Burton manager Martin Paterson has confidence his side can avoid relegation from League One after taking encouragement from their performance in a 1-1 draw at Wigan.

The Brewers responded well to falling behind to a bizarre Sam Hughes own goal just before half-time and they levelled nine minutes into the second half through John Brayford.

Both sides hit the woodwork – Burton through Joe Hugill and Wigan through Thelo Aasgaard – as honours ended even, leaving Burton one point and one place above the drop zone.

“It was a great point for us, and you could argue we had enough chances to win the game in the second half,” Paterson said.

“It was a crazy goal we conceded, and we did well to react from that. We gave them a goal but we showed great character in the group.

“To come to Wigan and put in a performance like that, I’m looking forward to the next six games.

“We were the better team in the second half, we kept playing, we kept fighting, and I’m confident we will achieve the remit of staying in the division.

“The challenge now is to pick up the results that the performances deserve, because I actually think we deserved to win that game.”

Paterson also played a straight bat when asked about an incident directly after the full-time whistle, when he restrained Hughes, who appeared to be on his way into the away end to confront a Burton fan.

“I don’t want to comment on anything that happened,” he said.

“All I will say is that I make sure my players remain safe at all times.”

Wigan boss Shaun Maloney was not happy with the majority of his side’s performance.

“I liked the last 15-20 minutes,” said Maloney. “The first 70 minutes, I didn’t like.

“I didn’t like the performance, I didn’t like the feeling I got from my team, we just sort of drifted through the first three-quarters of the game.

“I said before the game that Burton were very well organised, they’re hard to break down, and they’re fighting for their lives.

“And there were a few things that happened that make me think we were probably lucky not to lose that game.
“They also hit the post, and every set-play caused us problems.

“I know we hit the bar and we had some good chances at the end but, for large parts of the game, I didn’t like how we played.”

Ian Evatt claimed his Bolton side looked fearful after a goalless draw at Stevenage left them six points adrift of the League One automatic promotion places.

Both sides had their chances to snatch a win, with Will Forrester smacking the crossbar for Wanderers in the first half and Boro’s Ben Thompson slipping late on when he looked set to punish Ricardo Santos’ sloppy pass.

The stalemate saw Wanderers slip further away from the automatic spots with six games remaining and Bolton manager Evatt was left concerned at how tentative his team were at Stevenage.

“We looked a fearful team,” he said.

“I thought we looked like we were afraid to lose and the type of team we want to be is fearless and forward-thinking.

“It had a feeling that it was ours to lose but at the minute it isn’t ours to lose, it is somebody else’s. There is no given right but it was an important point.”

As the season approaches its climax, Evatt is aware that the margin for error gets slimmer even though they have a game in hand on second-place Derby, with Reading next up on Monday.

He added: “These players are playing under huge pressure.

“We want to leave the excuses and go out and perform and it felt like we were petrified of giving something away.

“There is an opportunity and it is still wide open, we have to be the fearless team I want us to be.”

Stevenage forced Bolton into errors and Thompson had an opportunity to snatch victory after Jordan Roberts intercepted Santos’ pass, but the midfielder lost his footing as he shot.

The point meant that Stevenage’s winless run extended to six games, but Steve Evans is keen for his side to live in the moment as they fight Oxford and Lincoln for the last play-off spot.

Evans said: “We had the difficult game of the weekend. We had Bolton Wanderers. I thought Lincoln would win and they did, and I thought Oxford United would win at Shrewsbury (they drew).

“We head to the Valley and if someone said to me four weeks ago, four months ago, two years ago, Stevenage are going to go to Charlton on Easter Monday and are fighting for the play-offs in League One, it wouldn’t be thinkable.

“We are here on merit, we have good players. You can see how our club is run compared to other clubs in this league.

“So, from our point of view, we have a fantastic structure, we are in a fantastic place and we are really embracing every minute of this.”

Derby head coach Paul Warne has urged his players to enjoy the pressure after they strengthened their automatic promotion chances with a 1-0 win over Blackpool.

The Rams came out on top in a tense, close-fought game that was settled by Ebou Adams’ superb first-half strike.

