D3D4 Correspondents give you their opinions on the action in week 1…
Carlisle United 1-2 Swindon Town
With expected temperamental Cumbrian weather, Carlisle got their season underway in the sunshine and showers of Brunton Park. Keith Curle included a host of new signings in his squad but was missing 4 men due to injury. Swindon came with hopes of eradicating relegation memories from last season as they made the long journey up to Cumbria.
The weather actually reflected Carlisle’s performance as it was easy to see that they were the better footballing side yet couldn’t form anything productive in the final third. A bright spell in the middle of the first-half from Keith Curle’s men, which included an abundance of corners and half-chances, was totally washed away when Jamie Devitt committed a foul which would be considered by a many to be ‘soft’. Chris Hussey whipped an excellent ball in from the free-kick around 30 yards and the ball was met at the back post, to the host’s dismay, by Luke Norris who headed past new goalkeeper Jack Bonham on loan from Brentford. Norris, however, did pick up a dislocated shoulder as he headed home and was replaced by Harry Smith immediately after. Neither team were able to grasp hold of the game following the opening goal and the teams went into half time at 0-1.
Almost as soon as second-half was able to get going, Mike Jones scuffed a pass facing his own goal and Swindon capitalised and some good play resulted in Bonham making a good save from John Goddard but the rebound was put into the back of the net by Paul Mullin holding off Jones who was racing back to challenge. Despite a hard setback, Carlisle picked themselves up and began to press. It was arguably the most unlikely man that got the Cumbrians first goal of the season, Luke Joyce. The central midfielder picked up the ball on the edge of the penalty box and smashed a strike into the bottom right-hand corner. The goal gave the Brunton Park crowd some needed energy and from then on it was all Carlisle. Dubious refereeing decisions were rife throughout the match but one went the Cumbrians way as Swindon did hit the back of the net for a third time but it was disallowed to Carlisle’s delight. New signing Ritchie Bennett was brought on and provided a much-welcomed presence, numerous chances fell his way and the Swindon back four struggled to contain the former Barrow man who coupled well with other substitute and striker, Shaun Miller. Swindon frustrated the fierce attacking threat that Carlisle offered. New signing and centre-back Tom Parkes limped off to a rapturous applause as he shone at the back in his first outing as Mark Ellis came on. A volley from Nicky Adams and numerous aerial chances made it feel as if it was inevitable for Carlisle to equalise.
The Cumbrian’s efforts were ultimately in vain as the final whistle blew after 4 tantalising minutes of added time. An eventual fiery match had little between the two sides. Swindon will be riding high tonight back down south but for Carlisle, the trip to Fleetwood in the Carabao Cup will have to be at the forefront of the club’s minds to inject some confidence as the season kicked off with a defeat.
words Nathan Ridley, D3D4 Carlisle United Correspondent
Exeter City 1-0 Cambridge United
Saturday saw the long awaited start to the season where we entertained Cambridge United at SJP.
Paul Tisdale went with the same team that ran out 6-1 winners in their last pre-season fixture and a strong bench which included new City signing Ryan Brunt
City got off to a strong start and were awarded a penalty in the 5th minute after Moore-Taylors long ball was handled by the Cambridge defender. Reid stepped up only to see his penalty saved by the Cambridge keeper Forde. Luckily the rebound fell right to Reid who reacted quickest to slot it home.
City could have been 2-0 up after a corner from Woodman was headed to goal by Wheeler only to see his effort hit the post.
Cambridge settled and started testing City more the nearly levelled on 15 minutes when a pass back very nearly left Pym red faced after the ball hit his standing foot causing him to miss the ball. Luke Berry for Cambridge pounced on the mistake but Pym redeemed himself getting back to make a good save low down.
Both teams looked threatening with Cambridge testing City in the air, which called upon Brown, Sweeney and Moore-Taylor to be solid at the back. City looked strong on the counter attack and the pace of Wheeler and McAlinden cause the Cambridge full backs problems. McAlinden had a great chance to extend City’s lead around the 25th minute after Wheeler’s cross fell to him but he rushed the effort seeing it go wide of Forde’s post
Both teams troubled each other, the defences stood strong the score stayed at 1-0 as the first half came to a close.
