Division One Review – August 12th
By Alan Hall
Updated Sunday, 12th August 2001
Even though Manchester City may have kicked off their season several hours after the official start of the Nationwide league they wasted little time in sending out a message of intent to their rivals as they comfortably brushed aside the challenge of fancied Watford.
Urged on by the promptings of Eyal Berkovic City finally broke the deadlock when Goater made up for some of his earlier misses by heading a Charvet cross past Baardsen. Berkovic doubled City’ lead three minutes later as the home side threatened to run riot.
Watford were then reduced to ten men when Robinson was sent off in the 73rd minute before Stuart Pearce claimed a debut goal for City three minutes from time to give the final scoreline a more realistic look.
After an uncomfortable start at Stockport Coventry took the upper hand once new boy Lee Hughes had fired them into the lead against the run of play. Lee Carsley’s 75th minute strike wrapped up the points for the sky Blues to give them a satisfactory start to life in Division One.
Both Bradford and Millwall enjoyed resounding four goal victories on their returns to the division. An outstanding personal performance from Ashley Ward in which he netted two penalties helped the Bantams to see off the feeble challenge of Yorkshire rivals , Barnsley.
Eoin Jess and Benito Carbone, with an overhead kick, completed the scoring for the Bantams.
Veteran forward Steve Claridge showed he hasn’t lost his goal touch by firing Millwall into a 12th minute lead at home to Norwich.
The Lions added further goals at regular intervals against a hapless Norwich defence which looked like it was still on its summer holidays. Reid, Cahill and Neill were Millwall’s other goalscorers.
Defeated play-off finalists Preston will be hoping that their performance at Gillingham was a one off blip and not a sign of things to come as they were thrashed 5-0 by an impressive looking Gills side.
Two goals in the opening twenty minutes from Browning and Ashby set Gillingham on the way and further goals followed courtesy of Browning again, Onoura and Ashby.
For the opening 38 minutes of the game against Crystal palace it looked as if Rotherham were about to enjoy a fairy tale start to life in Division one as strikes from Branston and Robins fired them into a two goal lead.
Unfortunately that was as good as it got for the Millers as Palace hit back to snatch the points with three goals of their own from Freedman, Rihilahti and Smith.
Dark horses Wimbledon began the season in style with a comprehensive victory over perennial bridesmaids Birmingham City. A goal netted by Shipperley on the stroke of half-time set them on the way.
In the second half further efforts from Connolly and a Purse og moved them into a three goal advantage before Hughes scored a late consolation goal for the sorry Blues.
The clash between big spending Wolves and Portsmouth appeared to be going the way of the Hampshire side as goals from Crouch and Crowe had them two ahead with only twenty minutes on the clock. A spirited fight back by Wolves saw them earn a point thanks to efforts from Newton and Roussel.
Goals from Leitao and Barras either side of a strike by Clememt were enough to get Walsall’s Division One campaign off to a winning start against West Brom at the Bescott.
Likewise Grimsby enjoyed a opening day victory from their home game against Crewe with Burnett netting the only goal of the game.