The Good, The Bad & The Ugly EFL

This weekend saw sides from EFL Leagues One and Two take a break from league action once more, as many of them were taking part in the FA Cup second round.

Therefore, there was a chance for some non-league shocks, as well as a full set of EFL Championship fixtures. We had big blunders, giant-killings and sinking strugglers in this weeks good, bad and ugly from the EFL weekend.

Good: FA Cup at its finest

The countries biggest cup competition, the FA Cup, is an opportunity for Premier League sides to gain some silverware. Whereas for smaller clubs, it is seen as a chance to face big clubs and earn some much needed extra revenue.

The third round is where the big clubs come in, so this weekend was the final hurdle for teams hoping for a big payday. And the hurdle that National League South side Woking faced this weekend was a trip to EFL League Two side Swindon Town.

A two league gap and a home advantage meant that many would have expected an easy win for the Robins. However, what we did get was the biggest shock of the round, as the sixth tier side surprisingly came out on top.

A game of few chances meant that any goal would be crucial in determining the outcome. And that chance was taken early in the second half, as Woking striker Jake Hyde got on the end of Josh Casey’s cross to head in the only goal of the game.

The full-time whistle was met with joyous scenes, as the promotion-chasing non-league side made it to the third round of the FA Cup for the first time in 22 years.

Meanwhile, for Swindon, it was the fourth time since 2010 that they had been knocked out by non-league opponents. As they can now focus on maintaining their league form and their aim for a play-off place.

The amazing efforts of the minnows mean that they have earned a tie at home to Premier League Watford. A game that will no doubt live long in the memory for Woking fans.

Bad: Tractor boys stuck in a rut

Many teams have struggled across the EFL so far this season, but none more so than Championship side Ipswich Town.

As the second tier’s basement side have gained the fewest wins of anyone in the Football League so far. Picking up just one win out of a possible 19 prior to this weekend.

The club have also seen a change of manager already, with summer appointment Paul Hurst being replaced by Paul Lambert. With the former Norwich boss gaining just two points from four games before the trip to face play-off chasers, Nottingham Forest.

And the club’s fortunes only worsened at the City Ground, as Forest ran out as comfortable winners.

The visitors began poorly and were soon behind as in-form striker Lewis Grabban slotted in after Bartosz Bialkowski was unable to hold onto Tendayi Darikwa’s initial shot.

Grabban then scored his 15th goal in 15 games, meeting a Darikwa cross to tap in and kill the game before half-time. As there were no further goals in the second half despite Aitor Karanka’s side’s dominance.

Forest, who are now unbeaten in their last seven league games, move up into fifth. Whilst Ipswich are now without a win in eight and remain bottom, seven points from safety.

Ugly: day to forget for Championship keepers

The life of a goalkeeper can be a difficult one. A keeper can make several important saves, but all the plaudits go to the striker that got the winner. A striker can make several mistakes with no consequences. Whereas if a keeper makes one, then the ball is in the back of the net.

And that was the theme for keepers in the EFL Championship this weekend.

It began in the early kick-off, in the promotion clash at Bramall Lane between Sheffield United and Leeds United. The game was into the final ten minutes and poised at 0-0 before Blades keeper Dean Henderson had to chase a poor backpass to prevent a corner.

The young shot-stopper then passed the ball straight to Leeds’ Jack Clarke, who squared for Pablo Hernandez to fire into an empty net and claim all three points for the away side.

The worst mistake of the lot came at St Andrew’s, in the match between Birmingham City and Preston North End. With the score at 0-0 early in the second half, Blues midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld overhit a pass towards goal, which Declan Rudd could easily collect.

The Preston keeper, however, allowed the ball to roll between his legs and over the line, to the disbelief of his team. And Birmingham took advantage of that good fortune and went on to get the victory.

This nightmare day was rounded off in the late kick-off, as Middlesbrough goalie Darren Randolph attempt to save a central shot from Aston Villa‘s Glenn Whelan. But with his side already 2-0 down, the ball struck his left arm and flew into the bottom corner of his net.

This day of blunders means many EFL Championship managers will no doubt be putting extra effort into goalkeeper drills in training this week.


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