EFL Weekly – Gameweek Roundup 23 September

The EFL returned to its full complement of fixtures following a Championship-focused midweek in style with goals and coupon-busters aplenty across all three divisions.

Things are hotting up in the second tier with a mere five points separating the top half, the lead changed hands once again in League One, and one of the early season surprise packages became the only unbeaten team left in League Two.

This is EFL Weekly.

Championship

DERBRE
Mason Mount celebrates scoring Derby’s third against Brentford

There was a huge shock at the top of the SkyBet Championship on Saturday as Garry Monk got one over his former side Leeds at Elland Road, giving struggling Birmingham their first win – and Leeds’ first defeat – in the league this season.

Former Sheffield United man Che Adams was the hero, as the striker struck twice to have the Blues 2-0 up at the break.

Marcelo Bielsa’s outfit uncharacteristically struggled to produce anything of note, but managed to find a late goal through Ezgjan Alioski.

It wasn’t enough for a point however, as the Blues held out for a huge three points, meaning they are now five league games unbeaten; astonishingly, the longest unbeaten run currently intact.

Leeds meanwhile remain top – but only just – thanks to Middlesbrough failing to capitalise on the Whites’ slip-up.

Despite having more than three times the shots on goal their opposition did, Boro failed to find a breakthrough against a resolute Swansea team and could only draw a blank at the Riverside, seeing Tony Pulis’ men go level on points at the top of the table.

As a result, the big winners of the weekend were West Bromwich Albion, who beat Millwall 2-0 at the Hawthorns to claim their fifth home win in a row and move into third – a point off the summit.

Darren Moore’s team had suffered an indifferent start to life back in the Championship, but they moved into the top six for the first time with victory over Bristol City on Tuesday night and continued their upward surge against a Millwall side who drop into the relegation zone.

One of the clubs leapfrogged by the Baggies were Brentford, who started the day third but finished it seventh after letting a lead slip to lose 3-1 at Derby, who themselves go above the Bees and return to the top six.

Also sitting pretty in the playoffs after claiming yet another home win are Wigan – who beat Bristol City in the Friday night fixture courtesy of Nick Powell’s second half header – and they’re joined by Sheffield United who complete the top quarter of the table.

The Blades appeared to be cruising to victory against an out-of-sorts Preston side, but Daniel Johnson and Callum Robinson’s two goals in as many minutes hauled Alex Neil’s team level.

It wasn’t to be for long however, as David McGoldrick struck three minutes from time to ensure the points would stay in Sheffield after all.

The result means Preston now sit bottom of the table after a third straight loss, and moving ahead of them are Ipswich, despite Paul Hurst’s Tractor Boys now being the sole winless team in the division after Birmingham’s success – the Portman Road outfit could only manage a goalless draw at home to the ten-men of Bolton.

Reading moved out of the bottom three after a first home win since April saw them defeat former manager Nigel Adkins’ Hull 3-0 – despite having John O’Shea sent off late on. The Tigers move below the Royals and sit a point clear of the drop zone.

One of the games of the day came at the bet365 Stadium as Stoke were inches away from completing a comeback against Blackburn having been three goals down.  Saido Berahino and Tom Ince scored two goals in sixty seconds to bring the Potters back to 3-2 with ten minutes to play, but the former then saw a penalty crash against the crossbar in stoppage time which would have stolen an unlikely point.

Elsewhere, John McGinn’s early contender for goal of the season wasn’t enough for Aston Villa as they lost 2-1 at home to Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest made it back-to-back victories at the City Ground by beating Rotherham through a late Lewis Grabban penalty, and Norwich made it two away wins in a week with a 1-0 win at QPR, having previously not recorded three points on the road since January.

League One

CHAPLY
Karlan Ahearne-Grant scored his second late on to see off Plymouth at the Valley

Portsmouth’s brief stay at the top of League One came to an end as Kenny Jackett’s side let a late lead slip at home to Wycombe.

Pompey trailed at the break to Bryn Morris’ curling effort, but fought back through second half goals from Gareth Evans and Brett Pitman.

The striker’s header came in the 86th minute and appeared to have given the hosts a hard-fought win, but Wycombe struck back moments later as Christian Burgess clumsily conceded a penalty which was converted by Joe Jacobson.