Cambridge made two changes at half time with Ikpeazu replacing Maris and Elito replacing Mingoia. Cambridge became much more physical when Ibehre and Ikpeazu partnered up top, again City defended brilliantly to keep them at bay. Luke Berry had a great chance to level when Ikpeazu crossed and Berry had a clear volley which he blazed over the bar.
Cambridge really pressured City in the last 20 minutes and some dogged defending by the City back 4 including a last ditch clearance scuppering Cambridge’s best chance after Ibehre beat Woodman and crossed low into the box. Where Cambridge’s on rushing attack was waiting for a tap in if not for Sweeney’s perfectly timed clearance.
However Reid’s goal was enough to give City the hard fought win over a decent, physical Cambridge side.
MOM- Pearce Sweeney – Exeter City
City’s next game is on Tuesday 8th August home to Charlton Athletic in the Carabao cup. 7:45 KO.
Words Jamie Wyman, D3D4 Exeter City Correspondent
Chesterfield 1-3 Grimsby Town
A warm sunny day & a crowd of almost 8000 including 2600 Mariners fans hearalded the start of the 2017/18 at Chesterfield’s Proact stadium this afternoon.
Both sets of supporters were in fine voice as the match kicked off & an exciting clash was underway. Chesterfield were soon on the front foot as loanee Louis Reed & new recruit Chris O’Grady brought fine saves out of Grimsby keeper James McKeown. The Mariners were creating chances too however with Scott Vernon going close & new signing Sam Jones having a goalbound effort cleared off the line by Spireites defender Sam Hird.
Grimsby went ahead on the half hour mark when new man & captain, the experienced defender Nathan Clarke headed in from a James Berrett corner (see video). Grimsby soon made it 2-0when a fine run by another new boy Siriki Dembele putting Jones clear to finish with aplomb. 2-0 Grimsby at half time.
Chesterfield improved considerably after the break & must have spent 80% of the second period in the Grimsby half. Numerous corners & free kicks for the home side looked like counting for nothing until the 81st minute when last seasons top scorer Kristian Dennis, a second half substitute scored with a neat turn & shot….game on??
Not really as Grimsby regained their two goal advantage immediately as Luke Summerfield was unceremoniously upended by Spireites centre back Ian Evatt who received a red card for his troubles. Ben Davies scoring with a thumping spotkick.
There was time for Grimsby’s Zac Mills to get a silly red card for aiming a kick at Dennis before an action packed encounter came to an end.
Grimsby ran out deserved winners but Chesterfield played their part too in a fine game.
Words Ian Bradley, D3D4 Rotherham United Correspondent
Bradford City 2-1 Blackpool
Newly promoted Blackpool were the visitors to a packed out Valley Parade to kick off the 17/18 season against Bradford City. This pitted two teams who had felt both joy and disappointment at Wembley three months earlier, Blackpool overcame Exeter in the League 2 showdown whereas Bradford lost out in the league 1 final late on to Millwall.
The first half saw the away side shade it, setting up with three centre halves and two full backs with the steady influence of Jimmy Ryan in holding midfield. Kyle Vassell and ex Bantam Mark Cullen were a nuisance for the City backline in the opening stages. Play was halted when Blackpool were in the ascendency due to a horrific clash of heads between Ollie Turton and Adam Chicksen, the new Bradford full back coming off much the worse suffering with concussion and a fractured cheekbone. Credit must go to Pool duo Vassell and Will Aimson for responding swiftly to administer first aid to their opponent.
Once play resumed it was the home side who broke the deadlock. A lofted ball in from Nicky Law was met by the head of Tim Dieng and diverted in by Nat Knight-Percival for his first goal for the West Yorkshire side. Blackpool responded impeccably however, neat interplay between Colin Daniel and Cullen cut through the Bradford defence like they weren’t there and the former drilled low into the bottom corner. Game on.
It’s fair to say the second half was dominated by City, a staple of their strong home form. Jake Reeves grew into the game and his all energy performance rubbed off onto his team mates, there were more drives from midfield which was conducive to a more attacking approach from the hosts. A flurry of pinball in the Blackpool half lead to the match clinching goal. After a handball shout fell on deaf ears a deflected Reeves pass fell to the feet of debutant Omari Patrick, instinctively the rookie saw Blackpool keeper Ryan Allsop out of position and curled a corker into the corner from 20 yards out.
