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Result of the weekend in the Football League?

Paul Fletcher | 12:26 UK time, Sunday, 10 August 2008

The Football League is under way - and how.

I wrote our live coverage of the Championship on Saturday and there was a point when I was completely and utterly at sixes and sevens.

It came at approximately five minutes past three as goal after goal smashed into the back of the net. There were seven of them in the first six minutes. I fully hold my hand up here - my fingers could not simply type fast enough to keep up. If you were reading and felt that some of the goals were a little lacking in detail then I can only apologise.

guypa438.jpgIt was great to actually be covering league football again after weeks of speculation and meaningless pre-season friendlies. It felt, and indeed was, real. There were games that left managers seething, pleading for patience or dampening the burgeoning fires of expectation. OK, there are still 135 points for each Football League team to play for but the three available over the weekend meant something. They will still be there at the end of the season when winter has come and gone. They might just make the difference between promotion or a heartbreaking near miss, relegation or survival.

If you were out and about watching your team over the weekend I'd love to hear some of your stories - what made you laugh, or feel ever so slightly self-satisfied or perhaps incandescent with rage.

I think the avalanche of goals and surfeit of late goals - think Birmingham, Bristol City and Brighton - made it a weekend rich in drama and hinted at a season rich in entertainment and excitement.

However, if I had to pick a game of the weekend for each division I would go as follows.....

Sheffield Wednesday defeating Burnley 4-1 at Hillsborough is well worthy of mention, especially given that the Owls lost their first six Championship fixtures of the 2007/08 campaign. Preston can be pretty pleased with their win at Portman Road as it came against an Ipswich team who lost just once at home in the league last season.

But for me the result of the weekend in the Championship belongs to Doncaster, who won 1-0 at Derby County. It might seem a slightly obvious choice but I think generous plaudits should go to Sean O'Driscoll and his newly promoted team. O'Driscoll is a softly-spoken and unassuming manager, the complete antithesis of those who engage in verbal spats and unsavoury touchline posturing. You almost have to strain to hear what he is saying. Clearly, he is more than happy to let his team do the talking out on the pitch.

Donny play attractive football that is pleasing on the eye and by all accounts they remained true to their principles at Pride Park. Rovers went to a side who played Premier League football last season, held their nerve in front of 33,000 fans and achieved a result that should answer any questions they may have had about their ability to perform at this level. Not that I expect Rams boss Paul Jewell will see it that way. When his team were relegated months before the last campaign ended he promised that they would bounce straight back. Now he must deliver.

Oldham manager John Sheridan was the first to roll out the line that "it must have been good for the neutral" after his team's 4-3 win at home to Millwall. The Latics trailed 3-1 with 16 minutes remaining before a salvo of three goals in 11 minutes changed all that. Oldham have been peddling largely lower mid-table finishes in League One since they were relegated into that division at the end of the 1997 season but I think they might have a real dig at promotion this time around.

Life in League Two started sweetly for Aldershot with their 1-0 victory at Accrington. My brother was based in Aldershot when he was in the army waaaaaaaay back in the decade known as the 1970s and developed a soft spot for the Shots. It has been a long road back for the Hampshire club since they went out of business in 1992 but it is good to see them back

However, for the opening day thrashing who can look beyond Dagenham & Redbridge, who demolished Chester 6-0. True, Chester have a pretty ordinary record at Victoria Road and lost skipper Paul Linwood to injury during the warm up but even so finding yourself on the wrong end of six of the best on the opening day of the season really does crush all the pre-season optimism. It is very much a case of back to the drawing board after one game for boss Simon Davies. Of course, even after taking a 6-0 beating, it is perhaps worth pointing out that City are only fourth from bottom. The heavy points deductions dished out to Rotherham, Bournemouth and Luton mean that Chester, or indeed anybody else, will have to suffer a lot more defeats before relegation becomes an issue.

Daggers fans must be buoyant, though manager John Still seemed to have everything in perspective. "I was pleased and obviously cannot complain," was his rather understated assessment.

But please do disagree with my choices, succinctly explain why I know nothing at all about what I'm talking about and tell me what really were the results of the weekend.


  • Comment number 1.

    Errm, weren't you the one that said on BBC sport pages' pre season round up that Doncaster look likely to struggle ?

  • Comment number 2.

    FredPottersflatcap - was I? Whether I did or not, Donny may well struggle over a long season when the depth of their squad is tested to the full.

    But yesterday was a cracking result for them and there is no doubt that they do play attractive football, which I think is somethign for which they should be applauded.

  • Comment number 3.

    Thanks for 'bigging up' the Wednesday result. It's great to see us get some positive column inches wherever they may be and long may it continue eh!?

