EFL: Harrogate make dream start as Sheffield Wednesday begin long road back

Hull City defender Jordy de Wijs
Hull City defender Jordy de Wijs was in a buoyant mood after helping his team secure a first away win since 1 January

For some clubs in the English Football League, Saturday marked a return to league action for the first time in six months.

BBC Sport takes a closer look at five of the more eye-catching results on the opening day of the league season.

'Great day' for Harrogate on league bow

Report: Southend 0-4 Harrogate

Lloyd Kerry
Harrogate midfielder Lloyd Kerry celebrates getting his side's second in their thumping 4-0 win at Southend

Well, we couldn't start anywhere else could we?

Harrogate sealed promotion to the Football League for the first time in their history in August with a 3-1 win over Notts County in the National League promotion final at Wembley.

It's fair to say that even the most optimistic of Town fans probably didn't have them down to start the League Two campaign with a 4-0 away win.

A double from Jack Muldoon and one apiece for Lloyd Kerry and Aaron Martin saw the visitors cruise to a dominant win at a side relegated from League One last season.

"It's been a great day and it's great to get the three points," boss Simon Weaver told BBC Radio York.

"You could see the confidence pouring out of people once we got the first goal."

Weaver said the players would be rewarded with a day off on Monday. Next up? A Carabao Cup tie at Premier League side West Brom on Wednesday.

Owls make first dent in points deduction

Report: Cardiff City 0-2 Sheffield Wednesday

Sheffield Wednesday
Sheffield Wednesday started the season on -12 points

Sheffield Wednesday started the Championship campaign with a mountain to climb following their 12-point deduction for breaking EFL spending rules, which has left them cut adrift at the bottom of the table.

An independent disciplinary panel imposed the sanction after the Owls included the sale of their Hillsborough home in their 2017-18 accounts despite the ground being sold in the following financial year.

But Garry Monk's men made an ideal start to their opening-day game at Cardiff when new signing Josh Windass gave Wednesday a fourth-minute lead.

Jordan Rhodes added a second with a close-range finish just before half-time, and the Owls hung on for three points which could prove precious.

"We wanted to show spirit and unity to the club and the fans, and that was a performance which had that," Monk told BBC Radio Sheffield.

"We are going to have difficult days. I have great belief in these players and trust in them."

Wednesday are appealing against the deduction, but if that fails at least they have taken a step forward on what could be a long road to survival.

Hull start with win after dreadful 2020

Report: Gillingham 0-2 Hull City

Hull City's on-pitch fortunes in 2020 have been nothing short of disastrous.

The Tigers started the year in contention for a place in the Championship play-offs but completely fell apart in the second half of the season, including an 8-0 thumping at Wigan, to finish bottom of the league.

Vital then that they turned over a new leaf to start this season and they managed to do just that with a 2-0 win at Gillingham, a first away win since 1 January.

"It's one of the toughest places to come to in League One and I thought we handled everything they threw at us," boss Grant McCann told BBC Radio Humberside.

"We were in control of everything we did and possibly should have come away with more goals."

Tindall begins Cherries reign with victory

Report: Bournemouth 3-2 Blackburn

For the first time since 2013-14 all three clubs relegated from last season's Premier League started the season with victories. (Can you remember the last three clubs to manage it back in August 2013? Answer at the bottom of this article.)

Watford secured a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough on Friday night and Norwich took all three points at Huddersfield by the same scoreline.

The game on the south coast between Bournemouth, under the management of Jason Tindall for the first time, and Blackburn was won by the same margin but in slightly more dramatic circumstances.

The hosts took the lead through Jack Stacey before Bradley Johnson levelled for the visitors.

Colombia international Jefferson Lerma restored the Cherries' advantage only for Adam Armstrong to equalise for Rovers.

Arnaut Danjuma won it for Tindall's men with a superb curling strike with six minutes to go.

Royals make light of off-field turmoil at Rams

Report: Derby 0-2 Reading

Wayne Rooney
Derby brought England record goalscorer Wayne Rooney off the bench with half an hour to play but he could not help them turn the game in their favour

After a summer of off-field turmoil at Reading, the manner of their away win at Derby would have raised a few eyebrows.

With just weeks to go until the start of the new season, owner Dai Yongge dismissed chief executive Nigel Howe and then manager Mark Bowen departed shortly after when a new man was brought in to fill his shoes.

Such was the speed of Serbian Veljko Paunovic's arrival from Portugal, he had to remain in quarantine for the Royals' Carabao Cup first round tie against Colchester United last weekend.

But after taking the managerial reins full-time this week, with assistance from former Manchester United pair Quinton Fortune and John O'Shea, he oversaw Reading's first opening day victory in four seasons.

Lucas Joao and now permanent addition Ovie Ejaria netted a couple of classy finishes just before half-time and Paunovic's side had chances to add to that after the break.

It was a morale blow for Derby, who could do nothing to change the complexion of the game, even after bringing Wayne Rooney off the bench on the hour mark.

Phillip Cocu will know there is an expectation among fans to improve on their 10th-placed finish last season as the Rams were six points adrift of a play-off place.

Answer: Reading, QPR and Wigan. Well done if you managed to get it right. There's no prize but you should be pleased with yourself nonetheless.

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