who got between two Mariners defenders and doubled the hosts advantage. 

Matters got worse on the hour mark when Luke Waterfall slid in an attempt to combat the ball from heading across the area into the path of Pope, but he instead turned the ball into his own net and Grimsby trailed by three. 

The Valiants are now firmly lodged in mid table and occupy 13th position. They've bridged a large gap between themselves and the danger zone but are also some distance from the play-off spots. 

  • Cambridge United 2-1 Harrogate Town 

The fear of abandonment loomed over the Abbey Stadium as the fog descended over this League Two clash. 

Unfortunately for the visitors, as the conditions deteriorated - so did their performance levels. 

On the 10th-minute, Jack Muldoon took his tally for the season into double figures as he fired Harrogate into an early lead. 

After a scrappy stage of play with a number of long and high balls, the ball eventually fell to the feet of Muldoon who got behind the Cambridge defensive line, and he made no mistake putting the visitors ahead. 

It took some time for Cambridge to form their response, but it eventually came in the 71st minute through Joe Ironside

Experienced midfielder Wes Hoolahan was the provider as he swept the ball across the area and Ironside connected with the ball to divert it goal wards past a sprawling James Belshaw in the Sulphurites net. 

Cambridge were given a large boost when the referee reduced the away side to 10-men after 78 minutes. 

Substitute Lloyd Kerry was deemed to have raised his hands to Harry Darling and was dismissed - which the hosts took advantage of just minutes later.

Hoolahan switched from provider to goal scorer exactly 10 minutes after the equaliser and that would make all the difference between the two sides. 

The ball fell nicely on the edge of the box for Hoolahan, and he swept the ball home past a wall of bodies in blue to gift Cambridge the lead - one that they would see out and confirm an important three points to climb up to third position. 

Harrogate continued their staggered win, loss, win, loss form and are currently placed in 18th position with a five point cushion above the relegation zone. 

 

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