League round-up: Burgess strikes for Holloway to draw satisfaction

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The number of draws on the Championship's first Saturday speaks of a closer than ever chase for promotion, particularly with a quarter of the teams working under new managers. None of them won yesterday.

At Loftus Road, two made their bows, as Ian Holloway's Blackpool led one of his former clubs, Queens Park Rangers, through Ben Burgess's left-foot strike. But Rangers, now under Jim Magilton, levelled four minutes from time thanks to defender Peter Ramage's rare strike.

Reading's goals had dried up in the second half of last season and new manager Brendan Rodgers does not seem to have cured the problem after a 0-0 draw with promoted Nottingham Forest at the Madejski Stadium. Forest had Luke Chambers sent off two minutes from time. At Vicarage Road, Malky Mackay's first match in charge of Watford also ended all square after Danny Graham's opener, turned in from Tommy Smith's cross, was cancelled out by James Hayter's header to earn Doncaster Rovers a 1-1 draw.

Preston North End, defeated in May's play-off semi-finals, needed a late Callum Davidson penalty to earn a 2-2 draw with Bristol City. A Paul Hartley penalty and David Clarkson's right-foot strike set up a 2-0 City lead. Jon Parkin's volley gave North End hope, before Louis Carey fouled him and Davidson levelled.

Crystal Palace striker Alan Lee was due to go to Norwich City on loan but when Stern John suffered a suspected dislocated elbow, Lee went on as substitute and headed the south London side level to earn a point from a 1-1 draw with Plymouth Argyle, who had led through Krisztian Timar. "He's not going to Norwich now - I bet he's quite happy with that," boss Neil Warnock said.

In the Yorkshire derby at Hillsborough, over 30,000 saw Sheffield Wednesday build up a 2-0 lead over Barnsley – "I thought we looked like Real Madrid in the first half," Owls manager Brian Laws said – but the Tykes fought back, it ended 2-2. "A result after looking dead and buried," their manager Simon Davey admitted.

In League One two emphatic wins set a different tone. At Carrow Road, relegated Norwich's misery continued unabated into the new term against Colchester United. Kevin Lisbie and Clive Platt scored two apiece in their 7-1 humiliation of the Canaries, whose manager Bryan Gunn faces difficult days ahead. Newly promoted Gillingham's Mark Bentley took 12 minutes of their early kick-off against Swindon Town to score the season's first competitive goal and Simeon Jackson scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 pulverisation of the Robins.

In League Two, newcomers Burton Albion, at 59 a relatively young club, lost their first match at this level, 3-1 at Shrewsbury Town, but Greg Pearson netted after 62 minutes to become Albion's first league goalscorer.

Finally, the season has ended before it began for Danny Mills, the 32-year-old former Manchester City and England full-back, a persistent knee injury forcing his retirement.