With 34 goals flying into the back of the net, four penalty shoot-out dramas and a host of memorable performances, the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy couldn’t be more pleased with the first round action, declaring: “It’s good to be back!”
There were a number of ‘firsts’ to report from the opening round of games, with Sheffield United making their debut appearance in the competition at Burton Albion, while Crawley Town made their trophy bow away at Southend United.
The Blades progressed courtesy of Erik Tonne and David McCallister’s late goals, while Crawley were less fortunate, going down to a Liam Dickinson penalty.
Some things never change elsewhere though.
Following last season’s amazing journey to the final – featuring three penalty shoot-outs – Brentford were at it again, dumping out MK Dons from the spot in an enthralling game.
And it was that man Richard Lee who grabbed the headlines once more, keeping out a Darren Potter penalty before Stephen Gleeson blasted over the bar.
Lee’s success was well deserved after cruelly missing last season’s final through injury, having done so much to get the Bees there in the first place.
A Gary Alexander brace and a debut goal by Adam Thompson kept the Bees in the tie, with Charlie Macdonald, Luke Chadwick scoring for the Dons before Jonathan Douglas’s own goal took the tie to penalties.
Speaking of penalties, Tranmere Rovers enjoyed another first round spot kick success, this time over Port Vale.
Rovers looked to be heading out of the competition when Robert Taylor netted for Vale in the second half, but another
Taylor by the name of Ash levelled matters with only minutes remaining.
Ash then composed himself to score the decisive spot kick to send the men from the Wirral through to round two.
Bradford City fans can also look forward to the second round draw after beating Sheffield Wednesday on penalties, with Oscar Jansson the hero for the home team, saving two spot kicks in front of the Sky cameras.
The shock of the round came in Essex, where League Two side Barnet beat League One rivals Colchester United 3-1.
The Bees had twice taken the lead in the first half through Ricky Holmes and Izale McLeod with Pat Baldwin scoring the U’s goal.
McLeod was then sent off before the hour mark for dissent but substitute Steve Kabba added to the Bees’ advantage and secured victory.
Scunthorpe United enjoyed a winning return to the competition they so nearly won in 2009, beating Hartlepool United 2-0 at Glanford Park.
Meanwhile, Huddersfield Town sneaked into round two with a 2-1 victory over Northampton Town at Sixfields, Lee Novak scoring the all important winner late on.
With Crewe Alexandra prevailing on penalties against Bury, the northern section ties were completed at the Banks’s Stadium where Walsall edged out Shrewsbury Town in an enthralling encounter.
Ryan Jarvis and Richard Taundry made early claims for the goal of the round with two cracking strikes, before the Shrews replied through an Andy Butler own goal.
David Grof preserved the Saddlers’ lead with a couple of phenomenal saves in a game that had everything, including a second half Jarvis penalty miss.
In the southern section, AFC Bournemouth rattled up four goals at home to Hereford United, with goals from Shaun McDonald, Marc Pugh and Jayden Stockley (2), while Exeter City dumped out Plymouth Argyle for the second season in succession, this time on penalties.
Cheltenham Town fans will be hoping for sustained success in the trophy for the first time in a season or two, after watching their side beat Torquay United 2-1.
Torquay fell behind after 14 minutes to a goal by Jimmy Spencer, and the lead was doubled for the home side after 42 minutes when Jeff Goulding hit the target.
Lloyd Macklin’s reply on the hour mark set-up a tense finale, but Cheltenham prevailed and can now look forward to the second round draw live on Soccer AM on Saturday from 10am.