BY STEVE MITCHELL
ARGENTINE JOY AT THE CITY GROUND
The 1978-79 football season kicked off earlier today and First Division champions Nottingham Forest suffered an opening day scare at the City Ground. Brian Clough’s side looked to have a relatively straight-forward start to the defence of their crown as they entertained newly promoted Tottenham Hotspur and things were going according to plan when Martin O’Neill carried on his good goalscoring form to put the hosts ahead early in the match.
Spurs were showcasing their two new Argentine stars, Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa, and the latter proved an immediate hit with the travelling fans when he drew the North London side level on 27 minutes. Having conceded only 24 times last term, Forest and England goalkeeper Peter Shilton will have been unhappy at having his goal breached in the first half an hour of the new campaign. Forest may find this season much tougher going than their extraordinary return to the top-flight.
KING OF THE BRIDGE:
One of the favourites to mount a title challenge again this season are Everton and the Toffees got their new campaign off to a flyer in the Stamford Bridge sunshine against Chelsea. Gordon Lee’s side included new summer signing Micky Walsh who arrived from Blackpool and the Merseyside club could not have asked for a better start when after only five minutes Chelsea goalkeeper, Peter Bonetti, made a mess of clearing a free-kick after being challenged by visitors’ skipper Mick Lyons and after the ball finally ended up at the feet of Andy King, he swivelled superbly from 18 yards out to lob the ball over the former England custodian.
Everton faltered badly in the run-in last term and Lee has been at pains to stress that this will not be the case this season. The Goodison Park faithful will be hoping he stays true to his word.
Elsewhere, title favourites Liverpool suffered a scare at Anfield before goals from Kenny Dalglish and Steve Heighway gave them victory over Queens Park Rangers. Scottish international striker Joe Jordan was on target for Manchester United as they narrowly beat Birmingham City at Old Trafford.
Two goals from Liam Brady saw Arsenal over the line at Highbury against Leeds United and another of the pre-season favourites, Manchester City, drew with Derby County at the Baseball Ground. Newly promoted Bolton Wanderers slipped up at home to Bristol City despite going in front through Alan Gowling, and the other new boys – Southampton – were comfortably beaten 3-1 at Carrow Road by Norwich City.
West Bromwich Albion got their revenge for last season’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Ipswich Town by beating Bobby Robson’s men 2-1 at the Hawthorns. Andy Gray got the only goal as Aston Villa beat Wolves at Villa Park and Coventry City pulled off a surprise when they claimed an opening day win at Ayresome Park against Middlesbrough.
FIRST DIVISION RESULTS SATURDAY 19TH AUGUST:
Arsenal 2 – 1 Leeds United (Brady 2, 1 pen; Currie).
Aston Villa 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers (Gray)
Bolton Wanderers 1 -2 Bristol City (Gowling; Mann, Ritchie)
Chelsea 0-1 Everton (King)
Derby County 1-1 Manchester City (George; Kidd)
Liverpool 2-1 Queens Park Rangers (Dalglish, Heighway; McGee)
Manchester United 1-0 Birmingham City (Jordan)
Middlesbrough 1-2 Coventry City (Woof; Powell, Ferguson)
Norwich 3-1 Southampton (Reeves, Ryan, Chivers; MacDougall)
Nottingham Forest 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur (O’Neill; Villa)
West Bromwich Albion 2-1 Ipswich Town (Brown A., Regis; Woods)
UPCOMING FIXTURES, TUESDAY AUGUST 22
Birmingham City v Middlesbrough
Bristol City v Norwich City
Coventry v Nottingham Forest
Everton v Derby County
Ipswich Town v Liverpool
Manchester City v Arsenal
Queens Park Rangers v West Bromwich Albion
Southampton v Bolton Wanderers
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Chelsea
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 23
Leeds United v Manchester United
Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa