EFL Championship Fantasy: Gameweek 1 Review & Match Reports

At long last the football season is here again, and what an incredible opening fixture, and advertisement for the Championship it was, as newly promoted Luton Town hosted Middlesbrough on Friday evening.

Luton Town 3-3 Middlesbrough

Friday 2nd August 2019

A goal (assisted by midfielder Marvin Johnson (£5.0)), assist (for Assombalonga) and booking came for ‘Boro forward Ashley Fletcher (£8.5) with fellow forward Britt Assombalonga (£11.0) scoring but missing a penalty in the second half, blazing over the bar. Midfielder Johnny Howson (£5.0), playing at right-back, assisted Lewis Wing’s (£7.0) wicked curled shot from 25 yards to make it 3.

One striking fact for ‘Boro was the resolute Tony Pulis defence is well and truly gone, with midfielder Andrew Shinnie’s (£5.0) set pieces being a constant threat that they were frequently unable to deal with, with both captain Sonny Bradley’s (£4.5) stunning 20 yarder (Ryan Tunnicliffe (£4.5) with the assist) and fellow defender Martin Cranie (£4.5) capitalising on ‘Boro’s inability to clear their lines to make it 2-1 from a Shinnie corner. Last season’s League 1 top scorer James Collins (£9.0) made it 3-3 immediately after the missed penalty. Collins had a goal ruled out for handball in the second half as well.

Town too failed to deal with set-pieces, with the Fletcher goal coming from a set-piece that wasn’t dealt with, and record signing Simon Sluga (£4.5) in goal made an absolute howler for Assombalonga’s goal, first in dangerously playing out from the back, and then allowing a soft shot to dribble in, and with a final score of 3-3. It was a game that really spelt out the defensive frailties for both sides, with Luton probably being the happier of the two with the result, showing they will be no pushovers this season, and oppositions needing to keep a close eye on defending their set-pieces.

Barnsley 0-1 Fulham

Saturday 3nd August 2019

Perhaps the upset of the weekend came at Oakwell as newly-promoted Barnsley claimed a 1-0 victory over Premier League relegated Fulham. Luke Thomas’ (£6.5) 13th-minute solo effort was the difference in an even contest, but Barnsley can be proud of the performance, being on top for large portions of the game and could have even added to their goal tally, with Mike Bahre (£5.0) going close on two occasions.

It could have easily ended 3-3, with some furious last-ditch defending from both sides, and again the League One side proved more than a match for the ex-Premier Leaguers.

Blackburn Rovers 1-2 Charlton Athletic

Saturday 3nd August 2019

Fellow promoted club Charlton also got off to a winning start, with an away win at Blackburn. Defender Ben Purrington (£4.5) put them 0-1 up just before half-time, but an unfortunate own goal from ‘keeper Dillion Phillips (£4.5) on 54 minutes levelled the game. Forward Lyle Taylor (9.5) claimed the winner on 77 minutes from a Jason Pearce (£4.5) assist to make it a winning start from the Londoners, who enjoyed over 60% possession in a well-earned win.

Brentford 0-1 Birmingham City

Saturday 3nd August 2019

Perhaps another surprise, with a Brentford side noticeably short of forward Neal Maupay, who would complete a move to Premier League side Brighton for a reported £20 million on Monday. The Bees fell short against Birmingham, despite having over 75% possession, with Birmingham defender Kristian Pedersen (£5.0) claiming the only goal from a Steve Seddon (£4.0) assist.

Millwall 1-0 Preston North End

Saturday 3nd August 2019

A Jed Wallace (£7.0) goal was the difference in this even contest. Preston enjoyed more of the ball but did not register a single attempt on target and will be disappointed with the performance. It was the home side who caused more problems, with Wallace’s left-footed shot hitting the back of the net following a Connor Mahoney (6.5) assist, in a vastly improved showing from last season.

Reading 1-3 Sheffield Wednesday

Saturday 3nd August 2019

It’s been a summer to forget for the Owls, yet a good opening win will give fans some confidence, but it was not an afternoon without incident, with plenty of chances for both sides.

Midfielder Kadeem Harris (£6.5) kicked off the scoring with a well taken 30th-minute goal from a tight angle from a Liam Palmer (£4.5) assist. The home side pulled one back after the break with Yakou Meite (£8.5) from a Josh Barrett (£4.5) assist. It took just 2 minutes for Sam Hutchinson (£4.5) to put Wednesday ahead again following a Barry Bannan (£7.5) assist.

‘Keeper Keiren Westwood (5.0) was shown a straight red card for a taking out Mo Barrow outside the box, yet the drama still wasn’t done, when in the 7th minute of stoppage time substitute Lucas Joao (£8.0) netted again, with Hutchinson adding an assist to his earlier goal.

