It was another relentless day of action across the EFL on Matchday 16. Yet again, Saturday’s football didn’t disappoint. Across all three divisions, the day had drama everywhere – goals, controversy, comebacks and upsets...
In the Sky Bet Championship, Billy Sharp was the hat trick hero for Sheffield United as his three goals helped send the Blades to the top of the table, as they defeated Wigan 4-2 at Bramall Lane.
It was the first time in 30 years that they had beaten the Latics on their own patch, and even though a Kal Naismith equaliser had threatened an upset, two quickfire goals either side of half-time restored the Blades advantage before Sharp completed his hat-trick just after the hour mark.
Leeds United and Nottingham Forest shared the spoils in an entertaining clash at Elland Road, as Kemar Roofe equalised for the home side inside the final ten minutes. Jack Robinson had earlier bundled in his first ever goal for the visitors, although Leeds’ late equaliser wasn’t enough to send Marco Bielsa’s side back to the top.
In the other day’s game on Sky Sports Football, Derby County took a first half lead early on thanks to George Friend’s own goal against Middlesbrough. It looked like it would be enough to send the Rams top of the pile, but Boro salvaged a point late on thanks to Jayden Bogle, who turned it in to his own net.
Hot on the heels of the leaders are Norwich City, whose forward Emiliano Buendia scored the only goal to send the Canaries up to fourth place. Despite Jordan Rhodes’ missed first half first penalty they did enough to see off Brentford 1-0. The home side have now won eight of their last ten games.
Garry Monk’s Birmingham City have the longest unbeaten run in England. But they had to come from behind at St Andrews against Sheffield Wednesday. The Blues are now unbeaten in 11 games, and thanks to goals from Lukas Jutkiewicz and Che Adams, their hot streak of form continues as they move up to 9th in the table and just two points outside the play off places.
Elsewhere, Stoke City enjoyed another win away from home as they beat Bristol City 1-0, whilst Ipswich’s poor run of form continued at The Den as they were defeated by Millwall. Meanwhile, a late Blackburn equaliser denied giving West Brom all three points at the Hawthorns and Swansea secured back to back victories with a win over Reading.
In Sky Bet League One, the Lancashire derby did not disappoint, as Fleetwood Town enjoyed their first ever win over local rivals Blackpool, whose long unbeaten league run came to end as they lost 4-2 to Joey Barton’s side.
The home side were 2-0 up early on in a blockbuster half that had the Cod Army two to the good inside the first 11 minutes. Blackpool responded to trail 2-1 at half time before Paddy Madden put Fleetwood 3-1 with what proved to be the eventual winner. Fleetwood have now gone above their rivals and in to the top half.
Sunderland are another of the form teams in Sky Bet League One and they marked ‘Black Cat day’ with a thumping 3-0 win over Southend at the Stadium of Light. Captain George Honeyman opened the scoring early in the first half and it was plain sailing for the Black Cats thereafter.
It means the Wearsiders have now scored 29 league goals this term – scoring in every league game. They sit just two points off table toppers Portsmouth with a game in hand. Meanwhile, the leaders were once again denied all three points as they couldn’t keep out a late Accrington Stanley equaliser at the Crown Ground.
Elsewhere, Peterborough put in another convincing performance as they won back to back games with a 2-1 away win at Burton Albion and Barnsley now sit 4th after they got back to winning ways with a 1-0 win over Bristol Rovers.
Luton’s supreme form continued as they have now lost just once in their last nine games. Their latest 2-0 win against AFC Wimbledon came courtesy of goals from Pelly Ruddock and Elliott Lee, meaning they move up to 5th and level on points with Barnsley.
For the first time in 20 years, Coventry City won their fifth straight league game as they saw off a late Doncaster fightback at the Ricoh Arena to win 2-1 and move up to within a point of the play off places.
At the bottom there were big wins for a number of the league’s struggling sides. Gillingham secured a 3-0 victory against Bradford City, whilst Plymouth Argyle defeated fellow strugglers Scunthorpe 4-1 away from home. Oxford United also got a big three points as they won 3-0 against Shrewsbury - a win that moves them out the bottom three.
In Sky Bet League 2, none of the top three teams came away with a win.
Colchester United beat top of the table Lincoln City 1-0 at the Colchester Community Stadium thanks to a 28th minute Frankie Kent strike. It was a second successive game in which the leaders have failed to win.
Milton Keynes Dons couldn’t find a second half goal to win away at Mansfield. After falling behind early on, they responded immediately but the Stags' stubborn defence held firm as the spoils were shared at Field Mill.
Third placed Exeter City were beaten at home by Forest Green Rovers, bringing an end to the third best unbeaten run in the country. Despite scoring late on, they couldn’t find an equaliser and succumbed to their first defeat in 16 games at home. Matt Taylor’s side are now without a win in three games.
Tranmere were in magnificent form at Prenton Park as they defeated Crawley Town 5-1, scoring three goals in just six minutes in a frantic start to the second half that blew the visitors away. James Norwood’s brace were his first two goals in six games and helped move the home side in to the play off places.
The drama in Sky Bet League Two didn’t end there either, as ten man Northampton Town beat Oldham Athletic 2-1. Keith Curle’s side showed all the self-belief and grit needed to hang on for maximum points and the Cobblers’ victory means they have won three of the last six games and their win brought to an end to Oldham’s 10 match unbeaten record away from home.
Elsewhere, there was a first win in seven games for Swindon Town as they won on the road, beating Notts County 2-1 at Meadow Lane. Swindon moved up to 13th while the home side are just two points adrift of safety at the bottom.
Crewe Alexandra had a brilliant goal from Corey Whelan to thank for confirming all three points for the Railway Men, who are now unbeaten in their last four league games and move up to 17th in the table – beating Grimsby Town 2-0.