The first round of the 2022/23 Carabao Cup is underway after the August 9 slate saw 27 ties played out with winners coming from the Championship, League One and League Two.
With matches that were level after 90 minutes going straight to a penalty shoot-out, plenty of drama unfolded as lower league teams look to put together a magical run in the League Cup this season.
With some of the bigger sides in England set to join the fun in round two and the seven top Premier League sides from last season entering in round three — including 2021/22 competition winners Liverpool — the foundations have already been laid for another intriguing Carabao Cup campaign.
Norwich City vs Birmingham: Canaries advance on penalties
Following their relegation from the Premier League last season and their winless start to the 2022/23 league season, the pressure had been building on Norwich City manager Dean Smith.
A round one Carabao Cup win on penalties over Birmingham won't have exactly eased those worries.
The hosts had been leading 2-0 at half time thanks to strikes from Danel Sinani and Jacob Sorensen, but they once again let their advantage slip too easy, conceding twice in the second half as visiting Birmingham forced penalties.
Norwich won the shootout 4-2 in the end, though the pressure remains on Smith for now.
Huddersfield vs Preston: Terriers' struggles continue
Two losses from two in the league plus a long list of intriguing off-field decisions and key player departures this summer have somewhat turned the air toxic around the John Smith's Stadium.
The visit of fellow Championship side Preston in round one of the Carabao Cup only compounded the negativity further as the Lancashire outfit ran out comfortable 4-1 winners in West Yorkshire.
A first half brace from Ali McCann did the damage with Troy Parrott and Brad Potts also netting for the visitors.
Bradford fight back to upset Hull
When Hull's Turkish midfielder Ozan Tufan saw his 25-yard strike spectacularly saved onto the woodwork by Bradford goalkeeper Harry Lewis, he was probably ruing a fantastic diving effort that had kept the game goalless.
Instead, the ball hit the bar before redirecting off Lewis to find its way into the back of the net as the Championship side led early at Valley Parade. Given their return of four points from two impressive league performances plus their two-division advantage over the hosts, many would have thought that lead was unlikely to be overturned.
Bradford's Andy Cook had other ideas though. The striker first nodded home a cross into the top corner before a smart corner routine saw him drive another effort low into the Hull net as the Bantams fought back to lead 2-1 at half time.
A frantic second half proved goalless, sending Bradford — who reached the competition final as a fourth-tier side in 2012/13 — into the second round for just the second time in seven seasons.
Exeter embarrass fellow League One side Cheltenham
Cheltenham Town reached round three of the League Cup last season for the first team in club history, so when they were given a home tie against fellow League One Exeter City this season, they'll have been confident of advancing.
Instead, in a result that no one could have predicted before the round began, visiting Exeter ran out 7-0 victors as they dominated their divisional rivals.
The Grecians had raced to a 5-0 half-time lead before Harry Kite and Josh Coley truly rubbed salt into the Cheltenham wounds in the second half.
Newport, Portsmouth and Stevenage all cause upsets
Like Bradford, fellow League Two side Newport County also shocked Championship opposition in round one as the Welsh side ran out 3-2 winners at Kenilworth Road against Luton Town. James Rowberry's side twice came from behind to win their first match of the season.
It was a less impressive night for fellow Welsh outfit Cardiff City who were routinely defeated 3-0 at home by Portsmouth. The League One side netted three times in 15 second-half minutes to knock their Championship hosts out of the competition.
An 89th minute Danny Rose winner also saw League Two's Stevenage claim a sizeable scalp in round one as they bested Championship side Reading 2-1 at the Madejski Stadium. The visitors took the lead early in the match before being pegged back after half-time, but Rose stepped up late as Stevenage reached the second round of the competition for the second straight season.
Carabao Cup 1st Round results
|August 2||Cambridge United 1-0 Millwall|
|August 9||Shrewsbury Town 3-2 Carlisle United|
|August 9||Blackpool 0-0 Barrow (3-4 on pens)|
|August 9||Accrington Stanley 2-2 Tranmere Rovers (11-12 on pens)|
|August 9||AFC Wimbledon 0-2 Gillingham|
|August 9||Northampton Town 1-2 Wycombe Wanderers|
|August 9||Oxford United 0-0 Swansea City (5-3 on pens)|
|August 9||Rochdale 2-0 Burton Albion|
|August 9||Cheltenham Town 0-7 Exeter City|
|August 9||Charlton Athletic 1-1 QPR (5-3 on pens)|
|August 9||Morecambe 0-0 Stoke City (5-3 on pens)|
|August 9||Mansfield Town 1-2 Derby County|
|August 9||Bradford City 2-1 Hull City|
|August 9||Crawley Town 1-0 Bristol Rovers|
|August 9||Huddersfield Town 1-4 Preston North End|
|August 9||Ipswich Town 0-1 Colchester United|
|August 9||Grimsby Town 4-0 Crewe Alexandra|
|August 9||Bolton Wanderers 5-1 Salford City|
|August 9||Norwich City 2-2 Birmingham City (4-2 on pens)|
|August 9||Harrogate Town 0-1 Stockport County|
|August 9||Doncaster Rovers 0-3 Lincoln City|
|August 9||Luton Town 2-3 Newport County|
|August 9||MK Dons 1-0 Sutton United|
|August 9||Forest Green 2-0 Leyton Orient|
|August 9||Fleetwood 1-0 Wigan Athletic|
|August 9||Cardiff City 0-3 Portsmouth|
|August 9||Walsall 2-0 Swindon Town|
|August 9||Reading 1-2 Stevenage|