Some things from the weekend ~ 20-08-12
Fulham, Sheff Wed, Portsmouth, Rotherham
Premier League ~ Fulham fire five past Canaries
Fulham are top of the Premier League for the first time since August 17, 2002. Then, they beat Bolton Wanderers 4-1 at Loftus Road – Craven Cottage was being redeveloped – on the opening day of the season. This time it was Norwich City who were on the receiving end, with Mladen Petric scoring twice on his debut for Martin Jol's side. The result will come as a relief from the Clint Dempsey situation for Fulham's fans and players – the American has said he no longer wants to play for Fulham, preferring a move to Liverpool.
Dempsey might like to ask his current team-mate, Alex Kacaniklic, about life at Anfield. The Swede scored his first goal for Fulham on Saturday, having signed from Liverpool's youth team in 2010. "I was happy with the move here," he said. "It was up to me whether I wanted to leave Liverpool. Fulham really wanted me and I really wanted to come here and it was a really good move, certainly it looks like it."
Championship ~ Owls players test their manager's theory
"In the Championship we won't win many games from 2-0 down, if any at all," Sheffield Wednesday manager Dave Jones said on Tuesday night. The comments followed the Owls' League Cup first round victory over Oldham, in which they had been two down inside 27 minutes. Cut to Pride Park on Saturday and, with exactly the same amount of time gone, Wednesday found themselves down by the same scoreline.
Again they came back, though this time they could only manage a draw clinched by Reda Johnson's 90th minute equaliser. The goal of the game came from Chris O'Grady, who was expected to be a peripheral figure at Hillsborough this season but has scored three goals in the opening two games, after knocks to Gary Madine and Chris Maguire have given him an opportunity to play. Five minutes before half time he turned on the edge of the box and unleashed a fierce drive into the top corner.
"It's a learning curve for us and I think we were just finding out what it was all about but we know now," Jones said. Learning not to give opponents a two-goal head start may be advisable if they are to survive in the division.
League One ~ Portsmouth's new side hold their own
It has been a busy week for Portsmouth manager Michael Appleton. On Thursday and Friday he brought in ten new players to Fratton Park on month-long contracts, before also signing another four on one-month loan deals.
His quickly cobbled together side – every player was a debutant – faced Bournemouth on Saturday and they took the lead through an Izale McLeod shot that somehow evaded the grasp of Cherries keeper Shwan Jalal. An equaliser 12 minutes from time by Southampton loanee Lee Barnard meant each side left with a point, but Portsmouth will be satisfied, given it looked likely they would not be starting the season at all.
"It was important we scored first because I know a lot of players would be running on empty," Appleton said. "I think we are lacking by four or five weeks on some sides, so we will need a bit of luck. But come October or November I think you will see the best of this side." That is assuming the club is able to extend the players' contracts, of course.
League Two ~ Rotherham settle in to the New York lifestyle
Rotherham United played a competitive in their home town for the first time since 2008, opening their season with a 3-0 win over Burton Albion at the New York Stadium. Rotherham's largest opening day crowd for over 40 years, 11,441, watched their side go 2-0 up within 11 minutes.
First Daniel Nardiello scored a penalty, then Kayode Odejayi a header. In the second half Burton's Lee Bell was sent off for two yellow cards, then Ben Pringle made it three for the home side. United's manager, the almost-universally disliked Steve Evans (see the Season Guide with WSC 307 for details), was happy.
"It was fantastic, I thought we started the game really well," he said. "When you go 2-0 up early, then your supporters expect it to be a 7-0 goal-fest. Burton are a good side and had a spell of 20 minutes before half time, we got in at half time and had to wake one or two players up. Second half, I know they went down to ten men, but we were totally dominant." Tom Hocking
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