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Monday, 5 August 2013

Midlands Football Weekend Roundup


Birmingham City 0-1 Watford

Middlesbrough 1-2 Leicester City

Nottingham Forrest 1-0 Huddersfield Town

Derby County 1-1 Blackburn Rovers

Birmingham were handed a difficult task on the opening day with Watford the visitor to St Andrews. Having only narrowly missed promotion last season the Hornets go into the season looking to avoid playoff heartbreak this time around. City fielded 8 new players but that was not enough to stop Troy Deeney slotting home with a great right footed finish early on. Blues fought hard and although they couldn’t find an equaliser fans should definitely feel encouraged by the performance.

Over the last couple of season Leicester City have had one of the biggest budgets in the Championship and although they have not really splashed the cash this time around there should be more than enough quality in the squad to be up at the business end again this season, and they got off to a good start away at Middlesbrough. Boro had the better 1st half took a deserved lead only to see Danny Drinkwater hammer home from just outside the area. And the Foxes made sure they took home the spoils with Vardy’s brilliant finish when though on goal.

Forrest fans will just be hoping for some stability this season, and with the quality in the squad they will be hoping to be in the playoff picture once more. After all they weren’t too far away last season, only to seemingly press the self-destruct button by sacking their manager. And they got off to a good start this time around with a brilliant move down the left hand side culminating in a tap in for Landsbury. Huddersfield had chances but Forrest played well and deserved the win.

Derby County are my dark horses for promotion this year, and they enjoyed a solid enough start with a home draw against Blackburn. They took the lead through a Johnny Russell penalty, their new signing was off the mark. But late in the day Rovers substitute Leon Best rescued a point, to take some of the gloss off what was a good opening day performance.

League 1

Crawley Town 3-2 Coventry City

Port Vale 1-1 Bretford

Preston North End 0-0 Wolves

Shrewsbury Town 0-0 MK Dons

Sheffield United 2-1 Notts County

Walsall 3-1 Tranmere Rovers

Coventry went into their game with Crawley just happy to be back playing football after receiving a 10 point deduction for their off field problems. But things couldn’t have got off to a worse start as Crawley were 2-0 in 20 minutes. However after a small pitch invasion the Sky Blues got back level terms only to go on and concede once more to give Crawley the points.

Port Vale new boys were handed the difficult task of kicking off their season against many peoples favourites for the division Brentford. And it was the visitors who took a brilliant lead with a fine effort from Shaleum Logan but Vale hit back almost immediately and held on to grab a point.

Wolves began life in the 3rd tier with a tricky away trip to Preston. Wolves have undergone a bit of a makeover with only 2 players starting the game who finished the final game last season. And the young team stuck to their task well and came out with a good point. Wolves will be looking for stability this season and fans will feel that this was a decent start.

Mid-table mediocrity could beckon for Shrewsbury this season and they got off to a low key start against MK Dons. They probably had the best of the game but couldn’t quite apply the finish. 

Notts County got the new season underway on Friday night with a visit up north to face Sheffield United. Best laid plans didn’t last long as County were reduced to 10 with Liddle getting sent off within the 1st 15 minutes. United took the lead and played some good attacking football but County showed some fight as they got back in the game just after half time. But the extra man proved too much in the end as Maguire headed the winner with just over 20 minutes remaining.

 Walsall enter the new season with fresh optimism despite losing top scorer and player of the season Will Grigg over the summer break. The Saddlers enjoyed a very productive season last term and 2 goals from Craig Westcarr ensured that they got off to a good start this time around, with once again the playoffs a realistic target.

League 2

Cheltenham Town 2-3 Burton Albion

York City 1-0 Northampton Town

Bury 0-2 Chesterfield

Burton came from 2 goals down to grab a draw away at Cheltenham. New recruit Rory Delap grabbed the equaliser early in the 2nd half. The promotion hopefuls will no doubt be encouraged by their comeback but will need to avoid similar 1st half defensive performances in the coming months.

Last season’s playoff finalists Northampton Town will be looking to go one better this season but the omens aren’t good as none of  the beaten finalists from the last 10 years have come back to gain promotion the following year. And the new season got off to a disappointing start with a 1-0 defeat to York, in which they also had Darren Carter sent off. It wasn’t the best performance but it’s still early days.

Chesterfield go into this season looking to pick up where they left off last season, and they did just that against newly relegated Bury. The home side beset by financial problems and the task of trying to blend a host of new players together simply couldn’t live with the Spireites and on this evidence they look sure to be challenging towards the top of the division come the spring.

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