Clear chances were few and far between until the ball fell to Adams on the edge of the box in the 40th minute and the midfielder smashed home an unstoppable shot to celebrate his first Derby goal.

Derby should have added a second in the 55th minute when Nathaniel Mendez-Laing put Conor Washington through but Blackpool goalkeeper Daniel Grimshaw made an excellent save.

It resulted in a nervy finish for Derby, who needed keeper Joe Wildsmith to beat out a Sonny Carey free-kick in the 71st minute.

Blackpool continued to find openings and Kyle Joseph had two goalbound shots blocked by Curtis Nelson and Eiran Cashin in the closing minutes.

The win sets Derby up for Tuesday night’s visit to leaders Portsmouth and Warne said: “I told the lads before the game that pressure is a privilege.

“To play in these games and to have something to go for is amazing because you can have loads of seasons where it just fizzles out.

“I don’t think there’s any easy opposition in this league, it is tough and what I did like today was our game management.

“I joked with the lads after that what we normally do with five minutes left is just give the ball away all the time so I really liked our game management at the end.

“I was impressed with our discipline out of possession. Footballers always want the ball all the time so I think the fact the lads took all the information on from the coaches this week, the out of possession stuff impressed me the most.”

For Blackpool head coach Neil Critchley, it was a familiar story.

He said: “I thought we played with bravery, passed the ball well, caused them problems, got into the final third often, got into good situations and failed.

“It’s been the story of our season in certain games away from home. They produced a moment of quality, we don’t, they defend the goal better than us and that’s why they win 1-0 and that’s why they are where they are and why we are where we are.

“We’ve got six games to go and there will be plenty of twists and turns but I’m sick of saying the same things. We’ve created more than enough good moments and didn’t do enough in front of the goal and that’s all too common for us this season.”

Reading manager Ruben Selles praised Portuguese goalkeeper Joel Pereira for his superb first-half display in the 1-0 Sky Bet League One victory over mid-table Northampton.

Pereira, formerly deputy to David Button in the Reading goal, kept his side in contention in the opening period with a series of fine saves to thwart the lively Cobblers attackers.

It set up the platform for home substitute Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan to secure the victory in the 65th minute with a superb curling shot from the edge of the penalty area.

“We made a change and Joel is fighting for that position [in goal] with everything he has,” Selles said.

“He was really good today, he kept us in the game in those [first half] moments.

“But I still don’t really think I got a big performance out of the team today, I just got a massive result.

“We did not get a massive performance, it was not our best game – nowhere near to being good enough from any of us.

“It was an equal game, both teams had chances. Northampton are a good team, a very solid team, but I expected a little bit more from us. I think that we can do better.

“Don’t misunderstand me, I will take a victory any day. The thing is that, in some games in the season, we played much better than we did today – and we didn’t get anything at all.

“Today was not our best – as a team, as a collective. But at least we were consistent enough to get the three points.”

Northampton have won only once in their past seven outings and boss Jon Brady said: “I’m quite pleased with the performance but the result is the disappointing thing today.

“In all our pre-game prep, I haven’t seen a team come here like we have and press Reading from the front. And the success we got from it.

“We had some really got chances in that first half. Sam [Hoskins] has two great efforts and their keeper makes two excellent saves. It’s fine margins today, isn’t it?

“We defended well, we pressed really well and we probably created more chances than we have in any game for a long while. Unfortunately, (we) just haven’t put the ball in the back of the net.

“And their goal was a little easy. We had worked so well all day, then they score.

“And the boys all know it. They’re just really disappointed about the result because of the way that we played.

“When Louis [Appere] went in one on one in the first half, he’s hit the target.

“But, again, their keeper has done really well. On other occasions, those sort of chances go in.”

Exeter manager Gary Caldwell felt the draw was a fair result as his side failed to capitalise on a near-perfect start in the 1-1 stalemate with Charlton.

Ben Purrington’s sixth-minute goal against his former club was the first time Exeter had scored in the opening 15 minutes of a home league game since October 2021 but they let Charlton off the hook by sitting on that lead.

It came back to haunt them as Chuks Aneke’s header went in off Grecians defender Cheick Diabate with just three minutes remaining and it could have been worse for Exeter had Alfie May’s stoppage-time strike not hit the upright.