Patrick’s goal served as a platform for the Bantams to keep driving forward. The introduction of Dom Poleon from the bench gave an added spark to the home side and better finishing from the ex AFC Wimbledon man could’ve put the game beyond doubt. The Tangerines responded by converting to a more familiar 4-4-2 bringing on double-barrelled pace merchants Viv Solomon-Otabor and Bright Osayi-Samuel but both failed to really get into the game.
In conclusion it was a fairly impressive start to life back in league 1 for the Seasiders, Gary Bowyer certainly has something to work with and Blackpool fans should be optimistic about the season on the pitch. Stuart McCall admitted there are still things to work on for his side but the mental gain from playing at Valley Parade was enough to see them through to kick off the season with three points in the bag.
Words Tom Love, D3D4 Bradford City Correspondent
Coventry City 3-0 Notts County
First game of the season and at home for the Sky Blues against the Magpies. I met up with some fellow City fans in the pub for a few beers, and even though we all are not happy that our owners are still here, we decided to carry on getting behind the team and so refreshed we all made our way to the Ricoh Arena.
Notts County brought a decent following with around 1,700 supporters turning up for their opening match. But the start was delayed due to heavy rain and threats of lightening, so when it did get underway we all were relieved as the atmosphere had started to build and we were looking forward to a good competitive game.
Coventry fielded nine players making their debuts which is a club record, but manager Mark Robins is building a new team and squad, and it was good to see that they seem to gel and each player knew their role. And so it was no surprise when the City took the lead through not a new player but Jodi Jones who took his goal well. Jones has talent but last season irritated fans by not finishing off good runs and shooting poorly when it looked easier to score. But he seemed to have a new lease of life, and was all over the pitch wanting the ball and to get involved in everything. But County did have times when they pressed forward and caused the City defence problems, but the back four and keeper kept calm and although they hit a post never really seemed confident of finding the net.
With the return of Michael Doyle to Coventry’s midfield the tough tackler dominated possession and sprayed passes around with ease, and as captain orchestrated most of the home teams moves. And so the Sky Blues took control in the second half and Jodi Jones banged in a hat-trick which is his first as a professional footballer, and there was no way us fans saw that coming! So Coventry City start their season in League Two with a welcome win but a football campaign is a marathon not a sprint, so it’s early days and a long way to go.
Notts County are a big physical side and showed glimpses of being a decent team, but as a Coventry supporter I just hope we can keep going and keep this good start up ?
Words Kevin Halls, D3D4 Coventry City Correspondent
Crewe Alexandra 2-2 Mansfield Town
Sky Bet League Two title favourites Mansfield Town started the season with a two-all draw at Crewe Alexandra, in a match where the Stags twice came from behind.
Zander Diamond was given the captain’s armband and lead Mansfield out to a roar of yellows from just under 1,400 travelling fans and created the first chance of Mansfield’s season with a deep through ball – Lee Angol raced onto it leaving former Stag Michael Raynes chasing a blue, but fired straight at Ben Garrett in the Crewe goal from a narrowing angle within the opening minute.
Mansfield saw an excellent fluid move down the left hand side nearly break the deadlock on eight minutes as Benning latched onto a sprayed pass following good work from Angol and Byrom, Danny Rose headed over at the far post as Benning’s cross looped in the air.
Straight at the other end, Conrad Logan who was given the nod over Bobby Oljenik after winning an arm wrestle to decide who started [this may not be factually correct] came to Mansfield’s rescue, as Chris Dagnall tried his luck from 20 yards – Logan pushing the ball away before the Stags regrouped to clear.
Jacob Mellis and the impressive Will Atkinson combined on twenty-five minutes and earned the Stags a wonderful goal scoring opportunity as Mellis was fouled. In a central position, Lee Angol stepped up and curled a free kick over the wall and was a whisker away from the top corner, a yard further out and Mansfield without doubt would have been ahead.
