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Team of the Week: Matchday 26

3 January 2018

It’s Team of the Week time — the first of 2018! We’ve selected 11 standout performers from Matchday 26 in the EFL.

Goalkeeper: Jordan Smith (Nottingham Forest)

Forest prevented an in-form Leeds United side from scoring on New Year’s Day, when the two sides played out a goalless draw at Elland Road.

Visiting ‘keeper Smith was tested throughout but, despite the seven attempts Leeds registered on target, the stopper wasn’t beaten.

Defender: Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)

Four goals in 10 crazy minutes saw Fulham come from a goal down to defeat Ipswich Town 4-1 at Craven Cottage.

17-year-old Sessegnon grabbed himself a brace, along with an assist in the victory, as the Cottagers made it three triumphs out of four.

A special mention to Aboubakar Kamara, who also scored twice and can feel aggrieved not to have been included! 

Defender: Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough)

We continue the theme of defenders at the double with Middlesbrough’s Ayala, who netted twice in a 3-2 away victory over Preston North End.

The Spaniard opened the scoring on 13 minutes, before netting what would prove to be the winner, as proceedings moved towards their conclusion.

Defender: Ethan Pinnock (Barnsley)

A second strike in as many games for Pinnock was enough for Barnsley to see off Sunderland 1-0 at the Stadium of Light.

His close-range header at the beginning of the second period gave the Tykes a narrow advantage, which then they protected resolutely.

Midfielder: Robert Snodgrass (Aston Villa)

Villa blew Bristol City away in a 5-0 rout on home turf, with Snodgrass getting on the scoresheet twice.

The Scotsman’s two goals either side of the break took the game away from Lee Johnson’s Robins, who simply couldn’t deal with the hosts.

Midfielder: Matt Bloomfield (Wycombe Wanderers)

A landmark occasion for Bloomfield was marked in style, as he scored on his 400th EFL appearance for the Chairboys.

There was collective glory for Wycombe too, as they got the better of Forest Green Rovers at the New Lawn.

Midfielder: Tom Naylor (Burton Albion)

Naylor’s finish added the final touches to a fantastic afternoon for the Brewers at Sheffield Wednesday.

The Hillsborough crowd watched Nigel Clough’s visitors sweep aside the Owls 3-0, with the 26-year-old delivering a superb all-round display.

Midfielder: Tom Pett (Stevenage)

Darren Sarll saw his team start the New Year in winning fashion, thanks to a 4-1 success over Cheltenham Town.

Pett’s contribution was crucial, as, after Matt Godden had levelled, the midfielder put his team ahead, and then sealed things two minutes from time.

Forward: Kane Hemmings (Mansfield Town)

A brace from Hemmings against Carlisle United helped the Stags rise into the Play-Off places, and also saw them extend their impressive run to just one defeat in 18 games in all competitions.

The finishes were the striker’s sixth and seventh of the campaign, and the win puts Mansfield within one point of the top three.

Forward: Tom Eaves (Gillingham)

It was a historic day for the Gills, who picked up three points for the first time at the Valley, courtesy of a 2-1 win in their clash with Charlton Athletic.

Eaves’ performance stood out and after expertly teeing up Josh Parker to open the scoring, he then poked home himself for what proved to be the winner.

Forward: Robbie Willmott (Newport County)

A goal, an assist and a Man of the Match award — this display from Willmott had it all.

There was nothing ‘run of the mill’ about the forward’s finish either, as he brilliantly scored with a 30-yard strike to dispatch Exeter City.

Manager: Steve Cotterill (Birmingham City)

It’s now back-to-back victories for Cotterill’s Blues, after they saw off Reading 2-0 at the Madejski Stadium.

The win additionally moved Birmingham off the foot of the table, following their home defeating of Leeds United last time out.

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