EFL Team of the Week: Ivan the great

EFL Goals Galore

It’s been a goal-heavy weekend in the EFL, with 93 scored across all 35 matches.

With that in mind, Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) has picked an attacking Team of the Week.

Goalkeeper: Richard O’Donnell, Bradford

Bradford City manager Gary Bowyer described the 1-0 win at Walsall as a “battling victory”, praising the “attitude and desire” of his players.

They, though, needed six saves from goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell to come away with the three points.

O’Donnell, returning to his old stomping ground having been popular at Walsall, made a superb second-half stop to deny Rory Gaffney’s effort, which was heading into the far corner, in the highlight of a fine afternoon.

Right-back: Rob Hunt, Swindon

Rob Hunt is a versatile full-back.

Despite being right-footed, there was a feeling at Oldham during his time there that, as well as faring well as a right-back, he looked at least as strong at left-back.

That highlights not only Hunt’s adaptability, but also his technical quality, which Swindon have benefited from since the former Brighton youngster made the switch this summer – they have a left-back in Ellis Iandolo who is similarly flexible, which helps the fluency of the team.

Centre-backs: Michael Dawson and Joe Worrall, Nottingham Forest

Back in 2004, a young Michael Dawson was learning the ropes at Nottingham Forest from Des Walker, a legendary centre-back.

Fast-forward 15 years and Dawson, having returned to the City Ground the summer before last, is now showing the ropes to Joe Worrall who, like him, came through the club’s prized academy.

There is something sentimentally romantic about the duo’s centre-back pairing – and they can do the business on the field.

That showed in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Swansea where, without much possession, Forest limited their hosts to few chances and executed a sturdy defensive display to boost their top-six hopes.

Left-back: Junior Brown, Scunthorpe

The technical left-back signed for Scunthorpe in late August – and his career at Glanford Park came to life in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Morecambe.

The former Mansfield man was a key part of Scunny’s attacking play; unusually for a full-back, Brown was comfortable delivering crosses with either feet and that made him a huge threat.

Brown delivered a pin-point back-post cross to Kevin Van Veen, then another centre for Jamie Proctor and, with two strikers on the field simultaneously, there are two clear targets for accomplished crossers of a ball to aim for.

The 30-year-old, who also had a right-footed effort tipped away last time out, could bring the flair to kick Scunthorpe’s season into life.

Central midfielders: Ben Wiles, Rotherham and George Dobson, Sunderland

Ben Wiles is establishing himself as one of the most exciting young midfielders in League One.

He scored a delightful equalizer, in Saturday’s 6-1 victory over Bolton; after some slick combination play with Matthew Olosunde, he flicked the ball past Jack Hobbs, took it away from James Weir before slotting home in a way that drew Gazza comparisons from natives.

Surprisingly, the 20-year-old was not directly involved in any of the following five goals but he remained a key influence on general play with his fearless running and creative eye.

Wiles impressed in a relegated side last season – the same can be said of George Dobson, who swapped Walsall for Wearside in the summer.

The Sunderland midfielder has already displayed a wide range of qualities; the composure to hold onto the ball in tight areas in some games, the energy to support the press in others, meaning that he is always able to adapt to whatever the game needs.

The one-time West Ham academy graduate so far appears to be shaking off stiff midfield competition – and the 21-year-old was outstanding in Saturday’s 3-1 win at Accrington Stanley.

Right-winger: James Henry, Oxford

Over the previous two seasons, it has looked like James Henry’s days as a right-winger could be coming to an end.

Oxford United have deployed him as either a number 10, someone who will drift into wide areas to create space for teammates, as we saw in 2017-18; or, like last season, they have given him a slightly deeper role to utilize his footballing brain.

In Oxford’s 3-0 victory over Tranmere, though, he went to the right side of midfield and supported attacks from behind, with Ben Woodburn and Tariq Fosu-Henry leading the charge.

