EFL Team of the Week: deadly Doyle

There were six EFL games called off due to the weather this weekend, but there was no shortage of talent or quality on display.

Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) shares his Team of the Week.

Goalkeeper: Jack Bonham

The Gills goalkeeper was in inspired form as Steve Evans’ side secured a 1-0 win at Accrington Stanley.

Bonham did brilliantly to tip over Colby Bishop’s first-half header, then made a series of heroic stops in the second half to ensure that, after an indifferent team performance, Gillingham took home three points.

Right-back: Ryan Jackson

Jackson is a former teammate of Newport County manager Michael Flynn, having played with him in South Wales.

After the first half-hour on Saturday, it looked like Flynn would get the better of his ex-colleague but Jackson’s deflected effort, which deceived Tom King, spun the game in Colchester’s favour in a 3-1 win; Jackson is an athletic right-back with a mean long throw.

Centre-backs: Shaun Hutchinson and Anthony Stewart

Millwall delivered a very strong performance in Gary Rowett’s first home game in charge and Shaun Hutchinson was at the heart of that.

With Alex Pearce forming a strong partnership with Jake Cooper at the tail-end of the previous campaign, it looked like Hutchinson might have to settle for a role on the fringes.

His display on Saturday, though, showed that he is more than capable of performing well at this level – and potentially keeping Pearce out of the starting line-up.

Left-back: Josh Ruffels

There are not too many right-footed left-backs below the Championship.

Josh Ruffels, Supporters’ Player of the Year at Oxford United last season, is showing it can work.

Ruffels netted in a 3-0 win over Rochdale for the Yellows who, having been hamstrung in previous regimes by poor home form, have won 18 in 35 at the Kassam Stadium under Karl Robinson, scoring 57 goals.

Central midfielders: Alan McCormack and Josh Laurent

Two weeks ago, Northampton Town lost 3-0 at lowly Scunthorpe in a defensively chaotic display.

Few would have thought, on their trip home from Glanford Park, that they would go on to record three successive wins to nil, a run that Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Cambridge completes.

The common denominator? Alan McCormack’s availability.

Rarely does a vocal leader and combative midfield enforcer at this level use the ball quite as well as McCormack does for Northampton.

Shrewsbury Town, meanwhile, have also been racking up the clean sheets this season and Laurent’s work off the ball was key to a 1-0 victory over Sunderland.

Right-winger: Jed Wallace

Wallace’s best season for Millwall came in 2017-18, when his game was simple and he acted as a direct, right-winger who would hit the byline at any opportunity.

In the last 18 months of Neil Harris’ reign as manager, Wallace was given the freedom to come inside and create.

While he had some good games with that remit, he looked improved when Rowett gave him his old role back for the win over Stoke.

Attacking midfielder: Nicky Law

Matt Taylor has utilized a 3-4-1-2 formation at Exeter this season and one of the reasons for that is the freedom he can give Nicky Law in the number 10 role.

Law possesses the unique ability to drift into different areas of the pitch, pick up pockets of space and thread through balls, which he did to maximum effect in Saturday’s 4-0 Devon Derby demolition of Plymouth Argyle, scoring a brace.

Left-winger: Kamil Grosicki

Grosicki is such an asset to Hull.

Grant McCann always likes to keep his wide forwards high up the pitch which means, even when Hull are under pressure, they can still carry a threat with international quality in advanced areas.

The 70-capped Pole brings outstanding end product to Hull’s play, as we saw with his two assists for Jarrod Bowen in a 2-0 victory over Derby.

Striker: Eoin Doyle

Bradford City loaned Doyle out to Swindon Town in August, because they could not fit him into a first XI that, at the time, included the likes of James Vaughan and Clayton Donaldson.

One wonders whether the Bantams will at some point consider recalling their striker who, after a hat-trick in the 4-0 win at Crawley, has now scored 13 league goals for Swindon.

The second top scorer in League Two? Danny Rose, with seven.

Manager: Gareth Ainsworth

Jim Bentley’s exit as Morecambe manager means that Gareth Ainsworth, who took over at Wycombe Wanderers in 2012, is now the EFL’s longest-serving manager.

“Wild Thing” has worked miracles with the Chairboys who, having only stayed in the Football League on the final day in 2013-14, are now second in League One thanks to a 1-0 victory at Rotherham.

The Chairboys are already on 30 points, so they are already well on their way to reaching the 50-point mark, which they should do nice and early this season.


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