A dream debut and a goalscoring return

7 Aug

Five things you may have missed

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A beautiful sunny day greeted the first Saturday of the English Football League season, just 68 days after the 2015-16 campaign came to a close with the League Two play-off final at Wembley.

Relegated Norwich City recorded an emphatic 4-1 win at Blackburn to go top of the Championship, while Millwall and Luton rose to the summit of the fledgling League One and League Two tables respectively.

Here, BBC Sport rounds up five pieces of action you may have missed from the first round of EFL fixtures.

Midas goalscoring touch

Grant Ward<!–

Grant Ward had only scored two goals in his senior career before making his debut for Ipswich

Every player dreams of netting on their debut – but Ipswich Town’s Grant Ward must be pinching himself following his first appearance for the Tractor Boys.

The 21-year-old winger moved to Portman Road on Monday from Tottenham Hotspur and had to settle for a place on the bench against Barnsley.

Introduced at half-time, Ward scored with his first touch after just 39 seconds to put Ipswich 1-0 up.

After the Tykes had equalised, Ward put Town back ahead with his second just after the hour mark, before completing his hat-trick with a low drive six minutes before full-time.

Bagging three goals on debut in a 4-2 win is not a bad way to introduce yourself to a new set of fans.

Evans nets on his return

Ched Evans<!–

Former Sheffield United striker Ched Evans scored on his debut for Chesterfield at Oxford

Ched Evans made his first professional appearance for over four years on Saturday after joining Chesterfield this summer.

The 27-year-old was sent to prison in 2012, but had his rape conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal in April.

Evans, who has always denied the charges against him, faces a retrial in October but signed a one-year deal with the Spireites in June.

The Welshman started their League One fixture at Oxford and overcame the jeers of the U’s supporters to score the equaliser from a second-half free-kick as the game ended 1-1.

Evans, who netted 35 goals for Sheffield United in 2011-12, has now scored 11 goals in his last eight club appearances.

New boys make an impact

Gary Johnson and Paul Hurst<!–

Both Cheltenham boss Gary Johnson and Grimsby counterpart Paul Hurst saw their promoted sides get off the mark in League Two

A new campaign means two new arrivals from the National League, and this season Cheltenham Town and Grimsby Town are back in the EFL.

The Robins got off to the worst possible start at home to Leyton Orient, conceding the first goal of the afternoon inside four minutes.

However, Gary Johnson’s side fought back and substitute Billy Waters rescued a point with 14 minutes remaining.

Grimsby’s return to the League was more impressive as the Mariners recorded a 2-0 win over Morecambe at Blundell Park.

Kayden Jackson put the hosts ahead early on and a free-kick from Ben Davies doubled their lead. Not even a red card for Josh Gowling with 19 minutes left could spoil their day in front of over 6,000 supporters in Cleethorpes.

Getting to know you

Crawley head coach Dermot Drummy<!–

Crawley head coach Dermot Drummy could have named a full starting XI of debutants

The transfer window proves to be a hive of activity for clubs in League One and League Two, but nobody has topped Crawley Town for signings this summer.

The Reds have brought in 17 new players since the end of last season, and included eight debutants in their starting XI for their League Two opener against Wycombe Wanderers.

It did not seem to affect the West Sussex club though, as skipper Jimmy Smith struck the only goal to give Dermot Drummy a first win as Crawley head coach.

Drummy handed two other players their debuts from the bench late on, while new Chairboys striker Adebayo Akinfenwa was unable make an impact as a substitute.

Fitting tribute to Dolan

Reading players during a minute's applause in memory of Eamonn Dolan<!–

Reading’s players took part in a minute’s applause in memory of Eamonn Dolan ahead of kick-off

Reading staged a tribute to former academy coach Eamonn Dolan ahead of their Championship match against Preston.

The Irishman, who passed away aged 48 in June after a battle with cancer, had a stand at the Madejski Stadium officially named after him before kick-off.

Dolan’s nine-year-old son Seamus led the teams out and there was a minute’s applause ahead of the match, which Reading went on to win 1-0.

Dolan brought 32 players through the youth academy to make their debuts for the Royals during more than a decade with the Berkshire club.

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