The EFL season is back! Sky Bet League One will get the first Saturday of 2018/19 under way, and there are new teams and new faces to keep an eye on as we approach the big kick-off. Here's our preview...
League One gets the first Saturday of the new season up and running, with the Sky Sports cameras at the Stadium of Light to witness Sunderland take on Charlton Athletic — the first the time the two have met since the 2005/06 Premier League campaign.
The Black Cats will be looking to stop the rot which has seen them relegated in each of their past two seasons, but there is renewed optimism with the arrival of new boss Jack Ross, who has had the summer to make his mark on the squad.
In the opposite dugout is Lee Bowyer, who turned out for Sunderland’s fierce rivals Newcastle United during his playing days. The caretaker manager galvanised the Addicks last season, and will be hoping that team spirit remains as they look to go a step further than the Play-Offs this time around.
A piece of history
Accrington Stanley are ready for their first game in English football’s third tier, after clinching promotion — and the Sky Bet League Two title — back in April.
John Coleman hasn’t made too many changes to the squad that earned Stanley their shot at League One, showing confidence that his players are more than capable of stepping up another level.
"We've played a lot of these teams when they had their 10 years in @SkyBetLeagueTwo, so we've got nothing to be scared of."— EFL (@EFL) August 1, 2018
Speaking at yesterday's #EFLSeasonLaunch, @ASFCofficial's John Coleman proved he is raring to go ahead of the club's maiden @SkyBetLeagueOne campaign. pic.twitter.com/McGt2iKcv2
Opponents Gillingham had a mixed season last time around, but Steve Lovell’s phenomenal stint as caretaker boss turned around their fortunes, and the 58-year-old is now set to embark on his first full season in EFL management with Saturday’s visit to the Wham Stadium.
Around the grounds
There are home fixtures for two of the other sides promoted with Stanley. Wycombe Wanderers welcome Blackpool to Adams Park for their season opener, while Coventry City — League Two Play-Off winners back in May — host a Scunthorpe United side who have reached the League One post-season in the last two campaigns.
Relegated Barnsley — now under the stewardship of Daniel Stendel — take on Oxford United for the first time since they played out an EFL Trophy classic at Wembley in 2015, while Burton Albion begin life back in the third tier against Rochdale, who ensured survival on the final day of the 2017/18 season.
Luton Town are the only League Two newcomers to hit the road on the opening day, travelling to Portsmouth in one of the most intriguing fixtures on Matchday 1.
Joey Barton’s maiden match as Fleetwood Town boss is in front of the Cod Army faithful against AFC Wimbledon, while Grant McCann takes his new Doncaster Rovers side to Southend United.
Two new managers meet at Montgomery Waters Meadow, where John Askey and Shrewsbury Town will welcome Bradford City, who have Michael Collins in charge for the upcoming campaign.
Saturday 4 August
Accrington Stanley v Gillingham
Barnsley v Oxford United
Burton Albion v Rochdale
Coventry City v Scunthorpe United
Fleetwood Town v AFC Wimbledon
Peterborough United v Bristol Rovers
Portsmouth v Luton Town
Shrewsbury Town v Bradford City
Southend United v Doncaster Rovers
Sunderland v Charlton Athletic
Walsall v Plymouth Argyle
Wycombe Wanderers v Blackpool