Henry twice bagged from the spot, to take his Oxford goal tally up to 28 across this season and the last two combined in all competitions – and, despite the enthusiasm of Tariq Fosu-Henry to assume spot-kick duties, maintain his 100% penalty record in the process.

Oxford fans will be hoping a new contract is in the pipeline.

Left-winger: Mikael Ndjoli, Gillingham

Gillingham look at their best when they have the two Mikaels on the pitch at the same time.

With Mandron, they possess a much-needed focal point and that proved crucial in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Wycombe Wanderers – but Ndjoli has shown he can prove very valuable.

The Bournemouth loanee operated on the left of a front-three in Steve Evans’ 4-3-3 setup on Saturday and enjoyed a sizzling afternoon, bagging a brace against the then-leaders.

Goalscoring is not something Ndjoli has proved he can do at senior level, having bagged just two goals in 24 games at Kilmarnock, but he is the type who can play well even when he does not find the net through his tenacious pressing, direct running and general enthusiasm.

Ndjoli could be an asset for the Gills.

Strikers: Jude Bellingham, Birmingham and Ivan Toney, Peterborough

Marcus Maddison deserves an honourable mention for yet another sensational display in Peterborough United’s 6-0 victory over Rochdale, which could well have earnt him a place in our Team of the Week once again.

Instead, we have decided to give the honour to hat-trick hero Ivan Toney, because the athletic striker bullied Dale’s defence all afternoon and was ruthless in his finishing.

He seized opportunistically on Robert Sanchez’s early gaffe to tap home on the goal-line; he completed his hat-trick by seizing on a poor header for a first-time striker, having earlier rounded the goalkeeper to slot home following Maddison’s sublime through ball.

Toney returned the favour to Maddison by pressing high up the pitch throughout and forcing clearances, one of which allowed his talented teammate to lob the goalkeeper in a hugely impressive rout.

Three of League One’s six highest goalscorers all play for Peterborough – the third being Mo Eisa – which is almost as incredible as Jude Bellingham’s performances for Birmingham at just 16.

Bellingham ended August by breaking Trevor Francis’ 49-year record as being Blues’ youngest ever goalscorer by bagging the winner in the 2-1 victory over Stoke.

This week, Bellingham bagged another winner in the 1-0 triumph at the Valley, which ended Charlton’s unbeaten start.

One hopes that Jude will have the maturity to handle the attention that will inevitably come his way, but this is undoubtedly a proud time for him and his family.

Manager: Paul Tisdale, MK Dons

Some managers just fit a club like a glove – Paul Tisdale and MK Dons look the perfect marriage.

Tisdale is a calm, controlled, process-driven manager, which was exactly what MK needed when they appointed him the summer before last.

The former Exeter boss, who spent 12 years in Devon, has a reputation for developing young players which he is furthering in Buckinghamshire, with Sam Nombe and David Kasumu among the early season stars.

The kids did not get too many opportunities last season, when there was so much pressure on the club to get promoted, but this feels like more of a developmental campaign – Tisdale’s side sit 10th after a 3-0 victory at Blackpool.


