The 2019/20 League Two season is finally underway, and there were plenty of talking points from a dramatic opening weekend of football. The next 10 months are sure to be full of drama, emotion and excitement.
Leyton Orient pay the perfect tribute to Justin Edinburgh
When Leyton Orient won promotion back to League Two at the second time of asking, few would have imagined just how tough a pre-season they’d have.
Manager Justin Edinburgh passed away in June aged 49 after suffering a cardiac arrest, a tragedy which brought the football world together. Saturday’s game at home to Cheltenham Town was Orient’s first competitive game since Edinburgh’s passing.
Tributes to Edinburgh were paid before the game, with two flags carried around the pitch before kick-off including one that was paid for by two Cheltenham supporters’ groups. A minute’s silence was held as home fans held up banners displaying a ‘JE3’ mosaic.
Leyton Orient would go on to win 1-0, and fittingly it was midfielder Josh Wright that scored the only goal. Wright joined on a free transfer from Bradford City and was the last signing made by Edinburgh. The 29-year-old would pay tribute by pointing up to the sky and celebrating with a shirt printed with Edinburgh’s name.
Cheltenham were reduced to nine-men within five minutes of conceding. Veteran striker Luke Varney was shown a second yellow for a dangerous tackle while midfielder Rohan Ince was sent off after an off-the-ball incident.
Orient travel to Macclesfield Town this Saturday while Cheltenham will look to bounce back at home to Scunthorpe United.
Plymouth & Salford live up to promotion hype
Plymouth Argyle and Salford City were two divisions apart last season. Fast forward 12 months and contrasting fortunes mean both teams are among the favourites for promotion to League One.
Since being taken over by the ‘Class of 92’ in 2014, there’s been unparalleled success at Salford. Four promotions in five seasons have seen them rise from non-league mediocrity to the EFL.
Salford’s first-ever EFL game was a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Stevenage in front of the Sky Sports cameras. Emmanuel Dieseruvwe’s double was enough to seal a historic victory as Stevenage created very little to ruin Salford’s day.
Plymouth meanwhile have had wholesale changes during the summer, with former Bury manager Ryan Lowe at the helm. With five players also joining Lowe from the troubled club, expectations were high as Plymouth look to win promotion at the first attempt.
The change in Lowe’s system compared to the previous regime was clear to see, as Argyle won 3-0 away at Crewe Alexandra. Left-wing-back Callum McFadzean didn’t score a goal under Lowe at Bury last season, yet managed to score a brace on his debut for Argyle. His first goal, in particular, was an acrobatic effort that most strikers would’ve been proud of scoring. Joel Grant scored in between McFadzean’s double as Argyle got off to the perfect start.
Salford’s first-ever EFL away day this Saturday sees them travel to Crawley Town while Plymouth host Colchester United at Home Park.
Bradford frustrated by 10-man Cambridge
Bradford City are also among the favourites for promotion to League Two following their relegation last season. Manager Gary Bowyer made a number of signings including experienced strikers Clayton Donaldson and James Vaughan.
Neither of those signings could help Bradford to an opening day win over Cambridge United. Despite Luke O’Neil’s 61st minute dismissal, the visitors managed to hang on for a 0-0 draw, much to the frustration of the near 15,000 Bradford fans at Valley Parade. Cambridge will be pleased with the positive start as they’ve been tipped to be in another relegation fight.
Bradford will look to improve away at Grimsby Town in the early kick-off this Saturday, while Cambridge host Newport County.
Mansfield produce quick-fire comeback at Newport
Newport County and Mansfield Town fans must be sick of the sight of each other. Both teams reached the playoffs last season, with Newport beating Mansfield on penalties to move on to the final at Wembley where they would lose to Tranmere Rovers.
84 days later and both sides faced off at Rodney Parade, and much like their playoff encounter, this game was full of drama. Newport raced into a 2-0 lead by half-time thanks to Joss Labadie and Padraig Amond from the penalty spot.
The game appeared to be over heading into the second half, yet the scores were level after 50 minutes. Defender Krystian Pearce reduced the deficit with a towering header, and Danny Rose completed the comeback moments later.
The drama continued as Nicky Maynard’s penalty was saved by Newport goalkeeper Tom King less than 10 minutes later. The prospect of Mansfield’s completing a famous turnaround ended when midfielder Jacob Mellis was sent off on 68 minutes. Mansfield would hold on for a point which they would be happy to take given their position at half-time.
Newport travel to Cambridge this Saturday, while Mansfield’s first home game of the season is against Morecambe.
Scunthorpe only relegated team to suffer defeat
Three out of four relegated teams from League One avoided defeat, with Plymouth and Walsall winning while Bradford drew. The only relegated team to lose on the opening day was Scunthorpe United, who suffered a 2-0 defeat at home to Swindon Town.
Both of Swindon’s goals came as a result of some fantastic counter-attacking football. Jerry Yates opened the scoring on 60 minutes thanks to composed finish from close range. Swindon’s second came from Keshi Anderson 10 minutes later as a result of another break from Scunthorpe’s penalty box.
Swindon will look to build on their impressive victory when they host Carlisle United, while Scunthorpe travel to Cheltenham Town.
Elsewhere in League Two:
Carlisle United 2-1 Crawley Town
Colchester United 1-1 Port Vale
Exeter City 1-0 Macclesfield Town
Forest Green Rovers 1-0 Oldham Athletic
Morecambe 0-2 Grimsby Town
Northampton Town 0-1 Walsall