Nottingham Forest manager Martin O’Neill hailed super-sub Daryl Murphy after the veteran striker sparked a comeback against Swansea in Saturday’s Championship clash at the City Ground.
Swansea took the lead nine minutes after Murphy’s introduction but the 36-year-old restored parity within four minutes with a trademark header from a corner before another set-piece provided Forest’s winner.
Victory keeps Forest in the play-off mix and O’Neill was understandably thrilled.
The former Ireland manager said: “It was a very difficult game for us but we're delighted with the win.
“I thought the substitutes had a real impact on the game. Daryl obviously came on and grabbed the equaliser. We showed tremendous character because everything seemed lost.
“It will be difficult to get into the top six, we know that, and we know that we need a big improvement to get there. This is just the start of an eight-game season for us and we've taken a win from the first one so we're delighted.”
Elsewhere in the Championship, Scott Hogan’s relief at finally netting for the first time since last April will have been tempered by the frustration of Sheffield United surrendering the 2-1 advantage he had given them to lose 3-2 at home to Bristol City.
Defeat saw the Blades surrender second place to Leeds after the Elland Road outfit beat Millwall 3-2.
There was a welcome sight at the Madejski Stadium as Paul McShane made his first appearance since last August in Reading’s 2-1 win over Preston.
McShane came on as a second-half sub and helped the Royals to three points that eased their relegation fears.
“The first three balls, things didn’t work very well,” Reading boss Jose Gomes said of McShane’s introduction. “After that he felt the noise from the stands each time that the ball went to his zone. In the end he helped the team.”
Gomes added: “During training he’s a very positive guy. He’s full of energy and gives everything. He helps the young players and he deserved to be a solution in this game and I think he was.”
In League One, a James Collins goal set Luton Town on their way to a 2-1 win at Bristol Rovers, a result that stretched their lead to seven points.
Mark Byrne was also on the mark, his header earning Gillingham a 1-1 draw against Rochdale.
There was just one Irish scorer in League Two, Kevin Dawson scoring as Cheltenham Town won 2-1 at Crewe.