Since the previous edition there has been two full rounds of fixtures completed, and with plenty of upsets and extraordinary scores – the Football League season is already shaping up to be another year of excitement. Ross Gibson takes a look at some of the key stories heading into this weekend’s games:
Blackburn’s terrible start continues – Poor Shane Duffy
As far as starts to the Championship season go, Blackburn are putting in a pretty good bid for having had one of the worst. Nine goals conceded in their three league games thus far, including a 3-0 loss to one of their main rivals, Wigan Athletic – but at least they gained safe passage into the EFL Cup second round, courtesy of a 3-1 win over League Two’s Mansfield Town.
When Newcastle United announced the signing of Blackburn’s Grant Hanley for around £6 million, it was clear to see that was an influential figure on his way out, and one that needed to be replaced. Despite Hanley’s exit, it was his centre back partner from last season, Shane Duffy, who hit the headlines for all of the wrong reasons this week. The Republic of Ireland international managed to score two own goals in his sides 2-1 mid-week loss to Cardiff City, but Duffy’s torture didn’t end there, as he was given a second yellow card in the dying moments of the game for kicking the ball at an opponent – smart move. Did I mention that the 24-year-old scored an own goal in the previously spoken about loss to Wigan? Well, he did. Three in two isn’t bad, if you’re scoring at the right end.
Rovers will look to Former-Celtic striker, Anthony Stokes, to score the goals for them this season – and after scoring on the opening day, followed up by a double against Mansfield, you’d say that’s not too bad a start considering his side’s form.
Blackburn will look to kick start their season this Saturday when they host Burton Albion at Ewood Park, and speaking of the Brewers…
Burton Albion are up and running – And in fashion
Burton’s first ever season in the Championship has already been a viewing delight after they were part of a seven-goal thriller on the opening day, but on the wrong end of that sadly for their fans. Since then, only a 95th minute goal from Tammy Abraham for Bristol City last Saturday could prevent a first point of the season for the club, but they wouldn’t have to wait much longer to see them rise up the table, with Tuesday night’s 3-1 victory not only highly unexpected, considering the Owls aims for this season, but also well earned.
The Brewers couldn’t really have asked for a better time to play Blackburn, with all things considered after reading above, and so they would be worth every bit of the odds the bookies are offering for their success – which is around 21/10, for anyone interested in having a dabble.
Ched Evans helps take Chesterfield top – For a night, anyway
A lot was said about Chesterfield’s signing of Ched Evans this summer, mainly negatives, but it’s paying dividends already.
It was never in dispute that if the Spireites could get the Former-Sheffield United man fit, that they’d have a class striker at League One level, but not many would have envisaged him starting the campaign quite like he has. Four goals in the opening three league games had helped his side go top of League One on Tuesday night, and they would have stayed there until Saturday had Bolton Wanderers failed to take all three points on Wednesday, but their 2-1 win at Bristol Rovers knocked the Spireites down one spot.
Chesterfield’s start will have surprised even their own fans, but as they head to second-bottom Shrewsbury this weekend, the chances of staying in the top-two at least would seem pretty high, but there are in fact five teams all sitting on seven points, Chesterfield one of them, so goal difference may prove vital at 5pm on Saturday.
Fancied Doncaster get their first win
Decent summer signings, added to the retaining of some tidy players from last season left Doncaster Rovers fans feeling confident that their side could bounce back from the disappointment of relegation to League Two at the first time of asking. Instead, they would be given a harsh reminder of the competitiveness that England’s fourth tier can throw up.
An opening day loss to Accrington Stanley followed by the EFL Cup exit at the hands of Nottingham Forest seems to have given Rovers players the wake up they needed. Club stalwart James Coppinger’s equaliser last Saturday gave Rovers their first point of the new campaign, before John Marquis scored the only goal in their victory over Cambridge United in mid-week.
That win on Tuesday night could be a catalyst for Rovers, and they’ll be hoping to make it two victories on the bounce when they head to Cheltenham Town on Saturday. Testament to the potential of the team, the bookies still have Donny at 7/1 for the league title – even after their rocky start.
Blackburn are in turmoil, and Burton will be looking to capitalise on their mid-week win, but will struggle to keep a clean sheet if their three other Championship games are anything to go by. With that said, Burton to win BTTS – 11/2.
Chesterfield will be looking to go back to the top of League Two, and if they are to win again this weekend Ched Evans is likely to be in on the act. Chesterfield to win and Ched Evans to score first – 6/1.
Worth noting that in last week’s best bets, we told you to get on Huddersfield to beat Newcastle – And, the rest is history.