The League One season made its eagerly awaited start a week earlier than normal for the start of the 2022/23 season, writes Samuel Rowson.
With fans from all 24 teams still holding some hope that maybe it might be their team’s year. With shock results and underwhelming performances from some hotly tipped favourites, the first game of the season should, in some cases, be taken with a pinch of salt. And that is where we should start with an away loss for Barnsley.
The Tykes tumble and stumble in front of goal in opening day defeat
A crowd of over fourteen thousand saw Plymouth narrowly win 1-0 over freshly relegated Barnsley. A team who have been tipped for a potential play off campaign by some, will hope this is but a blemish on their season. They have reason to feel hard done by as they squandered a handful of chances throughout the game to share the spoils.
Both teams had chances that hit the woodwork before Argyle scored via a well taken goal by debutant Finn Azaz, who is on loan from Championship West Brom. Efforts from Barnsley new boy James Norwood were not enough to overturn this one goal deficit and saw Barnsley slip to an opening day defeat.
Despite this opening day disappointment Michael Duff was upbeat and found the positives from a difficult opening day defeat at a tricky away day in Home Park. “We need to add goals but I don’t think we looked toothless. Plymouth are a good team and you very rarely go away and create as many good chances as that. You just have to score one of them.”
His side will look to learn from those errors as they look to get points on the board against Duff’s former side Cheltenham Town on August 6th.
Colby Bishop off the mark at Hillsborough
Bishop and his new team will hope for more success on home turf next Saturday when they host Lincoln City at Fratton Park. This is off the back of a good point at promotion hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday. With one of the star performers in an impressive second half display being the former Stanley Man in Colby Bishop. Showing the early potential that Cowley has seen in the 25 year old forward when they signed him from Accrington in the summer. Bishop scored the last of the three goals at Hillsborough with a towering header in front of the away fans and will definitely be one of the danger men to look out for alongside Joe Piggot on loan from Ipswich Town. And with his impressive aerial ability Bishop will be looking to improve on last year’s tally of 12 goals in all competitions. He almost netted prior to his goal as a header crashed against the bar before Jacobs bundled the rebound home.
The Imps will also have further reunions when they travel down south to play Cowleys Portsmouth in Hampshire next weekend. Josh Griffiths is the new Pompey number one alongside Sean Raggett who has been with Portsmouth since 2019. However the latter of the two could be out with an injury which was sustained during pre-season, although he did play the full 90 at the weekend.
Derby set to land a Premier League youngster in Dobbin.
Derby look set to get the signature of Everton youngster Lewis Dobbin. The 19-year-old forward is set for a loan spell this year with former Rams boss Frank Lampard keen on sending him out to gain first team experience. With many touting Derby as the preferred destination to help Dobbin grow and improve as a player. Dobbin has played 20 times for the three lions at youth level scoring 8 goals in the process, but is yet to make an impact at Goodison after only three appearances last season.
Lampard need only look to previous loan spells for young players to see the benefits of playing in the lower leagues of the English pyramid to help gain that experience which is needed to help push on and challenge for the first team. With the likes of Brennan Johnson being a recent prime example. However, with the strength of the forward two in David McGoldrick and James Collins who are both proven goal scorers. Alongside potential young prospects of their own in Bartosz Cybulski and David Stretton they might decide against this move.
Cambridge introduce match day incentive
Some positive news regarding the beloved and historic match day programme. With the average number being sold dropping over the past 5 years or more, clubs have often wondered what would spark the interest and get fans buying them again. And top marks must go to Cambridge United and their innovative way of inspiring more interest in theirs.
This news broke this time last week shortly after I had finished putting pen to paper. Cambridge United have introduced a sticker book which you purchase along with 8 initial stickers for a fee of £5. With stickers ranging from current players, legends, old kits and even the women’s team! And the main way to carry on collecting through the season is to buy a match day programme which comes with an additional 8 stickers per game. Meaning by the end of the season if you buy every programme you will have a complete sticker book to treasure. This could really instill a nature of nostalgia for the older fan and excitement for the younger ones.
Now, who wouldn’t love to sit down and quickly open a sticker pack to see if you’ve got a Rhead or a Yeo to add to your collection. However, maybe the trick would be to carry this on for multiple seasons and add some longevity to the idea. But I hope that this is a roaring success and is a blueprint for other teams to follow suit in the coming years to help save their dwindling support for the programme.