  • Comment number 4.

    I completely agree the Wednesday match was incredible, I thought I was dreaming. However people may succinctly call into question your opinions because you have used no instead of know. On this occasion u cud av spelt like dis for all I care because we are top of the league!

  • Comment number 5.

    Yeah thanks for the mention of SWFC. Apart from the Sodje injury it was the best start we could have hoped for. However, I must disagree with your opinion that the Doncaster victory was the result of the day. On one hand you had a team used to winning that has played together for a long time and on the other a club used to defeat with a host of new players. I wasn't particularly suprised at a Doncaster win. For me, the result of the day would have to be Preston going to Ipswich and getting the win.

  • Comment number 6.

    Akpo77 - a fair cop Guv, and amended as required.

  • Comment number 7.

    As a Burnley fan who was at Hillsborough I would urge the Wednesday fans not to get too carried away with the result.

    We were an absolute shambles defensively and I doubt their forwards will have an easier game all season.

    Fair play though, they can only beat what is put in front of them.

    The result of the weekend has to be Doncaster's though I suspect as the season progresses it will be PNE's that stands out.

  • Comment number 8.

    i think you need to reconsider your comments about bournemouth, rotherham and luton. we're not relegated. i think we (afcb) will stay up, maybe rotherham but i think luton need a mini-miracle to stay up.

  • Comment number 9.

    what about hartlepool's demolition of colchester ? they've spent big and are expected to do well, but frankly the 4-2 scoreline flattered them in the extreme. first time we've been top of the third tier for 51 years !! unfancied 'artlepool as early season pace setters !! who'd have thunk it ?

  • Comment number 10.

    Fair comment Blakey1882 and I agree that you were shambolic at the back but after the start we had last season in losing the first six then this victory is a blessing! Even though it's only the first weekend of the Championship we have brough some great pre-season form in the start of our campaign and let's hope we hit a purple patch straight away and get a few points on the board. With the proposed takeover set to be completed soon according to all reports, here's hoping for a play-off push!

  • Comment number 11.

    No mention of Shrewsbury's 4 - 0 win over Macclesfield?
    OK. On the face of it, not the stand out result of the day but a real "statement of intent" from Simpson's new look team.
    Yes it was at home and Macclesfield were poor but let's not forget Shrewsbury only won two league games in the whole of 2008 before this one. Only 4 players from that squad featured in this game so it was a new team who haven't even got used to playing together yet!
    I'm not getting carried away but if this is anything to go by, I can't wait till they start to gel.

    Watch out League 2. This could be the year of the Shrew.

  • Comment number 12.

    Paul, I beg to differ on how good the Oldham game was for the neutral......Living in Australia i sat up at midnight eagerly awaiting the commentary. An hour into the game, 3-1 down, I was ropeable and contemplating going to bed after throwing several items and expletives at the computer monitor. After 7 years, my Australian wife barely tolerates the frustration (she hates the football widow tag) and indicated i sleep in one of the spare rooms. I went back to the computer sulking and put the headphones on. Lidd's penalty gave me some hope, then when Allessandra equalised, I nearly raised the roof. I noticed 2 lights come on accross the street. When Taylor hit the winner I was in heaven and dancing in the back patio. The whole street lit up like Blackpool illuminations.
    What made it all the more sweeter was the guy at the back of us. He supports Derby. As I danced, he had just turned off his patio light and headed for bed. He must have heard me as he returned to offer two words of congratulations....the second of which was OFF.
    I hid all day Sunday.

  • Comment number 13.

    Mr Fletcher, are you the BBC guy who supports Notts (sic) Forest? If so, it is no surprise to see which game you chose as result of the weekend in the Championship :) You might not support them and apologies if that is the case.

    The Derby result was to be expected and fully deserved.

  • Comment number 14.

    I was at Leyton Orient v Hereford United at the weekend, and saw JJ Melligan put in a great first half performance to help the O's to victory.

    Most stunning moment was midway through the first half though. Me and my brother were chatting away about the O's chances this season, when the woman in front of us turned round and asked us to stop talking! Her son next to her looked thoroughly embarrassed by the whole thing.

    Anyway, result of the weekend most certainly the Daggers 6-0 home win.

  • Comment number 15.

    Sir Gatsby - please rest assured that I do not support Notts (sic) Forest.

    afcb91 - you might be right but as things stand you are most definitely in the mire.

    L1onheart - cracking story, almost cinematic the way the lights go out.

    DICANIOLOVER - the sheer nerve. Not the Odean, is it?

  • Comment number 16.

    I don't think Derby themselves played any Premiership football last season! :p

  • Comment number 17.