Just past the half hour Logan again did well to get down quickly and palm away a teasing cross, but it was the Stags who then had the golden chance to take the lead as Danny Rose intercepted a Crewe throw just over the half way line, Roses’ acute back-heel found Byrom who then split the defence to play in Angol – the former Lincoln City loanee pulled the trigger and dragged wide on his right foot, he had time to take a touch and hit across the keeper on his left.
The hosts then grabbed the opener on the stroke of half-time as Mansfield showed how not to defender a corner – George Cooper’s left footed out swinging corner looped in the air and could have been claimed by Logan, instead the ball was headed back across the box by Raynes and Chris Porter got goal side of Murfin to nod into the net, despite the efforts of Anderson on the line.
After the break, no doubt having had a rocket from Evans during the interval, Stags set about fighting back and just 18 seconds into the second half, Danny Rose fired wide after a neat set from Angol.
Minutes later Ben Garratt made a top draw save to deny Angol after being set by Benning, but on 55 minutes Mansfield were level in a move started and finished by Danny Rose.
The former Bury man collected the ball inside the centre circle and found Mellis, who quickly sprayed the ball wide left to the advancing Anderson who drove forward and held up well, allowing Benning to run forward – a neat spin and speed killing touch to Benning allowed the full back to deliver first time, Rose racing in at the far post – leaping above Eddie Nolan, to head Mansfield back into the game.
A flurry of Stags openings followed but the clinical finishing touch was missing and Crewe, who saw little in front of goal throughout the second half got their noses back in front on 63 minutes, a long punt forward saw Callum Ainley’s cleaver movement drag the defence out of the area, Copper’s sweeping cross headed home by Porter for his second of the match. You can’t get dragged out of position like that and expect not to be punished, very poor defensive play for me – neither centre back was anywhere to be seen when the cross came in, nothing Logan could do about that one.
It took the Stags just three minutes to pull level, Hayden White delivered long down the right and Lee Angol was fouled after a flick on by the deep dropping Rose, earning Mansfield a free kick – Joel Byrom’s curling ball turned home by Murfin at the far post.
Mansfield had the moment and again did well with the ball but couldn’t find a third, Zander Diamond sent a pile driver narrowly wide from around 30 yards, after good movement from Atkinson found Anderson who somehow deflected the ball into a swooping Diamond’s path amidst a melee of players.
Two minutes later Anderson turned provider again as a deep left sided cross was nodded wide by substitute Sterling-James who replaced a tiring Rose, Will Atkinson also saw a powerful effort cannon off a Crewe body after substitutes CJ Hamilton and Paul Digby combined to set the midfielder, making his second Stags debut.
With three minutes to go Crewe got a sight at goal but a fantastic goal line block from Atkinson denied Cooper, then straight at the other end CJ Hamilton danced his way through before seeing an effort deflect up and over the bar.
Conrad Logan, as he did against Gainsborough, rescued Mansfield in the dying embers of the match with a strong save with his legs to deny Dagnall, who then headed over from a Cooper set-play as the game moved into the first of five additional minutes.
Mansfield weren’t finished however and Sterling-James saw an effort blocked from 20 yards whilst in the final minute, Joel Byrom made the challenge he needed to make as the hosts threw themselves forward – the referee then calling an end to a thrilling opening day.
FULL TIME | Crewe Alexandra 2-2 Stags
Hayden White – Zander Diamond © – David Murfin – Mal Benning
Will Atkinson – Jacob Mellis (Paul Digby 77) – Joel Byrom – Paul Anderson
Danny Rose (CJ Hamilton 84) – Lee Angol (Omari Sterling-James 71)
Unused Subs: Bobby Olejnik, Rhys Bennett Krystian Pearce, Alfie Potter
Attendance | 4,933 (1,392 away)
Referee | Graham Salisbury (Assistants L Freeman, K Haycock – Fourth Official R Wild)
Words Craig Priest, D3D4 Mansfield Town Correspondent
Wycombe Wanderers 2-2 Lincoln City
The Imps first game back in the E.F.L resulted in a 2-2 entertaining draw against Wycombe at Adams Park, back by 1,500 boisterous fans who made the long trip from Lincolnshire.