BET £5 & GET £20 IN FREE BETS + 40 FREE SPINS!!!! 😍😍😍
NEW CUSTOMERS ONLY. FIRST SINGLE & E/W BET ONLY. ODDS OF 1/1 OR GREATER. 2 X £10 BET TOKENS. 40 FREE SPINS AT £0.10 PER SPIN. FREE BET STAKES NOT INCLUDED IN RETURNS. FREE BETS EXCLUDE VIRTUALS. FREE BETS ARE NON WITHDRAWABLE. NO FREE BET EXPIRY. GAME AND ELIGIBILITY RESTRICTIONS. 7 DAY FREE SPIN EXPIRY. FREE SPINS WILL AUTOPLAY ON FIRST ELIGIBLE GAME LOADED. FURTHER T&CS APPLY 18+. BEGAMBLEAWARE.ORG.
Claim Bonus
✅ Deposit £10 & get your first £40 in losing bets refunded in cash ✅
New customers only. Deposit £10 using Debit Card or Trustly. Up to your first £40 of losses will be refunded as CASH within 24 hours of qualifying bet having been settled. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🎯 BET £10 AND GET UP TO £30 IN FREE BETS! 🎯
New users only. Place qual bets of £10 (min odds 1/2, 2+ legs) in 1st 7 days to unlock. Awarded as 3 x £10 free bet. Min odds 1/1 3+ legs, + 7 day expiry. Winnings in cash. Full T&Cs Apply).
Claim Bonus
🔥 BET £10 & GET £15 IN FREE BETS 🔥
18+, Welcome Bonus: New Players only, 1st Deposit, Min Deposit,: £10, max £15 free bet valid for 14 days, bets must be placed at odds of 1/1 or greater and be settled within 14 days of placement. begambleaware.org.
Claim Bonus
🤩 Bet £10 & get £20 in FREE BETS 🤩
New customers only, min deposit and bet £10 (£20 if E/W bet) from Debit card only. Paypal not accepted. Min odds evens (1/5 per multi selection). 2x £10 Free Bets valid for 7 days, stake not returned, no cash out. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🏇🏼 BET £10 ON ANY RACE TODAY & GET £40 IN FREE BETS! 🏇🏼
Sign-up via Mobile using promo code N40 and place a bet of £10/€10 or more and we will give you 4x £10/€10 free bets. By entering the Promo code in the box above you agree to the full terms and conditions of this promotion as displayed below. See full terms below.
Claim Bonus

🏆 £20 Risk Free First Bet - Money Back in CASH 🏆
New customers only, limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Paddy Power account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your first bet on any Sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £/€20. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🤩 £1M FANTASY PREMIER LEAGUE TOURNAMENT! 🤩
£200k first place prize! T&Cs Apply. 18+. BeGambleAware.org
Claim Bonus
⚡️Get up to £100 in Bet Credits⚡️
Open account offer. Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at bet365. Min deposit £5. Bet Credits available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
♦️ Bet £15 & Get £15 FREE BET + 2 x £5.50 tickets to our Poker Tournaments! ♦️
18+ | New UK and Ireland customers only | Min £/€15 deposit get max 2 x £5.50 tickets to FootyAccums Poker League | Bet min £/€15 on sports and get £/€15 free sports bet, minimum odds must be 2.0 | Tickets credited automatically after eligible first deposit | Tickets expire in 30 days | Free bet valid for 7 days, stake not returned | T&C’s apply | BeGambleAware.org
Claim Bonus
BET £10 & GET A £10 FREE BET! 💪
New UK customers only. £10 Min Deposit. 100% matched free bet on your first deposit of £10. 1 x wagering at odds of 1.75+ to unlock Free Bets. Debit Card deposits only. This offer is valid for 7 days from your new account being registered. Full Terms apply. 18+. BeGambleAware.org. Bet The Responsible Way.
Claim Bonus
🌟 Bet £5 & get £30 in bonuses! 🌟
18+ New customers only. Opt in, bet £5 at odds 2.00+ within 7 days of registering, no cashout. Get 2x £10 Free Bets, set events at odds 2.00+. Plus £10 Game Show Bonus, selected games, wager 40x to withdraw max £250. 7 day bonus expiry. Card payments only. T&Cs apply. begambleaware.org | Please gamble responsibly
Claim Bonus
🏆 £20 Risk Free First Bet - Money Back in CASH 🏆
New customers only, limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Betfair account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your first bet on any Sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £/€20. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
💎 BET £10 & GET £40 IN FREE BETS 💎
18+. Play Safe. When you sign-up via Mobile using promo code N40 and place a bet of £10/€10 or more we will give you 4x £10/€10 free bets credited after settlement of first qualifying bet, free bets will expire 30 days after the qualifying bet is placed, payment method/player/country restrictions apply.
Claim Bonus