Story by Aaron Bliss
The bottom rung of the Football League ladder saw an eventful opening weekend, with some eye-catching away wins.
AFC WIMBLEDON 1-0 CHESTERFIELD
Relegated Chesterfield saw their worst nightmares come true, as League Two joint-top scorer from last season Jack Midsom pounced on a long ball over the top to hold his nerve and finish clinically, to give the Dons all three points on 35 minutes. John Sheridan was absolutely fuming, after his side had all the play and chances in the first 20 minutes, and could not recover from the sucker punch of Midsom’s strike.
BRISTOL ROVERS 0-2 OXFORD UNITED
The mighty U’s took an excellent away scalp from Rovers, despite having less possession, shots or shots on target. Brighton loanee Jake Forster-Caskey bent the ball into the net superbly from the corner of the box to open the scoring on 22 minutes, and ten minutes later they doubled their advantage through midfield dynamo Alfie Potter. They remained resolute in the second half to kill the game off, and have laid down a marker to where they hope the rest of their season will lead.
CHELTENHAM TOWN 2-0 DAGENHAM AND REDBRIDGE
Play-off losers Cheltenham got the cross off their back instantly with a victory carved from a couple of strikes either side of the break, from Shaun Harrad and winger Jermaine McGlashan. The Daggers racked up more corners, shots and shots on target, but came away with a metaphorical dagger planted firmly in their back.
EXETER CITY 0-3 MORECAMBE
Morecambe had an opening day to remember, as they began their promotion push with a resounding away victory in Devon. Exeter’s fans must have been rubbing their dewy new-season eyes in disbelief, as cock-ups from defender Craig Woodman and goalkeeper Artur Krysiak gifted goals to Izak Reid and Steven Fleming (2), and thus the game to their opponents. Many pragmatists would attest to the fact that Exeter deserved better than the pasting this result suggests, but opening weekend table-topping Morecambe could not care less.
FLEETWOOD TOWN 0-0 TORQUAY UNITED
A momentous occasion at Highbury, as the Cod Army celebrated their elevation to Football League status with a hard-fought draw against a Torquay side who are hoping to repeat their play-off berth from last season. Fleetwood dominated the game for long periods, but also rode their luck, as the Gulls had a late goal disallowed for a push. Expect both sides to be in the mix for promotion.
GILLINGHAM 3-1 BRADFORD CITY
Mad Dog Martin Allen enjoyed a dream start to his Gillingham tenure with a great victory over fallen giants Bradford. A brace from Danny Kedwell, including a delightful lob and a penalty, did the damage, with a further strike from debutant Myles Weston sealing the game late on, after the Bantams had halved the arrears with a penalty of their own from Nakhi Wells.
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 0-2 ALDERSHOT TOWN
Aldershot kicked off their campaign with a comfortable victory over Plymouth. The Pilgrims had a shocker in front of their home fans, managing just 29% possession, though bizarrely had many more chances than the Shots. Manager Carl Fletcher was hugely disappointed at their lacklustre finishing and defending from set-pieces, with the Pilgrims conceding a free-kick which was headed in by centre-back Troy Brown with just five minutes on the clock. The decisive second came after half-time from the penalty spot, after Michael Rankine was taken down.
PORT VALE 3-0 BARNET
Financially-troubled Vale saw off a pitiful Barnet side, who were dominated from start to finish. A Louis Dodds volley on eight minutes set the tempo for Micky Adams’ side, and they further capitalised on an inept Bees’ performance with a penalty with a Myrie-Williams penalty and a cool Tom Pope finish. To illustrate the gulf between the sides, Barnet finished the match without a shot on goal.
ROCHDALE 0-0 NORTHAMPTON TOWN
Relegated Rochdale, with six debutants in their line-up, began life back in ‘their’ league with a goalless draw against Northampton. Rochdale dominated possession as you would expect, but, despite a mammoth fourteen efforts, could not muster a single shot on target, whilst Northampton managed one, but all in all this nil-nil was a lesson in profligacy.
ROTHERHAM 3-0 BURTON ALBION
The first competitive match at the New York Stadium saw the Millers complete a memorable win over Burton, with new signings Daniel Nardiello and Kayode Odejayi giving them a two goal lead in the first 12 minutes, with a penalty and header respectively. The fans packing out the new stadium were chanting familiar refrains of “We want ten!”, but Burton finally woke from their slumber to repel rampant Rotherham, though the game was finally killed off, following Lee Bell’s second yellow card, after a Ben Pringle cross was deflected over Burton goalkeeper Ross Atkins with fifteen minutes to go. Despite the resounding scoreline, Albion gave as good as they got for periods of the match, but Rotherham’s shrewd summer transfer activity made all the difference on the day.
SOUTHEND UNITED 0-1 ACCRINGTON STANLEY
On-loan Reading forward Karl Sheppard proved an inspired signing for Stanley, as he scored the winner with a looping header just after the hour mark, though they were also indebted to goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin, who made a number of superb saves, from Ryan Hall and Michael Timlin, amongst others. Southend also saw Gavin Tomlin’s effort cleared off the line, as Stanley held out for a gritty away win.
YORK CITY 1-3 WYCOMBE WANDERERS
York City’s triumphant Football League return segued into a nightmare first day, losing at home to Wycombe. Matt Bloomfield’s deflected strike gave the visitor’s the lead, and York went into the dressing room with a presumed rollicking, after a magnificent 35-yard volley from Sam Wood doubled Wanderers’ advantage as the half-time whistle was at the referee’s lips. It wasn’t long after the break that Wycombe added to their lead with a Stuart Beavon goal, but despite reducing that deficit a minute later through Jason Walker, there was to be no respite for York, and they were left to contemplate the size of the task ahead of them as they seek to retain their cherished League place this season.