    Fletch - Docaster is for sure a great result, but I tend to agree that PNE beating The Tractor Boys away from home is class. Unfortunately my team are going there next week, but I hope we can show PNE and bring them back down!!!!???
    As for L1onheart - Brilliant story that made me laugh!! - Thank mate! P.S. How can I get to listen to matches from here in South Africa??

  • Comment number 18.

    Still being written off is music to the ears of a Donny Rovers fan! Long may it continue. I can promise you all, strength in depth won't be our achilles heel we've got at least 2 good players for every position. In Elliot, Byfield, Nuestadt and Woods 4 of our first eleven didn't even play at Derby on Satdi.

    The Rovers are staying up!

  • Comment number 19.

    Forest fan here, and as pleased as I was with our start in the championship yesterday, my favourite part of the weekend was when Sonko decided to his face in the way of Moussi's shot. Cant imagine he'll try that again!

  • Comment number 20.

    Come on, Fletch. You know as well as I do that North End beating Ipswich away was the result of the day. That, coupled with the Donkey Lashers from Blackpool losing to a last-minute goal, made your weekend. Always nice to see Burnley get a thumping, too. This could be our season...Irvine's going to take us places...

  • Comment number 21.

    Sorry to be a pedant, but I think punishments were meted to Rotherham, Bournemouth and Luton, rather than measured out in metres. Or perhaps the clubs concerned had to put coins in the meter?

  • Comment number 22.

    I did the BBC predictor last week for the first six games and it came out with Doncaster in 8th as the surprise package. Not sure why there was so much surprise though - Derby are a club a crisis. I think the hangover will be long and pianful.

    That said, nothing is ever decided on the first weekend, but I am glad Doncaster got that first win out of the way, it should make for an exciting game when we (Cardiff) visit next weekend.

    If you want a result of the weekend, look at Wrexham. Okay, not quite football league but they were so hopeless last season - it is a phenomenal start for pretty much new team up there. Kudos Brian Little!

  • Comment number 23.

    I have to agree with ..sc_owl. Donny started with 11 on the pitch who were there last season, bringing in a couple of new boys late on, whereas Derby had an almost completely new side. It was nice to see us getting our passing game going, though.

    I think we will finish about 16th. We have a few players who are easily good enough for the Championship, and some I'd have doubts about, goalscorer Guy being one of them.

  • Comment number 24.

    Surely Port Vale's 3-1 victory at Luton is worth a mention ?

    The first time we have won there since ..... wait for it ..... 1898.

    That was not 1998 mistyped, I really do mean 1898.

    Fantastic result !!!

  • Comment number 25.

    How about Leeds going 1-0 down away from home to a team that was in the Championship last year and getting two goals in about twenty minutes to take 3 points back home to Elland Road?

  • Comment number 26.

    Mr Fletcher,

    I do hope you accept my aforementioned apologies, I must be confusing you with some other member of the BBC staff :)

    Doncaster played very well and deserved their victory. I'm sure that Derby will pull it all together and achieve a respectable mid-table position come the end of the season - I certainly do not expect us to make the play-offs at all.

    There is a whole host of faces at Pride Park and they ought not to have the losing mentality that the players had last season. My main concern is with my fellow fans - we need to rid ourselves of the mentality which leads a significant number of us to get on the backs of our players far too early on.

  • Comment number 27.

    My game of the weekend has to be Leeds winning 2-1 away at Scunthorpe. Never an easy place to go, Glanford park belonged to a revitalised Jermaine Beckford who surely won this game with one of his best ever goals in this league.
    After losing at Wembley to Doncaster and missing out on promotion last May, people could be forgiven for thinking that Leeds, despite being clear favourites for promotion, would crumble. Far from it, the club are on the way back.
    Who needs the premiership when the football league gets better and better!!

  • Comment number 28.

    It wasn't the game of the weekend but Leicester's 2-0 victory over MK Dons was just what the club needed going into its first season outside the top two tiers of English football. Credit to MK Dons, they didn't come out and look to perform a smash and grab on us. They tried to play football, it just didn't quite work for them on the day. We've got some exciting attacking options at the club now and hopefully they will continue to impress as the season progresses.

  • Comment number 29.

    Really pleased with Forest's draw with Reading, Thought we might lose that one but we looked good and with some talent still to come in to the team, we can look forward to many more good results

  • Comment number 30.

    good to see things never change at Gresty Rd with Crewe losing to a last minute goal again! i have a feeling its going to be a long season again

  • Comment number 31.

    Hi Paul,
    I enjoyed reading this article and I think it could make a great regular section on the bbc sport website. Please write more articles based on a 'football league result of the weekend' in the future.


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