Caldwell said: “I think it was probably a fair result. I think both teams might think they could have won it.

“I want us to be better over the course of the game; I thought our start in the game was fantastic and the personality we showed right from kick-off, the bravery to play our way, the patterns of play we had worked on all week were killing them.

“We scored a brilliant goal and then we stopped doing what we did to get in front. We made it a 50-50 game. We lost our composure.

“When we give it away playing out, we then become edgy at doing that. I think it’s a lesson that we have to stick to the process. We have to keep doing the things that got us in front in the game and not turn the game into a 50-50 game.

“We’re four games unbeaten but we need to be better.”

Charlton boss Nathan Jones was left with mixed emotions.

He said: “I am just disappointed. If we had started the game better and just been a bit more front-footed and cleared our lines a bit and taken the game to them in the first 10 minutes, we wouldn’t have lost the game.

“We were good first half and created enough chances and moved the ball well but 1-0 puts a different spin on stuff.

“Second half we came out and went after it in the first six, seven minutes and then the game evened out and it wasn’t until I made the changes that we looked like we were going to score.

“Then we finally get the goal and continued to go for it, we went for the win and should have won it at the end. The positives are that we are another game unbeaten, it is another point and we will keep going.

“I wanted us to be front-footed and come out of the blocks but we were a mile off what we have been in recent weeks. Now we have got three home games where I really want us to be front-footed.”

Darren Moore called for Port Vale to keep the momentum going in their survival bid after they registered their first home victory since he took over.

Vale secured back-to-back Sky Bet League One wins for the first time since September with a 2-0 defeat of out-of-sorts Bristol Rovers.

Buoyed by their first win in 2024 in a relegation six-pointer with Burton last time out, Ben Garrity’s header and Baylee Dipepa’s controversial effort – which the visitors felt he handled in the build-up – secured Vale a vital three points.

Boss Moore, whose side are just a point shy of 20th-placed Burton, said: “It’s a tremendous day all round for us with three valuable points.

“It’s our first win [since I’ve come in] so I’m really pleased for everybody connected to the football club.

“It was a really committed performance from the team. The hard work and the desire to get those three points was incredible. We’re really pleased. It’s three points and a good couple of goals.

“All those stats bode well for us going forward and it gives us momentum. We’re really pleased to keep the momentum up from the Burton game.

“I thought our togetherness was really good. It allowed us to be on top of them.

“Even at the end of the game, we felt we could have got more goals. The most important thing was getting the two goals and keeping the clean sheet.

“We needed that performance and I’m pleased it came in front of the home fans.”

It was another disappointing display for Rovers, who have failed to score in their last four games.

Boss Matt Taylor said: “It was another difficult afternoon. It’s not an extreme scoreline.

“I’ve said it so many times but it’s such a poor moment for their goal. It’s another individual mistake which can’t happen – but it has.

“It was another goal with the same sort of principle. As much as the mistake is ours, it’s the officials’ as well. But we still have to defend the outcome of it a lot better than we did.

“On a difficult pitch it was difficult to chase the game and get the ball from A to B.

“It’s poor execution from us. It puts more pressure on being clean defensively. It’s another poor defensive moment and then they’re boosted by that and we’re low.

“There are excuses ‘someone else should be taking care of it’ as opposed to dealing with it.

“Whether he controls it with his hand or not a player should never be allowed to turn and run at your back line like that.

“It’s bitterly disappointing and we couldn’t find any way to force the issue.”

Oxford boss Des Buckingham rued missed chances as his side’s promotion hopes took a blow with a 1-1 draw at Shrewsbury.

Buckingham’s side dropped out of the top six in League One after letting a lead slip.

The visitors went ahead eight minutes into the second half through Billy Bodin, but Shrewsbury substitute Jack Price earned his relegation-battling side a valuable point.

“I think we have created enough chances to win a couple of games there,” Buckingham said.

“Not just chances but big moments – I think it was three or four key moments in the game.

“It is making sure, especially when the game is at 1-0, that you put the game to bed otherwise that can happen.

“If we want to be where we are at the end of the season, those moments need to turn into goals, which then obviously turn into three points and make the game a lot easier.

