Rochdale and Scunthorpe United were celebrating promotion to League One on Saturday, despite mixed fortunes on the field.
Rochdale’s return to the third tier of English football was accompanied by a climb to the top of the League Two table with a 2-0 home win over Cheltenham Town, while the end of a 28-match unbeaten run was not enough to deny Scunthorpe promotion at Exeter City.
While Scunthorpe lost and went up, Torquay United were relegated despite winning 3-1 at Mansfield Town and the Devon club drop out of the Football League after a five-year stay.
Rochdale, who recently topped a survey of the Football League’s longest-suffering fans, came into the weekend two points adrift of leaders Scunthorpe, but two goals in five first-half minutes from Peter Vincenti and Ian Henderson proved enough to send them top, with Russ Wilcox’s record-breaking start to a managerial career coming to an end at St James Park.
A Craig Woodman goal in first-half-stoppage time left the visitors needing to respond quickly after the break, but instead it was Exeter who extended their lead with a right-footed Jimmy Keohane effort from outside the area ensuring they are safe.
Rochdale visit Newport County next weekend, while Scunthorpe host York City, and Keith Hill’s men will remain at the summit heading into their final game if third-placed Chesterfield fail to beat Burton Albion on Sunday.
While champagne corks are popping at the top end of the division, Plainmoor is likely to be a more sombre setting over the coming days, as Torquay prepare for life outside of the Football League.
Chris Hargreaves’ charges claimed the three points against 10-man Mansfield, but victories elsewhere for Northampton Town – 3-0 at Dagenham and Redbridge – and Bristol Rovers – 2-1 at Wycombe Wanderers – sent Torquay down.
Defeat for Wycombe sees them plunged into the bottom two, three points from safety, with a trip to Torquay their only remaining fixture.
Fleetwood Town’s chances of securing automatic promotion suffered a blow as they drew 1-1 with Southend United, who are now assured of a play-off spot.
The result, which leaves Fleetwood two points outside the automatic positions, means Chesterfield have the chance to seal promotion on Sunday.
The line-up for the play-offs is almost complete after York City defeated Newport County 1-0 to extend their season and Oxford United missed out with a 2-1 home defeat to Accrington Stanley.
Morecambe guaranteed League Two safety with 3-0 win at AFC Wimbledon, Bury and Portsmouth played out an entertaining 4-4 draw and Plymouth Argyle were held 1-1 by Hartlepool United at Home Park.
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