Jess weighs in for Bantams

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The gloom of Bradford City's relegation from the Premiership last May after the briefest stay in the top flight has been lifted by their brisk start to the new season. A 1-0 win at Portsmouth thanks to Eoin Jess's 71st-minute strike puts Jim Jefferies' side at the top of the Nationwide First Division at this earliest stage of the season.

Wayne Jacobs and Ashley Ward both went close for the visitors before Pompey's Nigel Quashie's shot hit a Bradford post. Jess won the scrappy match when Ashley Ward's centre found him unmarked a mere six yards from goal and his firm header gave Dave Beasant no chance.

Crystal Palace also made it two wins out of two thanks to a Clinton Morrison double in their 4-1 win over Stockport County at Selhurst Park. Goalless at the break, Aki Riihilahti put Palace ahead seven minutes after the restart and although Karim Fradin soon put County back on terms, Morrison, who scored on his Republic of Ireland debut in midweek, put the Londoners back in front. When County's Aaron Wilbraham was sent sent off with 13 minutes remaining, the game was up and Dougie Freedman and Morrison completed the rout.

A storming end to last season saw Burnley finish one place and two points outside a Nationwide First Division play-off berth and the early form of Stan Ternent's side suggests they could improve on that come next May. A 3-2 defeat of Wimbledon at Turf Moor followed last week's 2-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday to make a perfect beginning.

The Dons drew first blood when David Nielsen fired in after a high ball into the area. Two minutes later Alan Moore was first to a loose ball and equalised and when Neal Ardley felled Gareth Taylor in the 31st-minute, Paul Cook put Burnley ahead from penalty spot. Gordon Armstrong made it 3-1 before half-time and although Neil Shipperley scored his second goal of the season to make it 3-2, the Clarets held out.

Grimsby Town, flirting with relegation for much of last season, are having no truck with another term of struggle. They beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 when Alan Pouton scored from the penalty spot at the Hawthorns to make it six points out of six. Albion have yet to earn a point. Selling Lee Hughes, last season's leading scorer, days before the start of this season seems less and less like a good idea.

Gillingham's brief occupation of the top of the table ended but there was another good performance from Andy Hessenthaler's side as they took a point away from Bramall Lane after a 0-0 draw with Sheffield United.

Preston North End, thumped 5-0 by the Gills last Saturday, went some way to expunging the memory of that embarrassment in Kent thanks to Colin Murdock's 54th-minute equaliser against promoted Walsall at Deepdale. Moreira Erivelto had given the Saddlers the lead nine minutes before the break. Perhaps Preston's sluggish start owes something to their pre-season preparations when the North End manager, David Moyes, engaged in a couple of rounds outside the Marquis of Queensberry rules with two of his players.

Barnsley also had some wounds to lick last week after their 4-0 humbling at Bradford but grabbed a late winner at Oakwell to beat Nottingham Forest 2-1. Kevin Gallen gave the Tykes the lead just before half-time. Forest's Jermaine Jenas levelled with three minutes left, but Isaiah Rankin had the last word with an injury-time winner.

Gerald Sibon and Paul McLaren scored as Sheffield Wednesday beat Crewe 2-0 at Gresty Road.

In the Second Division, Bristol City, Colchester United, Reading and Queen's Park Rangers – some good news at last for the beleaguered Londoners – have maximum points and there are perfect starts in the Third Division for Luton Town and Bristol Rovers, two clubs hoping for a quick return ticket after relegation.