The View Outside The Premier League: Mackail-Smith double sinks Burnley
Craig Mackail-Smith is an unusual name for a Scotland striker but the Brighton player showed his international pedigree at Turf Moor on Saturday with two quality strikes, one of which would grace a goal of the season compilation.
The striker made the difference in a 3-1 win which didn't flatter the Seagulls. The visitors were always the better side against a very flat Burnley performance. Mackail-Smith provided a quality strike in the first half, from the edge of the box, to send Gus Poyet's team in front at the break.
Albion continued to press without finishing Burnley off and suffered a setback when skipper Gordon Greer deflected a Junior Stanislus cross past Thomas Kuzscack. For about 10 minutes Burnley then stirred into life.
But Brighton's international striker restored the lead with a blinding goal. Think about that Rooney overhead against Manchester City and you have an idea of the quality involved. With the lead restored Brighton reasserted their dominance and Greer added a third from a set piece.
Gus Poyet's influence is easy to see as Brighton consistently pass the ball out from the back. Occasionally they may overplay but the style is good to watch. In this regard, Poyet's acquisition of two experienced and competent full backs is crucial.
Both Wayne Bridge and Santor Bruno (ex-Valencia) pull wide and accept the ball from keeper and centre backs to stretch the pitch - Bruno especially looks a great signing and took part in a lot of Brighton's composed approach play.
On this form Brighton are a good bet for a place in the play-offs while Burnley are looking fragile. The feelgood factor of the first day win over Bolton has faded quickly and Eddie Howe will have lots to work on in during the international break.
Rochdale bagged their first win of the League Two campaign by dispatching Barnet 2-0 at Spotland. The season already looks to be one of struggle for the Bees but Dale fans are adjusting to being back among the lower ranks.
From 1974 to 2010 Rochdale played continuously in the fourth tier until promotion under Keith Hill. Then came a decent 9th placed finish but Hill's move to Barnsley contributed to last season's relegation.
Now Dale look to John Coleman to get them back up. The Merseysider spent years rebuilding Accrington Stanley, taking them back to the Football Lerague and more importantly, keeping them there on tiny gates.
There is more potential in a borough the size of Rochdale, although so many of the youth are attracted to the glamour clubs in Manchester. No-one knows the North-West lower league scene better than Coleman and on the books are some of his ex-Stanley stalwarts like Ian Craney and Peter Cavanagh and long-term Bury servant Brian Barry-Murphy.
MK Dons won on Saturday to take close order behind the early leaders in League One. After last season's strong effort the Dons should be in the promotion shake-up and they have a squad full of famous names.
One way to gain promotion is to develop young, hungry talent but it can be equally beneficial to have older players with a point to prove. The Dons are packed full of players who used to perform at higher levels.
Alan Smith and Jimmy Bullard are big names whose time at the top was bedevilled by injury at the wrong time. If they get anywhere near decent form they can cause damage in the third tier.
Luke Chadwick is 31 now but still has the talent that once set Old Trafford alight. Darren Potter developed in the good habits drummed in by the old Liverpool system, as did full back Jon Otsemobor, while Gary Mackenzie played at a high level with Dundee.
Ironically, Karl Robinson is one of the League's younger managers but he certainly isn't afraid to coach a hard core of experienced professionals and if the Dons do fall short again it won't be for lack of nous.
The only thing to spoil the long trip back to the South Coast for Brighton fans was the news that Crystal Palace had picked up their first win in the division. The Seagulls fans had enjoyed serenading the Burnley supporters with "Down with the Palace, you're going down with the Palace".
The Eagles heeded Dougie Freedman's call to stay united after three defeats and ruined Sheffield Wednesday's good start to the campaign. The Owls came in buoyed by their midweek defeat of Fulham in the Capital One Cup with a weakened team but in typical fashion, with a full squad restored they were downed 2-1 by two Glenn Murray strikes.