The 2011/12 Blue Square Premier kicked off this weekend, with the first televised game of the season as Forest Green Rovers took on Stockport County. The league newcomers left it late, as they had to come from behind as debutant Nick Chadwick’s late equaliser cancelled out Reece Styche’s first half opener in front of 1848 at The New Lawn.
With Luton Town’s game at promoted AFC Telford match called off due to police advice, York City and Fleetwood Town both had a chance to steal a march early on. Both teams took their chance gaining good away wins; York City came from behind to beat 10 man Ebbsfleet (Debutant Jason Walker scoring twice in the last seven minutes after Tom Phipp’s red card). Meanwhile at Blundell Park, Fleetwood Town wrapped up a 2-0 win against Grimsby with goals from Andy Mangan (another debutant) and substitute George Donnelly.
It wasn’t a good debut for the other new teams in the league. Blue Square North champions Alfreton Town losing 3-1 away to Hayes & Yeading (a result that at this early stage left Hayes & Yeading top and Alfreton bottom). Their Blue Square South counterparts didn’t fair much better, Braintree Town losing to single Liam Hatch goal away against Darlington.
The upset of the day came at Aggborough where Gateshead scored two early goals before Kidderminster Harriers bounced back almost immediately to leave the score at 2-2 after only 25 minutes. Kris Gate’s late winner ensured a deserved 3-2 win for the Tynesiders. Kettering Town also came out on top of another end-to-end thriller at their new home Nene Park. Jean-Paul Marna’s two goals (including an injury time penalty) was the pick of the performances as they defeated Newport County 3-2.
The leagues four other opening day fixtures ended in draws. Southport earning a point in the 2-2 draw against Lincoln City at Haig Avenue after being reprieved last year due to Rushden & Diamonds expulsion from the League last year. The three other games between Barrow / Tamworth, Mansfield Town / Bath City and Wrexham / Cambridge United all finished 1-1. The first league table of the new season showed Hayes & Yeading top on goal difference with Kettering’s Jean-Paul Marna and York’s Jason Walker leading the goalscorers chart with 2 goals.