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The stars of the Championship opening weekend

Sunday 7th August 2011
So, the new season has begun, and while its way too early to tell where teams will be finishing in May, we can look at which players were the best performers of the opening weekend, as many players enjoyed impressive debuts alongside strong performances from club regulars.

Will Buckley - Brighton & Hove Albion

Buckley was a £1million addition from Watford during the summer and the he was to make a real impact on his competitive debut, scoring an impressive brace. Brighton's new AMEX Stadium saw an exciting win, after Brighton came from 1-0 down to beat Doncaster Rovers, as well as seeing their manager Gus Poyet being sent to the stands. Buckley's first was a terrific low half volley after Doncaster failed to clear. The ball was drilled into the bottom corner, with the new boy showing great technique. It was to get better after Buckley was threaded through, leaving him a one on one, which he coolly dispatched, dropping his shoulder to side foot home, sending the Seagulls soaring.

Gary Taylor-Fletcher - Blackpool

Following relegation from the Premier League, it will give the Tangerines a confidence boost to win their opener. They have managed to hold onto Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Blackpool had him to thank for getting Blackpool maximum points, as he scored the only goal of the game against Hull City at the KC Stadium on Friday night. Taylor-Fletcher was a key performer in Blackpool's Premier League campaign, and his goal would have been fitting to win any game in the top flight, as his arrowed in a right foot effort from the corner of the box across the keeper. He showed great technique to keep the ball down as it bounced up at an awkward height. That goal will go some way to cheering Ian Holloway up after he described the summer as ‘the worst three months of his footballing life'.
Adam Lallana - Southampton

The Saint's made a perfect start following their return to the Championship in Saturday's late kick off, and much of that was down to Adam Lallana. The exciting attacking midfielder is one of the brightest young prospects in the division, and he proved why against Leeds United. Lallana was to score Southampton's second goal, having been found by Rickie Lambert, Lallana cleverly cut inside Leeds defender Andy O'Brien to curl in off the post with his left foot. But Lallana wasn't finished there, as his instrumental performance continued. This time he turned provider for veteran striker David Connolly. After a neat one-two, he slotted the ball past Andy Lonergan, making it 3-0 and essentially killing the game off. Leeds United were to pull back a goal in injury time through Max Gradel, but it proved only a consolation goal.
Mathieu Manset - Reading

After Reading found themselves 2-0 down at home to Millwall, Brian McDermott threw on big striker Mathieu Manset. The Frenchman was to break Millwall hearts late on by scoring a brace to save Reading a point. His first was a spectacular strike from 25 yards out, rocketing an unstoppable left foot effort into David Forde's top corner. Since joining from Hereford, Manset hasn't found it easy, but he scored the equaliser in the 89th minute, heading home from a Jimmy Kebe cross. With the future of fellow strike Shane Long still uncertain, he will want to stake a claim for a starting place should the Republic of Ireland striker leave the Madejski Stadium in the transfer window.
Michael Chopra - Ipswich Town

In my opinion, Chopra was a bargain for Ipswich Town at just £1.5 million, and went some way to proving what a great signing he is by scoring a brace on his competitive debut for Ipswich in a convincing 3-0 away win against Bristol City. His first was a classy lob, lifting the ball over the huge frame of ex-England keeper David James with the outside of his right foot. Chopra will always score goals at this level, and he doubled his tally on the hour mark when there was a mix up between David James and his defence. Chopra nipped the ball from James' feet and he simply slotted home into an empty net. There was also a great individual goal from Lee Martin as the Tractor Boys stormed to a comfortable victory, showing why they are many people's dark horses for promotion.

Written by James Bolton

Follow me on Twitter - @Bolton0301
James Bolton

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