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The 2017-18 season is a mere two games old but by the time the ink is dry on these column inches, some managers will already be scratching their heads wondering where stellar pre-season performances went.
Darren Way must have been first in the queue, watching his side concede 7 straight goals after taking the lead, Luton going on to record an 8-2 win.
Defensively Yeovil improved on Tuesday night losing 1-0 to Wolves in the newly named Carabao Cup and with 2 weeks left in the window, Way might be looking towards more trialists or the loan market to improve their fortunes or as predicted it’s going to be a long season for the Glovers.
Accrington proving the doubters wrong
The complete opposite can be said for Accrington Stanley and John Coleman.
After a fine home win over Colchester at the weekend, they followed it up by dispatching Championship outfit Preston North End from the Cup, and earning themselves a 2nd round home tie against Premier League West Brom and who wouldn’t bet against them turning them over as well.
Stanley have the smallest average attendance and budget in the Football League, but constantly prove the doubters wrong and maintain their Football League status, a model clubs in the National League can aspire to, it’s not all about the money.
Bad luck and wobbly starts
Both sides who came up from the National League over the summer, Forest Green Rovers and Lincoln City, fared similarly on both occasions.
Each picked up a point at the weekend, although Rovers might feel they should have secured all three points having led 2-0 at half time against Barnet before the Bees second half fightback.
City on the other hand picked up a useful point away at Wycombe, Gareth Ainsworth’s side being a noted strong performer at home. Neither side managed to progress midweek and it’s back to the ‘bread and butter’ at the weekend as both try to gain their first league win.
Of the sides expected to be title challengers, Swindon and Coventry both picked up wins, whilst Mansfield drew 2-2 at Crewe. As with the two promoted clubs, none of this trio managed a cup win and turn attentions back to the league to ensure the early points are on the board.
Down in Sussex, it hasn’t been an easy start for Harry Kewell. Far away from the bright lights of the Premier League glitz and glamour, Kewell’s start here certainly isn’t hitting the ground running.
Whilst probably not expecting to beat Birmingham on Tuesday night, conceding 5 goals, 3 of them before half time, on top of the 3-1 home league defeat might already have some thinking it’s going to be a long season without immediate defensive improvement.
Declining in popularity, but dreams are still alive and kicking
The Football League Cup has been declining in popularity since Premier League sides starting fielding ‘squad’ teams instead of a first eleven, but for sides in League One or Two, there are dreams of making it to round 2 or 3 and bag a top team for a payday that might just keep the wolves from the door for the entire season.
While some sides ran some League One and Championship outfits close, five turned over higher opposition away from home.
As well as Stanley mentioned above, Carlisle won 2-1 at Fleetwood, Cheltenham won the A40 derby, beating Oxford 4-3 after extra time, Newport returned from a long trip to Essex having seen off Southend 2-0 while Barnet went east and dispatched Peterborough 3-1.
The rewards for those sides in Round 2 are Premier League or Championship opposition for all.
Gunning for the big guns
Carlisle and Accrington will hope home advantage puts paid to West Brom and Sunderland, whilst Cheltenham will be looking for the same when West Ham head to Waddon Road, possibly with an under-strength side.
Barnet will be looking for the same in their trip to the Amex, Brighton with eyes on Premiership survival rather than cup glory. Newport will also hope Leeds have eyes on the top end of the Championship and Elland Road will see an upset happening.
And while everyone else is into round 2, Grimsby will try again on the same night to also send higher opposition spinning out and mark their mark on a season very much in its infancy.
Written by Trevor Knell
Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37
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