The Good, The Bad & The Ugly EFL

The EFL was in full swing for another exciting week of action throughout the Championship, League One and League Two, where there were surprises galore and new potential champions emerged.

On top of that, this round of games produced some amazing support, lacklustre defending and crazy keeping in this weeks good, bad and ugly from the EFL weekend.

Good: Mackems make the 12th man count

The life of a football fan is a roller-coaster of ups and downs, from last-gasp wins to agonising defeats. However, for Sunderland fans in recent years, it has been pretty much all downhill after back-to-back relegations.

But this season has seen somewhat of an upturn in form for the Black Cats, with them chasing promotion in EFL League One. And despite the clubs recent decline, the support has always remained.

So it will come as little surprise when looking at the figures for this weekend’s away followings. However, what will come as a surprise is those same figures when seeing that Sunderland’s away trip was to Plymouth Argyle.

The round trip from Wearside to Devon and back comes out as a total of 812 miles, taking up roughly 12 hours of travel. Yet despite this, the former Premier League side filled out their away allocation, with a massive 1305 away fans making the trip to Home Park.

Even for a regular away match, that figure would be impressive, but it speaks volumes of a side’s support when so many are willing to travel so far to follow their team.

And those faithful fans were rewarded with a 5th straight league win, as a second-half brace from Aiden McGeady means the men in red and white moved up into the automatic promotion places, just three points behind leaders Portsmouth.

Whereas Plymouth lost momentum after winning their last two, meaning they remain in the EFL League One relegation zone.

Bad: Three isn’t a safe lead when you’re at the bottom

It is often said in football that 2-0 is a shaky lead, as one goal could completely open the game. Although 3-0, on the other hand, is normally where a game is killed off and the points are secured.

For Oxford United, however, that is not the case, as in Saturday’s EFL game at fellow strugglers Scunthorpe United, 3-0 did not prove to be enough.

The Yellows had begun the game well, taking an early lead through James Henry, and held the one-goal lead until the second half. They then turned up the gears, as two goals in five minutes from Cameron Brannagan and Curtis Nelson put the game beyond doubt.

Or so you would think.

However, the Iron didn’t give up, as a team who had the third best attack outside the play-off sides, they knew they had goals in them. Defender Jordan Clarke reduced the deficit on the hour mark to give them hope.

And within four minutes, George Thomas bagged the home side’s second, before Charlie Goode completed an astounding six-minute comeback. However, Stuart McCall’s side couldn’t bag all three points, but it must have felt like a win, considering their earlier position.

The stalemate means Oxford remain in the EFL League One relegation zone despite now being unbeaten in six. Whilst Scunthorpe ended a run of five straight defeats, but dropped to 19th, just three points above their opponents.

The Ugly: Maxwell causes a keeper crisis

The thought of having to use an outfield player in goal must be a nightmare situation that a manager hopes to never find himself in. However, for Preston boss Alex Neil, that nightmare was all too real.

The Lilywhites travelled to Ipswich Town in a game that featured two EFL Championship sides at the wrong end of the table, with Paul Lambert’s side seeking their first home win of the season.

And that quest looked to be going to plan after Preston keeper Chris Maxwell brought down Jordan Roberts for a penalty, being booked in the process. Freddie Sears duly scored to give the Tractor Boys a half-time lead.

Sam Gallagher then levelled the score with less than 20 minutes remaining, before Maxwell’s next intervention. The away side were reduced to ten men, with the Preston ‘keeper being dismissed for a second booking, leaving them with a dilemma.

Alex Neil had already made all three substitutions, so goalscorer Gallagher was forced to be their hero at the other end as well. And so he was, as Preston held out for the final 15 minutes to secure a point and deny Lambert a debut victory.

The result means Preston drop to 21st, outside the relegation zone on goal difference alone. Whilst Ipswich remain bottom, with just 1 win in 16 EFL games.