This weekend marked the beginning of a brand-new season across all three divisions of the EFL, and a long-awaited return for football to our screens, stadia and social lives – though for fans of League Two outfit Yeovil Town, pre-season optimism was swiftly crushed as the Glovers were pulled apart 8-2 away at Luton.
In the EFL Championship, three first-half goals from Bristol City courtesy of new signing Famara Diedhiou and a brace from Bobby Reid saw the Robins dismiss Barnsley with ease despite Ryan Hedge’s consolation effort late into injury time.
Reading came within a penalty shoot-out of Premier League football in May, but fell to an opening day defeat away at Queens Park Rangers by two goals to nil.
Contrastingly, Sheffield United enjoyed a profitable first match back in the second tier, Billy Sharp’s first-half goal easing them to three points against Brentford.
Wolves, Preston North End, Ipswich, Cardiff and Nottingham Forest would all enjoy victories by the same scoreline against Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday, Birmingham, Burton and Millwall respectively, and the two ‘headline’ fixtures of the opening day – Sunderland’s first match since relegation from the top flight against Derby and Norwich’s trip to Craven Cottage to face Fulham – ended in a pair of 1-1 draws.
Aston Villa’s match versus Hull City is still in progress at the time of writing, with John Terry making his long-awaited club debut after signing from Premier League champions Chelsea.
The net result of the opening round of fixtures is an early lead for Bristol City, courtesy of their superior goal-scoring record. Sunderland fall to an unlucky 13th, with Reading rounding out the table in 24th.
League 2 champions Portsmouth made a similarly positive start to life in the EFL League 1, turning aside Rochdale 2-0 in front of a near sell-out crowd at Fratton Park courtesy of Brett Pitman’s double.
Oxford United and Fleetwood would match the scoreline in their respective games against Oldham and Rotherham, with Bradford, Bury, Wigan, Peterborough and Shrewsbury the other sides enjoying three points on the opening day.
Blackburn Rovers’ fans have had precious few reasons to sing in recent years – particularly in light of their relegation from the second flight last season – and a 2-1 defeat to Southend will have done little to dissipate the sense of negativity at Ewood Park.
Doncaster Rovers’ draw with Gillingham was the only goalless tie.
Stevenage and Newport County played out another high-scoring affair in the EFL League 2, cancelling one another out in a 3-3 draw at the Lamex Stadium.
Swindon Town began life under new manager David Flitcroft – and in the fourth tier for the first time since 2011 – with a 2-1 victory away at Carlisle after goals from Luke Norris and recent signing Paul Mullin set the Reds on their way to three points.
Accrington, Grimsby, Coventry, Port Vale and Morecambe all registered healthy wins, as did Exeter against Cambridge after a fifth-minute goal from Reuben Reid.
Forest Green Rovers had been on course for a first win on their Football League debut against Barnet, but two goals for the visitors in a five-minute spell either side of the hour mark denied them in a 2-2 draw.
Wycombe’s draw with Lincoln and Crewe’s with Mansfield rounded out the opening weekend action across all three EFL divisions.