A point for Wanderers keeps them just clear of the relegation zone, but it was a result that was equally as important for Peterborough, who regained top spot in the third tier by coming from behind to claim an impressive win at Gillingham.

The Gills scored two quick-fire second half goals to lead 2-1 at the Priestfield Stadium, but Posh responded with a double of their own, before Callum Cooke landed the fatal blow minutes from time.

As a result of what was a fourth straight loss, Gillingham fall into the drop zone – but their poor run of form isn’t the worst in the division.

One spot below Steve Lovell’s side are Bradford, who went down 2-1 in a Yorkshire derby against Doncaster to mark their fifth consecutive defeat, extending the Bantams’ disastrous record to just five wins from their last 29 league matches.

Rovers on the other hand move one place up into fourth, and two teams joining them in the top six are Charlton and Walsall, who both enjoyed wins against relegation-threatened sides Plymouth and Oxford respectively.

Third place Sunderland meanwhile bounced back from their first defeat at this level since 1988 in style, as a brace apiece from youth academy graduates Josh Maja and Lynden Gooch helped the Black Cats to an impressive 4-1 home win over Rochdale.

In pursuit of the playoffs, Accrington made it eight games unbeaten by securing their first home win of the season – a 2-1 victory over AFC Wimbledon – whilst Blackpool could only draw 0-0 with Luton, and ten-man Fleetwood lost 1-0 at Southend.

Meanwhile, Bristol Rovers moved out of the relegation zone with a 3-1 home win over Coventry, Shrewsbury avoided dropping into the bottom four despite a 1-0 loss at Scunthorpe, and Barnsley – who had gone into the weekend just outside the top two – fell out of the playoffs after their match with Burton at Oakwell was postponed due to a medical emergency shortly before the scheduled kick-off.

League Two

LINMKD
Jason Shackell’s 95th minute winner for Lincoln sent Sincil Bank into raptures

Lincoln opened up a six-point gap over the automatic promotion chasing pack after Jason Shackell’s dramatic stoppage-time header inflicted a first defeat of the season on MK Dons.

The defender’s winner completed a second half turnaround after the Dons had hit the front with just over a quarter of the game remaining.

Danny Cowley’s side have now won seven of their opening nine fixtures, and also maintain their three point lead over nearest challengers, Exeter City.

The Grecians made it three wins in a row as they too came from behind at home, beating Cheltenham 3-1 thanks to two goals in the last ten minutes from Jayden Stockley and summer signing Jonathan Forte.

Occupying the third and final automatic promotion spot are Newport, who bounced back from their horrific showing against Yeovil last week to win at Tranmere thanks to Fraser Franks’ fifth minute goal.

It’s now three straight victories on the road for the Exiles who, unlike last weekend, showed great defensive resilience to keep a clean sheet against a team that included the league’s top scorer, James Norwood.

In the chasing pack, Colchester remain fourth but fail to keep pace with the top three after blowing a 3-1 lead at Oldham with just five minutes remaining, a result that sees the home side cling on to their own playoff berth.

Despite having Jerry Yates sent off late on, Carlisle won 1-0 at Bury to go level on points with Colchester and move up six places, and completing the top seven are Forest Green, who are now the only unbeaten side left in League Two after Reuben Reid’s deflected effort gave them their first home win of the season against Crawley.

At the bottom, Notts County’s wait for a league win in 2018-19 continues after a goalless stalemate at Northampton – who stay 20th – but the Magpies are off the bottom as ten-man Macclesfield lost 2-1 at Morecambe in a relegation six-pointer.

Andy Fleming struck the winner just five minutes after Danny Whittaker had scored an equaliser for the battling Silkmen, but ultimately the three points put an end to Morecambe’s four-game losing streak and lifts them above Grimsby, who themselves have lost five on the spin after a 1-0 defeat at Stevenage.

And finally, rounding off this weekend’s EFL roundup – Cambridge struck late to steal a point from visitors Mansfield, Swindon comprehensively won 3-0 at last weekend’s big-hitters Yeovil, and Port Vale picked up a first away win in 17 attempts at the best place possible – the home of their bitter rivals, Crewe.

The victory is Vale’s second in a row, makes them three unbeaten, and means they have now lost only one of their last six trips along the A500.

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