Football / Round-Up: Rams start in fine style

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DERBY COUNTY, 1992's big spenders in the First Division who couldn't win at home, will come good this season if yesterday's work is anything to go by. They thrashed Sunderland 5-0 at the Baseball Ground. The Wearsiders avoided relegation by a point in May, prompting Terry Butcher to spend lavishly. Four new signings were involved in a car crash.

Andy Melville, formerly of Oxford, recovered to play but gave away a 10th-minute penalty, converted by Mark Pembridge, Marco Gabbiadini scored the second against his old club and Pembridge made it 3-0 at the break. Two in two minutes midway through the second half confirmed the Rams' class.

OF this summer's other big spenders, Wolves beat Bristol City 3-1, Steve Bull bagging a brace. But spare a thought for Portsmouth, denied promotion to the Premiership in May by one goal, reluctantly selling Guy Whittingham, last season's leading scorer in the country, and seeing Lee Chapman, bought from Leeds to replace him, equalise twice at Oxford. But Jim Magilton's penalty was a goal too much for Pompey as they lost 3-2.

VIV ANDERSON, Barnsley's new player-manager, marked his debut proper with the first League goal of the season at Oakwell. But promoted West Bromwich Albion, who also have a new boss in Keith Burkinshaw, spoiled the party. They had Simon Garner sent off five minutes from the whistle but Kevin Donovan still found time to equalise.

Speaking of sendings off, shortly past the hour at Luton, Watford's Barry Ashby and Jason Drysdale were comparing whatever footballers compare in the communal tub having incurred the wrath of referee Paul Alcock. On the pitch, goals by Paul Telfer and Kerry Dixon secured Luton Town's win in the M1 derby.

SOME welcome. The fixture computer decreed that Wycombe Wanderers had to travel the length of the country, to Carlisle, to make their debut as the newest members of the Endsleigh League Third Division. Chris Curran introduced them to the swings and roundabouts of full membership. Rod Thomas quickly put Carlilse ahead but Curran's own goal equalised for Wanderers and Stephen Guppy put them ahead. Seven minutes from time, Curran's second goal went in at the right end, though not for Wycombe who had to make do with a share of the spoils.

THEY do not usually toast achievement in football in Torquay (they rarely have reason to) but glasses should have been raised yesterday to David Byng, who at 16 became the youngest player ever to turn out for the Gulls. His debut, at Walsall, could not have gone better. He scored both goals either side of half-time in United's 2-1 victory.

Brushing a tear aside, we go north of the border where Rangers manager Walter Smith might be displeased with his side's efforts in the absence of six injured internationals, but they're the only team to have won both opening Scottish Premier fixtures. Falling behind after only four minutes at St Johnstone, Richard Gough and Ian Ferguson led the recovery, scoring in seven minutes either side of the break. Motherwell and Dundee United, who won at Dundee and Partick respectively, are joint second.

NEW SEASON'S greetings to Gary Bennett, who took just two minutes to open the 1993-94 Endsleigh goalscoring account. He gave Wrexham, newly-promoted to the Second Divison, the lead at home against Rotherham, converting the day's first penalty. It ended 3-3.

In the FA Carling Premiership, the handstands started eight minutes later for Everton's Peter Beagrie, that competition's first goalscorer (see match report).

CONGRATULATIONS to Richard Shepherd of Leeds, the fastest referee to the yellow card this season. He booked Fulham defender Glen Thomas after 12 seconds at Hartlepool for a foul on Colin West. Thomas kept up the good work and was sent off after 32 minutes for deliberate handball. He wins a guest appearance in Vinny Jones's next video. Fulham nontheless won 1-0 thanks to a Gary Brazil strike.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST, favourites to return to the Premier at the first time of asking, start life after Brian in earnest this afternoon as new striker Stan Collymore returns to his Roots Hall for the match against Southend United. 'Stan is an even better player than I thought he was,' Clough's successor in the dug-out, Frank Clark, said, 'and Colin (Cooper, ex-Millwall) has proved to me what I felt - that he was the best central defender in the First Division last season.'