Stoke City 1-2 Queens Park Rangers

Saturday 3nd August 2019

Another opening day fixture to forget, this time for Stoke City, who went down 1-0 as early as the 8th minute after ‘keeper Jack Butland (£5.5) gifted on-loan forward Jordan Hugill (£8.5) a simple tap in from a Bright Osayi-Samuel (£6.5) assist. Despite several chances over the course of the game, the Potteries club just did not have what it takes, and the Londoners added a second from Eberechi Eze (£8.0) on 53’. Sam Clucas (£6.0) pulled one back, but the Hoops hung on to claim a decent win against a side who will be looking to mount a serious promotion push this term.

Swansea City 2-1 Hull City

Saturday 3nd August 2019

Despite over 60% possession, it took two second-half goals in the space of 2 minutes for Swansea to cancel out Hull’s third-minute opener. Kamil Grosicki’s (£9.5) low right-footed shot was helped in by Daniel Batty (£4.5). A header on 48’ by Borja Baston (£7.0) from a Jay Fulton (£5.5) assist was swiftly followed by another header, this time by Mike van der Hoorn (£5.0) from a Nathan Dyer (£5.5) assist.

It was a dominant display from the home side, who were left reeling as forward Oliver McBurnie left for Premier League side Sheffield United a day before the game.

Wigan Athletic 3-2 Cardiff City

Saturday 3nd August 2019

A five-goal thriller at the DW Stadium as newly-promoted Cardiff looked to make the first step back to the Premier League, and took the lead after 20 minutes via midfielder Joe Ralls (£6.0). The home side had the chance to level the game early in the second half from the spot but Josh Windass (£6.0) hit the post.

Two goals in 4 minutes changed the game, as Michael Jacobs (£6.5) hit home, before Joe Garner (£7.0) assisted Windass to make it 2-1.

Not to be outdone, substitute Omar Bogle netted from a Bobby Reid (£9.5) assist to level the game. However, the home side struck a winner as midfielder Lee Evans (£6.0) netted from a Jacobs assist to take all 3 points.

Nottingham Forest 1-2 West Bromwich Albion

Saturday 3nd August 2019

As you’d expect from a Midlands derby, a high-octane affair that offered everything, both good and bad, in a thrilling opener. It took just 8 minutes for Forest midfielder Matty Cash (£6.5) to open the scoring from an Albert Adomah (£6.0) assist.

The home side have high hopes for on-loan Manchester City stopper Arijanet Muric (£5.0), yet two fatal errors inside ten first-half minutes swung the game in the visitor’s favour. Kyle Edwards (£4.5) capitalised onto a first error, with Matty Philips’ (£8.0) cross finding its way into the net for the second from a Nathan Ferguson (£4.0) assist, in what was an excellent debut from the young right-back.

Bristol City 1-3 Leeds United

Sunday 4th August 2019

The West Yorkshire club enters the season with high hopes after last seasons disappointment and easily dispatched the Bristol club. A sensational goal from Pablo Hernandez (£11.5) from an Adam Forshaw (£5.0) assist then saw Hernandez turn assister for Patrick Bamford (£9.5) on 57’. Jack Harrison (£7.5) made it 3-0 on 72’, yet a perfect afternoon was marred slightly when Andreas Weimann (£8.5) capitalised on some poor Leeds defending on 79’ to pull one back from a Niclas Eliasson (£6.5) assist.

It was a solid start for the visitors, and the home side will be disappointed with the performance, yet the magic of Hernandez, in particular, will see Leeds as serious contenders this season.

Huddersfield Town 1-2 Derby County

Monday 5th August 2019

The final game of the opening weekend came at the third relegated club from last season’s Premier League, as Huddersfield Town made it 3 defeats from 3 for the relegated contingent.

Two quickfire goals from Tom Lawrence (£8.0) for the visitors, firstly latching on from a ghastly error from Tommy Elphick (5.5), and the second a wonder strike from 20 yards, leaving ‘keeper Kamil Grabara (5.0) no chance.

The home side, notorious for not being awarded penalties, were handed one before half-time, as midfielder Juninho Bacuna (5.0) was brought down by Keiran Dowell (8.0). Karlan Grant (10.5) stepped up to slot home the only converted penalty of the weekend to give the home side hope.

Despite a much improved second-half offering, Town couldn’t make it count, with Elias Kachunga (7.5) blazing over from 10 yards late on. Derby however, looked impressive, with Lawrence a constant threat with two well-taken goals as a reward.

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