“We shouldn’t have the game in the state of 1-0 that allows them to come away with a point when we should be two or three clear.

“We want to make sure it points rather than goal difference. It is in our own hands how we finish our season.

“If we do what we want, we won’t need to worry about goal difference.”

Shrewsbury boss Paul Hurst believes his side were deserving of a point, which left them six points clear of the relegation zone.

“For large parts, I thought we were more than in the game and competed well,” Hurst said.

“First half, I thought we perhaps shaved it and had the best chance with Aiden (O’Brien) and Marko (Marosi) made one good save earlier on.

“Second half we actually started better and on the front foot and then gave away a disappointing goal on our part.

“It is movement we highlighted. They got in behind us.

“Then you could see their confidence grow a little but credit to the players, we hung on in there.

“Eventually, they got their rewards, which their efforts deserved with an unusual goalscorer, shall we say, but he has got that quality in him in Jack Price.

“It’s a nice moment for him as he has played higher and in a different county and at different levels.”

Paul Simpson hailed hat-trick hero Jon Mellish after Carlisle produced one of the shocks of the season in Sky Bet League One.

Matchwinner Mellish bagged a first career hat-trick as the basement boys left Posh’s automatic promotion hopes in tatters with just their sixth win of a miserable season.

Mellish headed Simpson’s men into a 27th-minute lead, which he doubled with a smart volley three minutes into the second half.

The midfield ace completed his treble just before the hour with another spectacular volley before captain Harrison Burrows pulled a goal back for the hosts.

Substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris hit the bar late on as Darren Ferguson’s high-fliers flopped to fall 10 points behind the top two.

Simpson said: “I’m absolutely delighted for the players and the staff but even more happy for the supporters who made the long journey.

“The lads deserve huge credit for the way they went about it and they were three fantastic finishes from Jon. It’s a brilliant win and it’s all about getting some respect and pride back.

“I told Jon I wanted him to get his crazy legs going and cause problems and everyone saw that is what he did!

“We were brave to go short with our first corner and it led to Jon getting himself a free header for a good goal and the next two are fantastic finishes.

“And when we had to change to a back-five to shore things up, he slotted in at centre-back and did a good job.

“He’s an important player for us and he’s had a tough season in terms of goals as he usually gets a lot more, but a hat-trick like this is a great reward.”

Stunned Peterborough boss Darren Ferguson said: “It’s a terrible result and I’m very disappointed.

“How do I explain today? Probably the best way is that collectively we had an off-day and I include myself in that.

“Forget about league tables and how many points you have – if a team performs like we did today they will get beaten.

“We conceded three really soft goals and the lack of quality in the last third is not something I’ve seen from my players this season.

“You can get away with it when two or three players aren’t at it – but not when we all got a three out of 10.

“Maybe I gave the lads too many days off and maybe I could have made changes sooner. These are all things I have to question before I look at the level of performance.

“We’ve got a mountain to climb to get into the top two, but I’m experienced enough to know there is no reason to press the panic button.”

Boss Darrell Clarke hailed the attitude of Cheltenham striker Aidan Keena after the Irishman’s first goal of the season secured a vital 2-1 win at relegation rivals Fleetwood.

Liam Sercombe put the Robins in front after half an hour but Ryan Graydon levelled for Fleetwood in the 79th minute.

Keena, publicly backed by Clarke all season, then fired in from close range after good work from Joe Nuttall on the left to end a 327-day drought and Fleetwood’s six-game unbeaten run.

Clarke said: “It’s about the lad’s attitude and how he goes about it. He is a great character in the changing room and he has a lot of bad banter but he is working very hard to improve his game.

“That’s all you can ask from your players, showing that commitment and desire and when you work hard and play well you get those opportunities to be able to score a goal.

“It was a nice bit of play, with a great little ball from Joe, who is getting fitter and stronger by the day which is good because we are going to need him with the injuries to our forwards.

“All I can ever ask of my boys is to keep listening, taking on board what we are trying to do and I back everybody that plays for me, giving the effort and commitment that these lads do.

“Keeno has done that since I’ve been in the building and I said to him when you do that, when you work hard, your luck changes. It’s a massive win for us.”