Danny Cowley included in his side new forward from Mansfield Matt Green, star signing from Peterborough Michael Bostwick, former Welsh international Neal Eardley and new centre back Rob Dickie.
On the half hour mark City took the lead with a superb goal albeit with some generously poor Wycombe defending, Nathan Arnold crossed from the right for new striker Matt Green to slot home sending the City fans into raptures.
Their joy was short lived when Jacobsons freekick was heading in by O’Nien six minutes later.
Wycombe took the lead minutes later with a poorly conceded free kick by City being put in with a deflected shot that crept ino the net by Jacobson, City goalkeeper Farman would be disappointed by this, and Wycombe led at the break.
It took city 2 minutes to equalise at the start of the second half with a superb Woodyard pass sending Ginnelly clear who slot the ball calmly past the advancing keeper.
Further chances were few and far between in the rest of the second half, but City had the better chances, but the game petered out to an entertaining 2.2 draw.
Cowley was pleased with the draw, against a good strong side and expects his National League champions to get stronger and look forward to a local derby in the cup on Tuesday evening against First division Rotherham at the New York Stadium.
Words Paul Lee, D3D4 Lincoln City Correspondent
Shrewsbury Town 1-0 Northampton Town
A summer of hard work on the training pitch and in the managers office culminated in Lenell John-Lewis bagging the headlines in the 93rd minute of the opening game at the Montgomery Waters Meadow on Saturday, where Town came out on top against a Northampton side who were generally looking to frustrate and who were happy to settle for a point, which would have been totally undeserved on the basis of the play.
In the run up to the seasons opener Physio and fitness guru Chris Skitt told us that this squad was one of the fittest he has ever worked with and the team definitely dug into that extra level of fitness to still be searching for a winner right until the end, effectively showing the evolution of the squad from last season which would have fallen back on a creaky defence desperately trying not to concede a late goal themselves. The celebrations as the ball hit the net from Hurst & co on the touchline tell you all you need to know about the levels of preparation that has gone into the build up to this point.
Toto Nsiala, Jon Nolan & Alex Rodman all impressed on the day, but you can’t help but feel that the strength available to Hurst this season off the bench will be vital in the say on where the Town finish this season. The Town boss didn’t panic on what seems like most managers standard 60 minute mark, he waited to explode his options off the bench and the fresh legs paid dividends in the final 12 minutes. We may see some more of those benched players on Tuesday at the City Ground when Salop take on Notts Forest in the first round of the League Cup, looking to continue their recent seasons good form in this competition.
Words Ian Evans, D3D4 Shrewsbury Town Correspondent
Accrington Stanley 3-1 Colchester United
Over 300 eager and excited U’s fans made the long trip up to Lancashire to bask in the summer sunshine with the hopes and expectations of a brand new and hopefully successful season on their minds.
It didn’t take long for those hopes to fade as only 9 minutes into the game Kayden Jackson slotted the ball home after running onto a defence splitting through ball from Liam Nolan: Col U were 1-0 down. Following that, just over half 20 minutes later and Billy Kee smashed the ball into the net following a cross that wasn’t dealt with. Colchester were 2-0 down and it was no wonder. Manager John McGreal made some strange team selections. One of the most bizarre decisions was to put forward Drey Wright at left-wing back (a position didn’t play once in pre-season or ever) while leaving 3 defenders on the bench including left-back Lewis Kinsella. Additionally, he decided to put Denny Johnstone and new signing Mikael Mandron up front together. Both players are big target men and not exactly prolific in front of goal. While Johnstone has impressed during pre season, he failed to score many goals (if any?) during the last season and Mandron is yet to be really proven in terms of goal scoring ability in England at all.
Another disappointment for U’s fans would have been stalwart centre-back Tom Eastman hobbling off with an ankle injury just 38 minutes into the match. By this point, however, the game was lost. Although Colchester had a few good chances in the first half, it was Accrington who scored again. A very simple corner was headed on and poked in by Omar Beckles. What had happened to that team with so much promise for promotion?
