Best of the Best EFL

The Championship was back this week to add some more spice to the weekend’s EFL action. Although, don’t for one second think it overshadowed League One and League Two, as there was some cracking football on offer in those divisions as well.

From thrilling comebacks to thumping home wins, here are the top five games of a very tasty weekend of football in the EFL.

Wycombe Wanderers 3-2 Scunthorpe United

Ever heard the cliche ‘they scored too early’ in football before? Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if Stuart McCall used that in his post-match interview after watching his Scunthorpe side throw away a two-goal lead to lose against Wycombe at Adams Park.

It all started so well for the Iron, who took the lead after just 18 seconds when Ryan Colclough cut in from the left and unleashed a fierce shot past a stranded Ryan Allsopp.

Things got even better when their advantage was doubled with a Stephen Humphrys strike just six minutes later.

That’s as good as it got for Stuart McCall’s team, though, as things began to crumble soon after. Dominic Gape pulled one back in the 26th-minute before Fred Onyedinma levelled the scores just eight minutes after the restart with a brilliant, curling effort into the top corner.

Scunthorpe looked like the favourites to nick all three points in the closing stages when Wycombe were reduced to 10 men in the 81st-minute. Allsopp was the man sent for an early bath after a reckless foul on Chelsea-loanee, Ike Ugbo.

This was the Chairboys’ day, though.

Craig Mackail-Smith, one of a number of seasoned pros among Wycombe’s ranks, used all his experience and know-how to punish a Rory McArdle error by robbing the ball off him and incisively finishing past Jak Alnwick to cause delirium in the terrace behind the goal.

Reading 3-1 Millwall

In the week that the Football Manager 2019 beta was released, you could say that Neil Harris’ Millwall were royally ‘FM’d’ against Paul Clement’s Reading at the Madejski Stadium.

For those unfamiliar with the game, being ‘FM’d’ means that – despite having a lot of the ball and creating a lot of chances – Millwall ended up suffering a frustrating defeat at the hands of a team that didn’t have many chances but were just a bit more clinical on the day.

Yakou Meite put Reading into the lead as he glanced in Tyler Blackett’s inch-perfect cross.
Millwall didn’t have to wait long for an equaliser, though. Murray Wallace levelled for the Lions within six minutes of Reading’s opener after the centre-back scrambled a Shane Ferguson corner into the net.

However, Harris’ team shot themselves in the foot on the stroke of half-time when Mahlon Romeo clattered into Blackett in the box and gave a penalty away. Sam Baldock gratefully accepted the responsibility of taking it and made no mistake by firing the ball into the top corner from 12 yards.

Millwall pushed and pushed for an equaliser in the second half but it just wouldn’t come and Reading made sure that it would be them taking all the points in the 86th-minute.

Meite, usually known for his pace and trickery with the ball at his feet, headed in his second of the game from a Leandro Bacuna corner to seal the win for the Royals.

It lifts Reading two points clear of the drop-zone but plunges Millwall, who haven’t been able to recapture last season’s form, right into the thick of it.

Doncaster Rovers 3-3 Gillingham

After a 3-2 win at Rochdale last week, Grant McCann will probably have wanted a more stress-free afternoon against Gillingham. He didn’t get it, though…

Doncaster got off to the worst possible start when Barry Fuller struck a speculative shot from range that managed to deceive Marko Marosi and fly into the bottom corner in the seventh minute.

Tom Eaves, who’s been having a great season for Gillingham, doubled their advantage just under 20 minutes later to put the Gills firmly in the ascendancy.

You can’t write Doncaster off this season, though, and they fought back with goals from John Marquis and Mallik Wilks.

Steve Lovell’s side must have thought they’d won it when Max Ehmer put them back in front with just a couple of minutes of normal time remaining.

However, Paul Taylor rescued a point for Donny in stoppage-time with a deflected long-range effort.

Bury 4-0 Notts County

It was a battle of the young and up-and-coming managers as Ryan Lowe’s Bury took on Harry Kewell’s Notts County at Gigg Lane; the home side running out emphatic victors on this occasion.

It was obvious from the first whistle that Bury were superior in every department on the day and that Kewell was going to endure a long afternoon from the touchline.

Nicky Maynard has proved to be an inspired piece of business for Bury since signing in late-September. He put them in front on 11 minutes with his fourth goal in his first five league games in a Bury shirt.

Eight minutes later, Bury doubled their advantage and put themselves firmly in the ascendancy. This time a cross from Danny Mayor was not cleared by County’s defence, and the ball found itself in the path of Dominic Telford, who made no mistake from three yards.

Kewell couldn’t galvanise a reaction in the half-time break. A Jay O’Shea penalty and a late strike from veteran midfielder Nicky Adams just rubbed more salt in the wound.

It’s an almighty bump back down to earth for Notts County, who had been enjoying an upturn in form of late. Bury, on the other hand, are climbing up the table at a rate of knots and back in the coveted play-off positions.

Nottingham Forest 1-2 Norwich City

Norwich’s climb up the Championship table continued after coming from a goal down to win 2-1 at the City Ground against a strong Nottingham Forest side.

Lewis Grabban scored after five minutes to put the home side in front. A dinked pass from Joao Carvalho was smashed into the net by Grabban, who continued his upturn in form after a difficult start to life in Nottingham.

The Canaries turned it on after the break, though, and two goals from an unlikely source was enough to turn the game on its head and shoot the side in yellow into the top-six of the Championship.

Defender Timm Klose got the end of a delicious delivery from Moritz Leitner to get Norwich back on level terms on the hour-mark.

And he was at it again with just six minutes left on the clock, when he prodded the ball past Costel Pantilimon in scrappy fashion but to the travelling Norwich support’s delight.

The win puts Norwich up to sixth but sends Forest tumbling down to ninth.