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Sky Bet EFL: Team of New Year

3 January 2017

2016 went out with a bang just a few short days ago, and the EFL is up and running in 2017.

The New Year period is a busy one with teams facing two matches in a matter of days, so we’ve selected a Team of New Year, pulling together 11 players and a manager who excelled across the two matchdays.

And here it is…

Goalkeeper: Jak Alnwick (Port Vale)

Alnwick continued his impressive form this season with clean sheets to end 2016 and begin 2017.

After keeping out Chesterfield in a 1-0 win, the goalkeeper excelled away at Oldham Athletic to earn the Valiants a hard-earned point in a goalless draw.

Defender: Amari’i Bell (Fleetwood Town)

Fleetwood climbed into Sky Bet League One’s top six with back-to-back wins over the New Year period.

Bell helped the Cod Army to two clean sheets, and his cross provided the match-winning goal against Shrewsbury Town in a second successive 1-0 victory.

Defender: Chey Dunkley (Oxford United)

Oxford are another side to record consecutive clean sheets, keeping Walsall at bay before battling past Gillingham.

Dunkley was key at both ends, showing determined defending in both games and scoring the winner at the Priestfield.

Defender: Christian Burgess (Portsmouth)

Portsmouth continued their chase of Sky Bet League Two’s top three with four points from their two New Year games.

Two clean sheets helped, with Burgess particularly impressing against Luton Town, a game in which he scored the decisive goal.

Defender: Kieron Freeman (Sheffield United)

Sheffield United moved to the top of Sky Bet League One on New Year’s Eve, when Freeman fired home a late winner against Northampton Town.

Just two days later, he was at it again, scoring as the Blades came from behind to beat Bury and extend their lead at the summit.

81' GOOOAAALLL!!! Two in two games for Freeman. 3-1 Blades

— Sheffield United (@SUFC_tweets) January 2, 2017

Midfielder: Brennan Dickenson (Colchester United)

Dickenson took his season tally to seven with a goal in each of Colchester’s New Year triumphs.

The winger opened the scoring in the 4-2 success against Stevenage, and capped off a 2-0 win over Cheltenham Town with a late strike.

His late goal v Cheltenham has drawn @bendickenson7 level with @Ports100 at the top of the #ColU scorers chart. Chris is now on 7 assists!

— Colchester United FC (@ColU_Official) January 3, 2017

Midfielder: Oliver Rathbone (Rochdale)

Rochdale recorded a 10th consecutive home win to end 2016, with Rathbone producing a Man of the Match performance in the 2-1 win against Shrewsbury Town.

Three days later, the midfielder impressed once more, playing his part in the second goal as Walsall fell victim to the in-form Dale.

Midfielder: Pawel Wszolek (Queens Park Rangers)

Following six straight defeats, QPR returned to winning ways with successive 2-1 victories over New Year.

Idrissa Sylla got the R’s up and running in both, but it was down to Wszolek to get them over the line, netting late winners against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Ipswich Town.

Another @IdrissaSylla40 opener ✅
Another Pawel Wszolek winner ✅

Any #QPR fans feel a sense of déjà vu today? 🤔

— QPR FC (@QPRFC) January 2, 2017

Forward: Nelson Oliveira (Norwich City)

One of three hat-trick heroes to take his place in our selection, Oliveira hit the perfect treble against Derby County.

The Portuguese front man opened the scoring with his left, and glanced home a second before firing home the third with a right-footed strike from outside the box.

Forward: Josh Magennis (Charlton Athletic)

Magennis pipped Oliveira to the EFL Star of the Day on Monday, also finding the net three times in a convincing home success.

It was Bristol Rovers in the Northern Ireland international’s firing line, with Charlton running out 4-1 winners at The Valley.

Forward: Ollie Watkins (Exeter City)

Watkins turned 21 on the 30th December, and celebrated in style with a hat-trick the very next day, putting Newport County to the sword.

The forward also played his part on the Monday, when Exeter hit four again, this time against Leyton Orient.

Manager: Gareth Ainsworth (Wycombe Wanderers)

Wycombe climbed to fifth in Sky Bet League Two, after Ainsworth led his charges to wins over Cheltenham Town and Newport County.

The manager made the most of his squad, keeping his players fresh and seeing substitute Paris Cowan-Hall net as they turned things around against the Exiles.

The Chairboys’ boss also reached a managerial landmark, taking charge of his 200th and 201st league games over the New Year period.

Sounds pretty impressive when you put it like that...

— Wycombe Wanderers (@wwfcofficial) January 2, 2017

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