A number of fans must have thought the same question as unnecessarily personal abuse was being hurtled towards John McGreal and his coaching staff. The abuse was so strong that the club’s owner Robbie Cowling has written an open letter to the fans about it. Mind you, perhaps fan’s patience has finally worn out after over 10 years under the ownership of Cowling and constantly being told the club is progressing despite the club sinking lower and lower down since the beginning of his reign. Nevertheless, that does not justify abuse towards the Manager and his staff. McGreal is a relative newbie to the management game and mistakes are expected to be made. Also, it is worth noting that this is the first game of the season and there are many more to come. Nonetheless, it’s pretty clear what the fans expectations are if it has only taken one game for them to lose their patience.
In spite of all the doom and gloom, Colchester did score a consolation in the 82nd minute thanks to Col U’s own Sammie Szmodics banging the ball into the net thanks to a defected cross from Mandron.
All in all, a poor start to the season and it had better pick up soon or some fans will start to call for some heads to roll.
1 Chapman 12 Beckles 3 Hughes 5 Richards-Everton 4 Donacien (sub – Hornby-Forbes 74′) 7 Clark 6 Nolan 28 Conneely 11 McConville 10 Jackson (sub – Edwards 81′) 29 Kee
Subs: Hornby-Forbes, Brown, Edwards, Leacock-Mcleod, Bloch Jorgensen, Sousa, Dallison-Lisbon
1 Walker 2 Jackon 18 Eastman (sub – Kpekawa 38′) 6 Kent 35 James 7 Wright 4 Lapslie 16 Murray 24 Slater (sub – Kinsella 45′) 9 Johnstone ( sub – Szmodics 45′) 19 Mandron
Subs: Kinsella, Szmodics, Kpekawa, Vincent-Young, O’Sullivan, Gilmartin, Issa
Referee: Ross Joyce Attendance: 1,625
Words Piers Palmer, D3D4 Colchester United Correspondent
Twitter: @Piers_Palmer Email: email@example.com
Exeter City 1-0 Cambridge United
It was an all too familiar story for the U’s as Shaun Derry’s side fell to an opening day defeat away at last season’s defeated play-off finalists. Reuben Reid was fastest to react to a penalty he had seen saved by United debutant David Forde early on, and proved to be the match-winner as Exeter battled out to collect their first victory of the new season.
Jake Carroll’s early handball gifted the home side the ideal opportunity to get the 2017/18 season off to the best possible start, which the much experienced Reid took full advantage of, pouncing on the loose ball to slot home after U’s ‘keeper Forde had got down well to save the initial spot-kick. Exeter had smelled blood, and spent much of the second half on the attack looking to cement their advantage with a second goal, with Liam McAlinden putting one over from inside the area, and countless set-pieces causing havoc inside the U’s area. But Cambridge remained dogged and determined, and held out to go into the break with the Grecians holding a slender, but valuable 1-0 lead.
A series of attacking changes made by Shaun Derry saw United push forward in search of an equaliser, but it was the ‘same old story’ as the away side couldn’t find the cutting edge required to do so – something which had been the case during so much of the previous season. Although chances were created through lively substitutes Medy Elito and Uche Ikpeazu, United were restricted to mainly efforts from range, which were easily cleared. United’s best chance of levelling things up came through talisman Luke Berry, although the attacking midfielder couldn’t keep his effort down from just inside the box.It was, in fact, Exeter who threatened most to find the game’s second goal. Ex-Wolves Liam McAlinden saw an excellent chance to double their advantage saved from close range, with only a goal-line clearance keeping Reid from doubling his tally from the rebound, while Lloyd James saw another close-range effort saved.
Ultimately, though, despite throwing everything but the kitchen sink at it in the dying minutes of the game, United were made to rue missed chances as Exeter remained firm, and held out for a 1-0 win to respond to play-off heartbreak in the best possible way. Grecians boss Paul Tisdale was delighted with the performance from his side, suggesting it was ‘in a bracket which warranted a result’, while counterpart Shaun Derry bemoaned a lack of cutting edge in the final third from his side, but took a number of positive’s from his side’s improved second-half performance. Overall though, it was more of the same for Cambridge, who will need to find their shooting boots, and quickly, to avoid more mid-table disappointment in the season to come.
Words Tom Walker, D3D4 Cambridge United Correspondent