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Sunday's Division One Round-Up: Week 1

By: Richard Lord
Date: 12/08/2001

AFTER the opening Division One's games were played yesterday, The Fishy's Richard Lord brings you a round-up of all the results; what they mean; how they affect the table; and who-plays-who next week.

The round-up focuses on 7 teams, whose results may centre around Grimsby Town and their plight in the division.

Due to the season being so young, the 7 teams picked this week are ones thought to be Grimsby's main rivals this season, but as the weeks pass by and the table begins to gain more stability, the teams will alter from week to week.

The Results

Grimsby Town overcame an 11-year problem to win on the opening day of the season against Crewe. Despite it being on the first day of the new campaign, it was widely regarded as a 6-pointer, with both teams expected to be in relegation trouble towards the end of the season. The 1-0 victory for the Mariners sees them beat the Railwaymen for the first time since their return to Division One back in 1998.

For Crewe, it was similarly thought of as a game they were able to win, but the disadvantage of it being an away game told. Crewe are renowned for being slow starters, and indeed it was only last January when they beat Grimsby 3-1 at Blundell Park, starting the match bottom of the pile. That win sparked a revival and they were effectively safe before Easter.

Rotherham were dealt a harsh lesson in their first game in Division One when they relinquished a 2-goal lead to lose 3-2 against Crystal Palace. Guy Branston was a central figure in their topsy-turvy opening encounter, scoring but also conceding a penalty, which began Palace's fight-back.

Gillingham pulled off the surprise result of the day by beating Preston 5-0 at the Priestfield Stadium. The Kent club will be looking to keep up the early season form and keep clear of any relegation threats, which may become more apparent as the season unfolds.

Stockport felt the force of Coventry's quest of a quick return back to the Premiership. Sky Blue's new signing Lee Hughes was on the mark in a 2-0 win at Edgeley Park to sink County. Stockport, who finished last season on form, will be expecting another tough season ahead.

Walsall began life back in Division One with a 2-1 win over local derby opposition, West Brom. The match, which was fiercely contested due to the two teams' relegation rivalry from the 99/00 season, gave the Saddlers the perfect start in front of their home crowd.

Norwich could well find themselves in a relegation scrap this season as they were comprehensively beaten by Division One new boys Millwall 4-0. Last season the Canaries failed to get off to a good start and only avoided relegation due to some late-season form. The Carrow Road outfit also began last season on poor form too.

The Table

It is difficult to conclude anything from Saturday's results so early in the season. Gillingham will top the table unless either Burnley or Sheffield Wednesday can forge out a bigger scoreline than 5-0. Preston will therefore be the bottom club at this time, but more importantly Crewe, Stockport and Rotherham all got off to losing starts which can only be good news for the Mariners. However, if Grimsby's new signings can fulfil their potential, there is no reason why this season's round-ups have to be concentrated on lowly teams. As the season settles down, it could be that the 7 weekly teams could include the likes of Man City, Watford and Coventry.

Next Week

Grimsby will face West Brom next Saturday, hoping to come away from the Hawthorns with a similar result to that of last season's. Crewe will face Sheffield Wednesday at home, a game they'll surely be looking to win. Rotherham face Watford at Vicarage Road, Gillingham play Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, Stockport take on Palace at Selhurst Park, Walsall meet Preston at Deep Dale and Manchester City travel to Carrow Road, Norwich. Realistically, four of this week's selected teams could produce a win next weekend. Despite Watford's 3-0 defeat at Maine Road on Saturday evening, they will be favourites to beat Rotherham, similarly West Brom will be expected to beat the Mariners and Manchester City look a safe bet to beat Norwich.

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