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#EFL2018: Football at its finest

As the calendar year comes to a close, take a look back at some of the most memorable moments from the EFL's three divisions and cup competitions

25 December 2018

In 2018, we have seen fascinating fixtures that have thrown up some of the most fascinating results.*

Throughout the calendar year, an incredible 4,121 goals were scored, with teams in Sky Bet Championship managing to notch 1,385, teams in Sky Bet League One scoring a total of 1,360 and Sky Bet League Two sides finding the net on 1,376 occasions.

The entertainment value in the Championship went through the roof in the final week of November 2018, with Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest playing out what would become the joint-highest scoring game of the calendar year. 

Despite 10 goals on the night, the clash eventually finished all square with a 5-5 scoreline – yes, you read that correctly. Forest took a 2-0 lead after six minutes before Villa pulled it back level after just 14 minutes. It was a back-and-forth encounter which had it all, and things were made harder for Aitor Karanka’s side when they were reduced to 10 men. 

The setback would not stop them getting something from the game, however, as Lewis Grabban sent a message to his previous employers by popping up to earn his side a point.  

Coincidentally, the game saw Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham score the most goals by a single player in one game in 2018 (4), and Forest’s Joe Lolley top the assist charts for the year, setting up four of the five goals scored by his side on the day. 

Incredibly, there was another 5-5 in 2018, and it came at Ashton Gate between Bristol City and Hull City. Perhaps even more incredible is the fact that defender Michael Dawson appeared in both fixtures - not a bad story to tell the grandkids!

It was a fantastic year for Grabban, who scored a magnificent 22 goals in the Sky Bet Championship, split between his time at Villa and Forest. 

But he is not the EFL's top scorer in 2018 as that title belongs to Sky Bet League Two’s Exeter City striker Jayden Stockley, who has scored more (26) than both Grabban and Gillingham’s Tom Eaves, who is Sky Bet League One’s top goal-scorer for the year with 22. 

The three top-scoring teams in the EFL were Aston Villa in the Sky Bet Championship (87 goals), Peterborough United in Sky Bet League One (67 goals) and Lincoln City in Sky Bet League Two (72 goals).

At the other end of the field, Morecambe shot-stopper Barry Roche was called into action on 12 occasions during their 1-1 draw with Newport County in January; he still holds the record for the most saves by a goalkeeper in a single match in 2018. 

2018 Competitions

It was a memorable season for Wolverhampton Wanderers, as they won the Sky Bet Championship in May 2018 and sealed promotion to the Premier League. Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City finished runners-up and were promoted with 90 points, two ahead of eventual Play-Off Final winners Fulham, who beat Aston Villa at Wembley in front of over 85,000 fans to secure their fate.  

Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers completed their returns to the Championship as winners and runners-up respectively in Sky Bet League One after a hotly-contested title race, and fourth-placed Rotherham United saw off third-placed Shrewsbury Town 2-1 in the League One Play-Off Final at Wembley. 

Against the odds in Sky Bet League Two, John Coleman’s Accrington Stanley secured the title in May, ahead of Luton Town and Wycombe Wanderers, who finished in the other two promotion places. 

Another shock in League Two came in the Play-Off Final, as Coventry City put three past Exeter City to secure their passage to League One. Exeter will have felt hard done by, as they finished five points ahead of the Sky Blues in the regular season.  

The Checkatrade Trophy was won by Lincoln City for the first time in their history, on their first-ever visit to Wembley Stadium, and during their first season back in League Two, as a goal from Elliott Whitehouse handed Danny Cowley’s side a 1-0 win over League One Shrewsbury Town. 

It was also was a record-breaking year for Manchester City in the Premier League, but it was their performances in the Carabao Cup that would see them pick up their first piece of silverware in the calendar year.  

A 3-0 victory over Arsenal with goals from Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and David Silva saw them lift the trophy for the fifth time in their history, in front of 85,671 fans at Wembley Stadium.

*Figures correct as of 24 December 2018.

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