Cheltenham were the better side during a first half played in almost continuous rain on a heavy pitch.

Sercombe opened the scoring after a nod down from George Lloyd, switching the ball on to his left foot and curling into the bottom-left corner for his ninth of the season.

Cheltenham pushed for a second but it remained 1-0 at half-time and Fleetwood asked more questions of their visitors in the second period.

Bosun Lawal shot just wide in the 59th minute after Ryan Broom’s pass and Graydon saw an effort parried by Robins goalkeeper Luke Southwood.

Promise Omochere set up the equaliser for substitute Graydon but Fleetwood were only on level terms for three minutes as Keena won it to take Cheltenham to within two points of Burton in 20th.

Fleetwood boss Charlie Adam was angry with his team’s performance.

He said: “We are extremely disappointed. We asked the crowd to come and give us energy and enthusiasm and they did that.

“But unfortunately we never performed. In the first half, it was unacceptable. I felt it was back to where we were at the start, when we first came in the building.

“Again, I won’t accept it. I won’t accept people jogging or not being at it because it’s not what we can afford.

“We’ll look at it, we’ll dissect it and we are hugely disappointed in terms of the result. It’s a little setback for us but we have to go again on Monday.”

Lincoln head coach Michael Skubala praised substitute Jovon Makama after his last-minute winner in their 1-0 Sky Bet League One victory over Leyton Orient propelled the Imps into the play-off places for the first time this season.

City were not at their best as Orient more than matched them, but they claimed the three points after Makama came on to score a dramatic late goal as they stretched their unbeaten run to 14 matches.

“Jovon is still learning and he has the profile and ability to do well and we know he has that finish in him,” said Skubala.

“I see him in training in every day and I known the quality he has.

“I am really pleased he came on he got the goal to help us get the three points.”

Skubala admitted the free-scoring Imps had had a battle on their hands, producing just two shots on target as they struggled to get the better of a lively-looking Orient side, backed by nearly 1,000 fans.

“It was a tough game for us and we had to scrap it out,” he said.

“We were struggling with the physicality, we were struggling with the wind and with the scrappiness. They played some nice football and it was one of those games when we had to grind it out.

“We weren’t great, but we know we have to have these types of games if we are to do well and scrap it out and fight for points.

“Our back line was phenomenal and it was a tough shift for them. The game is built on clean sheets and all round it was a resilient performance.”

After only mustering one shot on goal in the previous 90 minutes, Makama settled the contest when he blocked an attempted clearance, collected the ball and confidently curled a low shot into the bottom corner.

Orient head coach Richie Wellens felt the “best team lost” after seeing his side dominate possession and chances, only to fall to the late sucker punch.

He also as good as wrote off their play-off hopes, saying: “It was a big mistake at the end and the best team lost. I felt we nullified them and they weren’t really a threat.

“Up until the 90th minute they’d had one shot on our goal and it was a sickener to lose. I thought we were brilliant in the last 15 minutes and looked like the only team going to win it, but when you’re on the crest of a wave like they are, things go for you.

“I thought tactically we were better than them, but we’re lacking in the final third. We should have won it – we have lost two games against these now in the final minute. I feel for the players and supporters.

“The play-offs are all but gone now, but you never know. It’s going to be tough and we’re going to have win all our last six games.”

Aidan Keena’s first goal of the season earned Cheltenham a 2-1 win at relegation rivals Fleetwood.

Liam Sercombe put the Robins in front after half an hour but Ryan Graydon levelled for Fleetwood in the 79th minute.

Keena then fired in from close range after good work from Joe Nuttall on the left to end a 327-day drought and Fleetwood’s six-game unbeaten run.

Cheltenham were the better side during a first half played in almost continuous rain on a heavy pitch.

Sercombe opened the scoring after a nod down from George Lloyd, switching the ball on to his left foot and curling into the bottom-left corner for his ninth of the season.

Cheltenham pushed for a second but it remained 1-0 at half-time and Fleetwood asked more questions of their visitors in the second period.

Bosun Lawal shot just wide in the 59th minute after Ryan Broom’s pass and Graydon saw an effort parried by Robins goalkeeper Luke Southwood.

