EFL: Crowd pilots, ladders and a game-changing substitution from home

Blackpool
Blackpool fans enjoyed CJ Hamilton's brace at one of seven games which had crowds on Saturday

As fans made a long-awaited return to seven English Football League games, one manager pulled off a game-changing substitution from his house on an entertaining second weekend of the season.

Isolating at his home in Cornwall after testing positive for coronavirus, Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock still managed to have an impact on their draw with Bournemouth, more than 400 miles away.

His assistant manager Kevin Blackwell revealed afterwards that Warnock had passed on instructions to bring on Marcus Browne, who then headed in the equaliser with 10 minutes to go.

"Neil had a feeling and said, 'let's have a look at Browney', and it was a good shout," said Blackwell. "With the technology now, he had a chat to the boys before the warm-up and at the end and he was proud of the performance."

That was one of seven EFL games that were permitted to welcome up to 1,000 fans on Saturday, as part of a government crowd pilot.

Capped crowds return at seven games

Forest Green Rovers fans
Forest Green Rovers fans saw their side score a 96th-minute equaliser against Bradford
Carlisle
Carlisle used signs and tape to indicate which rows and seats had to be left vacant
Blackpool fans
Blackpool's win was their first of the season as they defeated Swindon 2-0 at Bloomfield Road

Of those seven, only the home fans at League One Blackpool and League Two Carlisle saw their sides earn victories, as they won 2-0 against Swindon and Southend respectively.

Meanwhile, 1,000 home supporters also saw Norwich draw 2-2 with Preston, Charlton lose to Doncaster, Shrewsbury suffer defeat against Northampton and Forest Green hit late to draw 2-2 with Bradford.

Before Saturday, no fans had attended any EFL games since March because of coronavirus, with league officials still hopeful that supporters may return in larger numbers from October.

Sunderland fans watch on from van-tage point

Sunderland fans
These Sunderland fans watched their side's 2-0 win at Oxford while stood on top of a ladder which was on top of a van - not something we recommend

The game between Oxford and Sunderland was not part of the pilot scheme for fans to return to matches.

But that didn't stop a few Black Cats fans from making the very long journey down to Kassam Stadium to try to make the most of the ground not having a stand behind one of the goals.

As you can see from these photos, some ingenuity meant that Sunderland's first league win of the campaign was seen by some of their long-suffering supporters as Phil Parkinson's men claimed a 2-0 victory, with both goals scored at the end their fans were behind.

Obviously, do not try this at home, or indeed the home of any football club near you. Or, in this case, 255 miles away from your club.

Sunderland fans
Just the 500-mile round trip for these Sunderland fans to watch their side's game with this view...

Posh seal dramatic comeback as Dons & Argyle go goal crazy

The stand-out game in League One - in terms of goals scored - came in west London, where AFC Wimbledon and Plymouth Argyle played out a 4-4 draw.

The Dons are sharing QPR's Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium while they are waiting for the finishing touches to be put on their new ground at Plough Lane.

Argyle were 2-1 ahead at the break through George Cooper and Conor Grant, after Joe Pigott had equalised for the hosts.

The game then went a bit bonkers in the second half, with Wimbledon going 4-2 up as Shane McLoughlin levelled, Pigott grabbed his second and Ryan Longman scored.

But two goals in as many minutes from the Pilgrims made it 4-4, with substitutes Niall Canavan and Dom Telford netting to secure a point for the visitors.

Meanwhile, there was a dramatic finale at Peterborough, as strikes in the 91st and 95th minutes from Jack Taylor and Sammie Szmodics gave Posh a 2-1 win over Fleetwood Town.

Sammie Szmodics celebrates his late winner for Peterborough
Sammie Szmodics' late winner was his first goal since his permanent switch to Peterborough earlier this month

A couple of hat-tricks - one of them from the spot

You'll be hard pressed to remember a league game off the top of your head which had three penalties scored - but that's exactly what happened in one League Two fixture.

Salford City netted three times from the spot in their win at Grimsby, as 35-year-old Ian Henderson did the job from 12 yards in the 32nd and 63rd minutes, before Richie Towell added another spot-kick in stoppage time.

By then, Henderson had completed his hat-trick with a 76th-minute effort but he opted to vary things somewhat by scoring his third from open play, helping the visitors to a 4-0 win.

Talking of hat-tricks, Blackburn striker Adam Armstrong also bagged three goals (with just the one coming from the penalty spot) in his side's 5-0 demolition of Championship new boys Wycombe Wanderers.

It was the first ever meeting between Blackburn and Wycombe in any competition and one the Chairboys will want to forget very quickly.

Bees enjoy first win in new home

Brentford's new Community Stadium
No fans have yet been allowed in to Brentford's new Community Stadium

In contrast, it was a day to remember for Brentford as they comfortably won their first league game at their new Community Stadium home, putting three goals past Huddersfield.

Josh Dasilva, Marcus Forss and Bryan Mbeumo all scored in the second half at the Bees' new 17,250-capacity ground, after they said farewell to Griffin Park this summer.

Brentford had already opened their ground with a victory on penalties in the Carabao Cup first round against Wycombe, but will be especially glad to have got their first win of the league campaign under their belt, having lost at Birmingham on the Championship's opening weekend.

The defeat for Huddersfield left them one of only five second-tier sides yet to pick up a point this term.

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