The Football League – Weekend Talking Points

Barnsley early woes continue as Wigan lay down the marker

Having been one of the form teams following the appointment of David Flitcroft in late December, there were hopes around Oakwell that serial escape artists Barnsley might just play things a little safer this term.

However, following a thumping home defeat at the hands of Wigan there will be many feeling that the club are destined for yet another year of battling against the relegation trap door. One thing for certain though is that they will need a better first half of the season than they achieved last term – given that matching their previous sensational finish looks unlikely.

We should of course not over react, given that few teams will face a challenge like that posed by the Latics side they faced on Saturday. If there were any doubts that Wigan would not be amongst the front runners then this performance all but quashed those – whilst what this result further indicated is that if the likes of Shaun Maloney, James McCarthy and Callum McManaman are retained, then Owen Coyle’s men will be as strong as anyone.

Yeovil 1-0 The Bookies 

Backed by all and sundry to come crashing back down to League One, the Glovers made a superb start to Championship life – picking up a late win at Millwall courtesy of an Ed Upson strike.

With the lowest budget and wage bill in the division by some way, it was no shock to see Yeovil written off. However, if they can continue to ride of the wave of momentum generated by their surprise promotion and receive their fair share of luck then just maybe they might pinch a place in the division next campaign.

Millwall, having struggled through the final weeks of last season, will likely be one of the easier away trips Yeovil will face. That said, with Steve Lomas taking charge of his first game for the Lions they still had to see off a side buoyed by new manager syndrome.

Coventry misery goes on

Having been docked points on Friday due to the club entering liquidation, Coventry fans might have hoped that performances on the pitch would provide some relief. Crawley, though, had other ideas as they got their season off to a flying starting – racing into a two nil lead. The Sky Blues showed plenty of fight though to claw their way back level, something which should at least offer encouragement for the rest of the season. Nevertheless such is the way with Coventry that brief joy lasted only two minutes as Mike Smith regained the lead for Crawley – ensuring yet another day of frustration for the Sky Blues.

Of course this hiccup is only a mere pebble in the road compared to the mountainous challenges they are facing off the field – problems which will most definitely come home to roost on Saturday when the club plays its first home game of the season in Northampton.

Gillingham let down promoted quartet

It was so nearly a full house of impressive results for the quartet promoted from League Two, however champions Gillingham were the one let down as they were beaten by Colchester at the Priestfield.

Runners up Port Vale impressively held the highly fancied Brentford, Rotherham producing a stunning comeback from 3-1 down to steal a late point at Crewe and playoff winners Bradford were perhaps the biggest success as a late goal from Roy McArdle clinched a 2-2 draw at fellow League One new boys Bristol City.

In truth if you were to have identified one of the promoted bunch to have picked up a win it would have been Gillingham given that Colchester only narrowly clinched survival last term and have done little to indicate this season will be any different – making Saturday’s a defeat a real worry for a side who would have been hopeful of pushing for at least a mid-table finish.

For the other three sides, these early performances offer plenty of encouragement for the rest of the campaign – given how tight the gap is between the divisions, one could just prove to be the surprise package of the campaign.

Portsmouth revival hits the buffers

The start of a bright new era didn’t quite go to plan for Pompey, with Oxford mastering the trick of party pooping. Backed by a League Two record crowd of over 18,000 and tipped by many for promotion, this is meant to be the season where Portsmouth begin there ascent back to where they belong.

Oxford, though, had other ideas – recovering from an opening spell which saw Portsmouth dominate to record a stunning 4-1 victory. Having missed out on the playoffs by just four points last term, this result indicates Oxford have what it takes to go one better this time.

For Portsmouth this will be somewhat of a blow but given what the club has endured in recent years they will not lose any heart from this result – although it will put into perspective the task that Guy Whittingham’s men face this season, whilst those making the relatively lazy assumption that Pompey would walk the league might need to rethink things.

Newport make up for lost time

One side who definitely did live up to the occasion on Saturday were new boys Newport, who after a 46 year absence marked their return to the football league in dreamy style – with a 4-1 over Accrington.

There will of course be tougher challenges to come than a Stanley side who finished in a lowly 18th last term, but with Newport carrying a substantial amount of momentum with them into League Two there is every chance that they could be one of surprise packages of the season.