Promise Omochere set up the equaliser for substitute Graydon but Fleetwood were only on level terms for three minutes as Keena won it to take Cheltenham to within two points of Burton in 20th.

Garry Monk registered his first win in charge of Cambridge as they gave their League One survival hopes a massive boost by beating promotion-chasing Barnsley 2-0 at Oakwell.

Barnsley should have gone ahead inside 11 minutes when Nicky Cadden fired wide from six yards after a low cross was cleared into his path.

Cambridge then took the lead in the 13th minute from an own goal. Mael de Gevigney tried to play the ball back to his goalkeeper but his misdirected pass found the Barnsley net.

Ryan Bennett saw his header controversially disallowed for a foul on the half-hour mark as Cambridge continued to cause problems for the home side.

The Tykes almost equalised when John McAtee met Josh Earl’s cross but his shot came back off the far post.

Sullay Kaikai had the chance to score Cambridge’s second in the 68th minute but he blazed his effort wide after latching on to James Brophy’s ball in behind.

But substitute Gassan Ahadme doubled Cambridge’s lead after 72 minutes, planting his header into the far corner from Danny Andrew’s free-kick.

Bolton lost more ground in League One’s automatic promotion battle as they were held to a 0-0 draw at slumping Stevenage.

Will Forrester came the closest to scoring a winner for the visitors when he clattered the crossbar.

Wanderers have won just two of their last eight matches and have slipped six points off second-placed Derby, albeit with a game in hand.

As for Stevenage they are now winless in their last six and sit a point outside the play-off places.

Despite neither team managing to find a way past either goalkeeper, it was not for the lack of trying.

Stevenage’s Ben Thompson controlled Kane Smith’s fifth-minute cross but flashed his strike past the post.

Boro were then saved by goalkeeper Taye Ashby-Hammond, who recovered quickly to collect Cameron Jerome’s shot off the line.

Bolton started to slowly build confidence and from a corner, Forrester directed Nathanael Ogbeta’s corner on to the crossbar.

Thompson missed Boro’s best chance to snatch victory with six minutes remaining as he scuffed his finish after Jordan Roberts intercepted Ricardo Santos’ pass and laid it off to the midfielder.

Port Vale boosted their survival hopes, with a 2-0 victory at home to Bristol Rovers securing back-to-back wins for the first time since September.

A 10-minute burst either side of half-time saw Ben Garrity and Baylee Dipepa do the damage for Darren Moore’s men in the Sky Bet League One contest at Vale Park.

Buoyed by a first victory of the year against Burton last time out, the hosts flew out of the blocks.

Rovers goalkeeper Jed Ward produced a decent early save from James Wilson’s header.

And he needed to make an even better one to keep out Alex Iacovitti on the 20-minute mark.

Moments later, the Gas were saved by the post as Garrity and Wilson, who was later forced off through injury, tried to bundle the ball home.

Vale had their deserved lead on the stroke of half-time as Garrity nodded home the opener in the 42nd minute.

After the break, Ryan Loft saw a header go wide of the mark as Vale pushed for a second.

They got it when substitute Dipepa dazzled his way through the visitors’ defence before coolly slotting home in the 52nd minute.

Substitute Rhys Walters had his overhead kick saved by Ward with 10 minutes to go.

Colby Bishop scored twice as Sky Bet League One leaders Portsmouth moved closer to promotion to the Championship with a stylish 3-1 victory at Wycombe.

Pompey are now 11 points clear of third-placed Bolton after extending their unbeaten run to 13 games and need three more victories to seal a return to the second tier after 12 years away.

Portsmouth led after just three minutes when Bishop’s shot from Abu Kamara’s cut-back took a big deflection off Ryan Tafazolli and looped beyond Wycombe goalkeeper Franco Ravizzoli.

Wycombe were quick to respond and drew level in the seventh minute when Richard Kone laid the ball into the path of Matt Butcher, who fired past Will Norris.

But Pompey were back in front after 28 minutes as Bishop steered another low ball across by the lively Kamara first-time into the bottom corner.

The result was effectively in the bag for the visitors midway through the second half when Kamara’s chipped cross fell for Christian Saydee and, although Ravizzoli got gloves to his effort, he could not keep it out.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.