Two new managers installed at struggling League One and Two sides, Paul Lambert, the former Celtic midfielder, and Mike Newell, late of Luton Town, saw creditable performances that gave an indication of the problems at Colchester United and Grimsby Town, but also hinted at their solutions.
At Grimsby, Newell has the harder task and certainly startedwith the trickiest fixture, hosting the League Two leaders Wycombe Wanderers, Lambert's previous club, but made the strongest possible start when Nick Hegarty fired in a left-footed shot after just 62 seconds. The Mariners, without a win all season, held out until injury time when Leon Jackson headed in Wycombe's equaliser to deny Newell a win from his first match. It ended 1-1.
By contrast, Lambert's Colchester had a trip to Cheltenham Town, another side in peril at the bottom of League One, but having led 3-1 six minutes into the second half the Us capitulated. They were holding on for a point in the 90th minute, but in the fifth minute of time added on Barry Hayles scored for Cheltenham and Colchester lost 4-3. Clearly, stamina and the defence need improving.
Gary Hooper set up goals for Martyn Woolford and Paul Hayes as Scunthorpe United continued to press for a prompt return to the Championship. Woolford crossed and Izzy Iriekpen headed in the Iron's third as they beat Crewe Alexandra 3-0 to go top of League One. At Elland Road, Jermaine Beckford scored twice as the division's heavyweights, Leeds United, defeated Brighton 3-0 to go third.
Walsall, Millwall and South-end also hope to have something to say in the League One promotion debate and yesterday Millwall were the most vocal, Tresor Kandol scoring twice in a 3-1 win at Tranmere. The Shrimpers were held 1-1 at home by Stockport and had Dan Harding sent off, Walsall lost 2-1 at home to Peterborough.
Peter Leven was the architect of Milton Keynes Dons' comeback against Carlisle United. Danny Graham gave the Cumbrians an early lead, but Leven's precise right-foot shot into the corner seven minutes before the break levelled, and just after the hour he crossed for Miguel Angel Llera to head in his first goal for the Dons. Leven's left boot thumped in the Dons' third from the penalty spot for a 3-1 win.
In League Two, Bury slipped up at home, losing 1-0 to Exeter, Shrewsbury lost, 2-1 at home to Port Vale, and so Bradford City's 3-2 win at Accrington Stanley took them up to fifth.
Turning a negative into a positive might sound like the mantra of a motivational guru, but it is precisely what Bourne-mouth's manager, Jimmy Quinn, and Mark Robins, the managerof Rotherham United, have been doing all season. Two of the three sides who started the season with sizeable points deductions, they met on the South Coast. Inevitably, it ended 0-0.
The third penalised club, Luton Town, lost 2-1 at home to Darlington to remain on -18.