The first weekend of Football League action is over, and it was jam-packed full of goals, incidents and talking points. We take a look at five things we learnt from the opening weekend of the Football League.
1. It’s not as easy as it looks.
Although relegated Norwich got off to a flier in the Championship, romping to a 4-1 victory away at Blackburn, fellow relegated new-boys Newcastle and Aston Villa didn’t fare so well.
Newcastle are the bookies favourites for promotion, but on Friday the task ahead must have dawned on them. Up against a spirited and resolute Fulham team, and a packed house at Craven Cottage, the Toon struggled with the pace and created few clear-cut chances, losing 1-0.
It was a similar story for Villa at Hillsborough, who started so slowly against last years play-off finalists Sheffield Wednesday. Villa improved slightly in the second half, but still went down to a late Fernando Forestieri winner and both teams must improve if they want to bounce straight back to the top tier.
2. Nice to meet you!
As we all know, the transfer window remains in full swing and clubs in League One and Two especially have been as busy as ever. Crawley have been the busiest of the lot, bringing in 17 new faces since the end of last season, while newly promoted Grimsby had nine new players in the starting XI.
Nevertheless, the mass change of personel didn’t seem to hamper either side. Crawley captain Jimmy Smith crashed home the only goal of their game to beat Wycombe at home, mainting their record of never losing on the opening day of a Football League season, while Grimsby welcomed League Two football back to Blundell Park with a 2-0 win against Morecambe.
Maybe team bonding and chemistry isn’t so important after all?
3. Evans is back on the scoresheet
Ched Evans made his first professional appearance in four years on Saturday, scoring in Chesterfield’s 2-2 draw at Oxford.
The 27-year-old striker was sent to prison in 2012, while playing for Sheffield United, but had his rape conviction quashed in April afer serving half of his prison sentence.
Evans will certainly face a lot of scrutiny this season, and Chesterfield have taken a big risk by signing him, but his brilliant freekick at the Kassam Stadium showed he can certainly still score goals at this level.
4. Leeds still lack leadership
This season is one of renewed optimism for fans of Leeds United, with the appointment of Garry Monk hope to breath fresh air into the side and the recruitment of talented players such as Kemar Roofe.
However, yesterday afternoon at Loftus Road, it was more of the same for the Leeds. An early mistake by debutant Robert Green, a sloppy pentaly given away by Ronaldo Viera and a late cherry-on-top from Sebastian Poulter secured a comfortable 3-0 win for QPR and showed the young Leeds team that they still have a lot of work to do.
Massimo Cellino remains at the helm and the sell-out away end were chanting for his departure. Leeds remain a great club but it is still so clear they need leadership to play at a great level.
5. Goals! Goals! Goals!
It is no real secret that the Football League plays host to some of the most exciting football in the world every weekend, providing non-stop thrills and heaps of goals.
On the opening weekend, a massive 94 goals were scored across the three leagues to open the new season with a bang!
In the Championship, Nottingham Forest beat newboys Burton by the odd goal in a 4-3 thriller, Britt Asombalonga scoring a brace to secure the three points, while Burton’s fellow newboys Barnsley lost 4-2 away at Ipswich.
In League One, Neil Harris’ Millwall roared to the top of the league with an emphatic 3-0 thumping of Oldham and Peterborough’s Gwion Edwards nodded home an 89th minute winner in their 3-2 victory at Rochdale.
Meanwhile in League Two, Accrington put their play-ff heartbreak behind them with an absorbing 3-2 win at home against Doncaster courtesy of Sean McConville’s stoppage time winner, while Luton did take advantage of a potential play-off hangover at Plymouth, winning 3-0 to go top of the tree.
With all three divisions so unpredictable, one thing is for sure; this season will provide goals, and lots of them!
Roll on next weekend in the Football League!