MK Dons shine on glorious Championship opening weekend

MK Dons v Chelsea XI - Pre-Season Friendly

Unfancied MK Dons got off to a flying start to their first season in the second level of the English football pyramid since the club rebranded, as two title favourites were held to goalless draws on the opening weekend of the Championship.

The new season kicked off on Friday night, as Brighton & Hove Albion hosted Nottingham Forest at the AMEX Stadium. Winger Kazenga LuaLua scored the only goal of the game shortly after half-time to see Brighton sitting atop of the table overnight.

Dons Romp

But the big story from the openng round of fixtures was MK Dons who, despite being widely tipped for an immediate return to League One, topped the Championship thanks to a 4-1 rout at Rotherham United.


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On-loan winger Rob Hall got things going after five minutes, only to see Matt Derbyshire level eight minutes later. But a deflected shot by Jordan Spence and goals from Dean Bowditch and Carl Baker saw MK Dons record a dominant opening day win.

While MK Dons prospered, free-spending promotion favourites Derby County and Middlesbrough both struggled to 0-0 away draws at the hands of Bolton Wanderers and Preston North End respectively. Both sides were lucky not to fall to defeat as Bolton hit the bar three times in the final 15 minutes of the game at the Macron Stadium, while newly promoted Preston almost stole all three points through a late Joe Garner chance.

Charlton Athletic also enjoyed a successful opening day, defeating London rivals Queens Park Rangers 2-0 at The Valley. Tony Watt's goal with his first touch after coming on as a substitute and Morgan Fox's strike were enough to defeat QPR, who hit the post through Charlie Austin.

Strong Starts

Another side that recorded a 2-0 home victory was Hull City, who defeated Huddersfield Town through goals from Sam Clucas and Arsenal loanee Chuba Akpom. The Tigers were the only relegated Premier League side to open their campaign with a win, as Burnley drew 1-1 at Leeds United in a Saturday lunchtime fixture that exploded into life in the last seven minutes.

Mirco Antenucci looked to have nicked all three points for Leeds, only for Sam Vokes to equalise three minutes later and earn Burnley a share of the spoils.

Saturday's other lunchtime clash saw Fulham travel to South Wales to take on Cardiff City. Fulham took the lead a couple of minutes after half-time as Matt Smith punished goalkeeper Simon Moore's handling error, but the headlines belonged to Cardiff winger Craig Noone.

Eight minutes after coming on as a substitute Noone picked up the ball 25 yards from goal and smashed it into the top corner to rescue his side a point from an evenly contested clash.

Many people's outside tips for success in the Championship are Sheffield Wednesday, and The Owls got off to a solid start with a 2-0 victory over newly promoted Bristol City. Second half goals from Tom Lees and a superb effort from Lewis McGugan, who cleared a shot off his own line then ran the entire length of the pitch to score at the other end, were enough to see off last season's League One champions. 

Brighton & Hove Albion v Nottingham Forest - Sky Bet Championship

Other winners on the opening day were Birmingham City, who claimed a dramatic victory over Reading. Goals either side of half-time by David Cotterill - who scored a massively deflected free-kick - and Jon Toral had put the Blues in the driving seat, then the visitors responded through Nick Blackman.

But then drama struck as Reading were awarded a last minute penalty. Armando Sa  stepped up only to waste the opportunity to complete a dramatic comeback as he saw his spot kick saved by Tomasz Kuszczak.

The Blues' black country neighbours Wolverhampton Wanderers also got off to a great start, recording a 2-1 away victory against Blackburn Rovers. Benik Afobe picked up on his impressive form from last season by opening the scoring on the half hour mark, before Craig Conway equalised. But the visitors took all three points in controversial style, as David Edwards appeared to handle the ball as he diverted Nouha Dicko's goal into the net on the stroke of half-time.

Brentford salvaged an unlikely draw in their home clash with Ipswich Town by scoring two goals in the last minute. Ipswich took a seemingly game winning two-goal lead through a superb scissor kick by midfielder Kevin Bru just before half-time, before Ryan Fraser doubled the lead five minutes after the break.

But a late Brentford rally saw them draw level through substitute Andre Gray and James Tarkowski's 96th minute strike following a goalmouth scramble.

Next weekend's big Championship clashes see Charlton visit Derby hoping to defeat another title favourite, while Ipswich host Sheffield Wednesday and Cardiff make the trip to QPR. On Sunday there's a couple of tasty looking clashes as Hull travel to Wolves and Reading welcome Leeds.

Reading v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship

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