EFL: Bizarre bus breakdowns, historic records and a debut to forget

Adam Armstrong
Adam Armstrong has scored five of Blackburn's 11 Championship goals this season

Week three of the English Football League season and we are starting to see which sides will be fancied to do great things and which teams may struggle.

But while there is still ample time for those struggling to turn things around, right now we see an unfancied side storming up the Championship table and a really bad way to make your debut.

And if that was not enough, there was also a side that had to drive to their match in a fleet of taxis after their bus broke down due to an anti-coronavirus spray.

Welcome to the EFL...

Covid-19 1-0 Oxford United team bus

Karl Robinson
Oxford United boss Karl Robinson and his team had to arrive at Accrington by taxi

Coronavirus has, quite rightly, been blamed for many problems in our lives over the past six months, but causing a bus to break down is a new one on us.

But that's exactly what happened to Oxford United as they travelled to Accrington for their League One match.

As part of Covid-19 precautions everyone was using alcohol-based sprays and gels to ensure they kept hygienic, but some of it managed to get into the breathalyser the driver has to use before the coach can start.

Cue the coach shutting itself down for six hours and the United players and coaches having to make their way to the Crown Ground in cars and taxis.

"This week has certainly been sent to test us," Oxford boss Karl Robinson said.

"We had four players test for Covid-19 on Thursday, we've got a flu going round, it's not Covid-19, so we've had players who aren't here.

"It is what it is, we can't change it, we can't affect it, we know things aren't falling in our favour, but it's not going to affect our mentality or our attitude today," he added to BBC Radio Oxford before kick-off.

But the bus problems clearly galvanised Oxford as they romped to their first win of the season - Matt Taylor's late double adding to goals from James Henry and a Joe Pritchard own goal as they came away from Accrington 4-1 winners.

Let's hope that alcohol gel is kept well away from the bus breathalyser before the trip home.

Dolan stars for rampant Rovers as Rams are ravaged

Blackburn Rovers celebrate Tyrhys Dolan's goal
Just 238 seconds separated Tyrhys Dolan's opener and Bradley Johnson's second in Blackburn's three-goal burst against Derby County

"It only takes a second to score a goal," legendary former player and manager Brian Clough once said.

And for Blackburn Rovers, against Old Big 'Ead's old club Derby, it took just 238 seconds to score three and put the game to bed.

One of the early-season success stories of Rovers' form so far has been teenage sensation Tyrhys Dolan, who has two goals in as many Championship appearances in a remarkable introduction to first-team life.

The 18-year-old grabbed his first goal in a 5-0 mauling of Wycombe last weekend, and followed that up today with another to put Rovers on the way to this win.

Dolan tucked in after Ben Brereton's shot clattered off the post, Bradley Johnson had scored another two to make it 3-0 and Adam Armstrong wrapped up a fourth in the second half.

"We scored five last week and we've done pretty well today," boss Tony Mowbray told BBC Radio Lancashire.

"The front three are looking a threat - I hope - to all teams. Young Tyrhys needs to maintain it [his momentum], but it doesn't look like it's slowing down at all."

Blackburn have now scored 11 goals in their three Championship games this season - the most any side has managed in their first three league games this century.external-link

Not the debut he would have wanted

Liam Gibson
Liam Gibson was on Newcastle's books for four seasons and featured for their Under-21 side

Every new signing wants to make a big impression and there can be no bigger one than scoring on your debut - even if there are no fans there to cheer it.

But Liam Gibson might well be pleased there were no fans on his Morecambe debut as five minutes in the former Newcastle defender turned the ball into his own net.

Gibson was a free agent before moving to Morecambe this week, having been released by the Magpies over the summer, and had previously had loan spells at Accrington and Grimsby.

Despite his early mishap Gibson's side recovered and went on to win 2-1, with manager Derek Adams describing him as having been "very good" on his debut as Morecambe moved up to fifth in League Two.

Can Hull continue to emulate the stars of 1948-49?

Grant McCann
Grant McCann was a man under pressure last season, but he has got Hull City going in League One this term

The day is 28 August 1948 - Great Britain only finished hosting the Olympics 14 days earlier, the National Health Service had only been going for less than two months and Hull City beat Mansfield 3-0 in the old Division Three North.

That was the last time Hull City won their opening three league games of the season - until today.

The Tigers - who were abject as they lost each of their final six games last season to slump to relegation from the Championship - have bounced back in style and impressed in their 2-0 win at Northampton Town.

Goals from Keane Lewis-Potter and George Honeyman saw Hull remain one of just two sides in League One with a perfect record - the others being Ipswich Town.

"I thought we showed real bravery to stand up to what they threw at us and then we capped it off with two excellent goals," manager Grant McCann told BBC Radio Humberside.

"We're pleased with the start we've made, but it's only a start."

McCann is right, it is only a start, and they will have to go a long way to match the side of 1948-49 - they won their first nine matches and went on to win the Division Three North title.

Hull fans will be willing for history to repeat itself 72 years on.

Bradford v Stevenage goes ahead despite positive Covid-19 tests

Stevenage's League Two match against Bradford did not suffer the same fate as Grimsby v Cheltenham or Walsall v Leyton Orient..
Stevenage's League Two match against Bradford did not suffer the same fate as Grimsby v Cheltenham or Walsall v Leyton Orient

Stevenage's League Two match at Bradford had looked touch and go as to whether it would actually take place on Saturday.

A Stevenage player was found to have tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, throwing the match into doubt.

Leyton Orient's fixture against Walsall was called off after Orient recorded 17 positive cases this week while Grimsby Town chairman Phillip Day claims their next three games will not take place after a player tested positive.

The Mariners' League Two match against Cheltenham, which had been due to take place on Saturday, was the first of those three games.

A further two Stevenage players tested positive after the club decided to test all players and management on Friday, yet the match still went ahead after talks with the EFL, who said there was "no medical reason" the game could not be played.

"I believe every club needs to get weekly testing in place going forward to reduce the chances of a sudden surge in infection rates," said chairman Phil Wallace.

"We have to find a way to pay for this that doesn't cause even more financial damage to clubs."

In the end, Stevenage travelled north on Saturday morning and took an early lead at Valley Parade through Elliott List, but two Lee Novak goals gave Bradford the three points.