Welcome back to EFL Round-Up by Last Word on Football. This column delves deep into the world of the Football League, looking at the key games from each of the three divisions as well as providing a brief overview of every result from the Championship, League One and League Two.
This week, we look at the flying start that Dean Smith made in his new job at Aston Villa, Wycombe’s wonderful comeback against Scunthorpe United and Harry Kewell’s Notts County, who continue to struggle in League Two.
EFL Round-Up – Gameweek 14
Dean Smith’s Flying Start
There may have only been one goal in it, but Aston Villa managed to give their new boss, Dean Smith, a flying start to life at Villa Park as they beat Swansea City.
On-loan striker Tammy Abraham headed in the only goal of the game after just eight minutes. He rose highest in the box to meet Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross and notched a goal against the club where he spent last season on loan.
Abraham had a number of chances to add to his tally but was denied twice by Swansea’s Kristoffer Nordfeldt and also saw another header go over the bar from just three yards out.
The win means Villa, last season’s beaten play-off finalists, are outside the top half on goal difference, behind Smith’s former club, Brentford, while Swansea drop to 15th.
Wycombe’s Wonderful Comeback
Ten-man Wycombe completed a wonderful comeback, coming from two goals down to win 3-2 courtesy of Craig Mackail-Smith’s stoppage-time winner.
The Iron had taken a quickfire lead and were two to the good within seven minutes. Ryan Colclough netted after just 18 seconds and this was added to by Stephen Humphreys, who slotted past Ryan Allsop.
Dominic Gape halved the deficit on 26 minutes with an excellent finish and the hosts levelled early in the second half through Fred Onyedinma’s curling strike.
It looked as though Wycombe would have to settle for a point when goalkeeper Allsop was dismissed for bringing down Ike Ugbo. Paris Cowan-Hall made way for substitute goalkeeper Yves Ma-Kalambay to enter the field.
Despite having the lesser numbers, Wycombe snatched the three points deep into injury time. A mistake at the back allowed Mackail-Smith to race through one-on-one with the keeper and, using all the experience of his 18-years in the game, he slotted in to send Adams Park into raptures.
Notts County’s Struggles Continue
An awful start to the season under Kevin Nolan saw Notts County in the relegation zone of League Two after leading the division for so long last season. He was replaced by Crawley boss Harry Kewell but the former Liverpool and Leeds player has done little to reverse the club’s fortunes.
County sit 21st in the table, just three points above the relegation zone, and suffered a 4-0 defeat to Bury at the weekend.
Nicky Maynard continued his excellent form, scoring his fourth in five games after just 11 minutes and the lead was doubled only seven minutes later when Dom Telford tapped in.
Jay O’Shea added a third from the penalty spot midway through the second half after Matt Tootle had brought down Telford and some gloss was added to the scoreline late on when Nicky Adams curled in a beauty off the post.
After the success of last season, County’s initial target for this campaign would surely have been promotion. They may now, though, have to change this to survival if Kewell cannot arrest the slide they are currently on.
In the day’s early game, Tony Mowbray’s Blackburn continued their positive return to the Championship with a 2-1 win over Leeds United through goals from Danny Graham and Darragh Lenihan.
Norwich were victorious by the same score thanks to Tim Klose’s brace away at Nottingham Forest, as were Derby County in their win over Sheffield United.
A late goal at Griffin Park saw Thomas Frank lose in his first game as Brentford manager as they went down to Bristol City and Preston were also at it late on as a 93rd-minute equaliser saw them rescue a point away at Hull.
QPR’s resurgence under Steve McClaren went on with a 2-0 win away at Ipswich Town, Reading were 3-1 victors over Millwall and Che Adams’ second-half strike saw Birmingham win away at struggling Stoke.
Christian Doidge’s goal six minutes from time secured a point for Bolton at Rotherham and, finally, Wigan extended their incredible home form with a hard-fought 1-0 win over West Brom, who finished with ten men after Jake Livermore’s dismissal.
A brace from centre-back Kyle McFadzean helped secure a 3-2 away victory for Burton Albion against bottom side Plymouth. The Pilgrims are now four points adrift at the bottom of League One.
Five games in the division finished with a score of 2-0. Firstly, Curtis Tilt and Marc Bola’s goals for Blackpool saw them beat AFC Wimbledon, Ian Henderson scored a late brace for Rochdale against Blackpool and Charlton surprised in-form Barnsley. As well as these results, Luton dispatched Wallsall and Sunderland eased to victory over Shrewsbury.
Doncaster and Gillingham played out an entertaining 3-3 draw at the Keepmoat Stadium, Accrington Stanley marched on with a 1-0 win away at Peterborough, Portsmouth kept their lead at the top of the table with a single goal against Fleetwood and, finally, Bristol Rovers and Oxford United could not be separated in a 0-0 draw.
MK Dons extended their unbeaten run to four games with a 1-0 win over local rivals Northampton Town. Kieran Agard scored the only goal that stood of the game, despite the Dons having the ball in the net a further two times – both were ruled out by referee Brett Huxtable.
Crawley surprised high-flying Newport County with a 4-1 win while the other in-form teams, Lincoln and Exeter, both draw – Lincoln were held 1-1 at home by Cambridge and Exeter were involved in a stalemate against Grimsby.
Forest Green and Cheltenham shared the spoils in a Gloucestershire derby that finished 1-1, and there were also draws for Swindon and Yeovil, who drew 0-0 against Mansfield and Tranmere respectively.
Macclesfield came from behind to beat Carlisle and finally secure their first win back in the EFL, Colchester needed just one goal to take the three points away at Morecambe and that was all Port Vale needed as well as they won their fixture away at Oldham.
Finally, Crewe were 1-0 winners away at Stevenage thanks to Jordan Bowery’s excellent strike midway through the second half.