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EFL Team of the Week: Maynard’s sweet weekend

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There has been a reduced fixture list in the EFL this weekend with just 19 matches taking place but, with 12 of those games involving three or more goals, there has been no lack of drama or shortage of talking points.

After the latest round of EFL fixtures, Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) names his Team of the Week.

Goalkeeper: Jonny Maxted, Exeter City

Maxted has been loaned out this season by Accrington Stanley, but Exeter City are certainly making use of his talents.

The goalkeeper was solid when called upon in the top of the table clash over Forest Green, in which the Grecians won 1-0 with Maxted keeping a clean sheet, with first-choice stopper Lewis Ward absent through injury.

Right-back: Perry Ng, Crewe Alexandra

Ng has been arguably the best right-back in League Two in 2019.

His versatility, movement, intelligence, dribbling ability and quality have all made the 23-year-old a key asset for Crewe.

Although Ng’s goal in the 4-2 victory at Carlisle might have been intended as a cross, his performance was more than deserving of a goal.

Centre-backs: Manny Monthe, Tranmere Rovers and Alfie Kilgour, Bristol Rovers

Monthe was among the best centre-backs in League Two last season, his athleticism and aerial prowess being a key factor behind Tranmere Rovers’ fine form after January.

The ex-Forest Green man appears to be making the step up to League One and was a vital influence behind Rovers’ 1-0 smash-and-grab at Coventry.

Also 1-0 winners were Bristol Rovers, although unlike Tranmere, they had the chances to win their game – at home to MK Dons – by a greater margin.

The Gas limited their visitors to very few chances and their defence was faultless throughout, with signs of Alfie Kilgour stepping up to League One very well, following a successful loan spell in the National League last term with Maidenhead United.

Left-back: Joe Widdowson, Leyton Orient

Widdowson was part of Leyton Orient’s title-winning success last season and, from a technical perspective, he deserves to be playing in the EFL.

The former Morecambe left-back excels at playing intelligent forward passes and, although predominantly left-footed, he showed his right-footed proficiency with a delightful strike in Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Walsall.

Defensive midfielder: Neal Bishop, Mansfield

Bishop was a key ball-winner last season for Mansfield, who narrowly missed out on promotion under David Flitcroft’s guidance.

The Stags will need to find a long-term replacement for the 38-year-old but, as he showed in the 6-1 thumping of Oldham, he remains a fierce presence in the heart of their midfield, completing three tackles in that match.

Central midfielders: Scott Wagstaff, AFC Wimbledon and Alex Gorrin, Oxford

AFC Wimbledon pride themselves on their ability to develop youth – it is an exciting time for the club from that perspective, with Pauls Kalambayi and Osew the latest impressive products on a fine conveyor belt.

These young players though need an experienced head to guide them, so Scott Wagstaff is a key influence.

A title-winner at this level with Charlton in 2012-13, the 29-year-old has brought leadership qualities – essential in a youthful side – a dependable work ethic and reasonable technique.

Alex Gorrin, meanwhile, has attempted 51 tackles this season – no League One midfielder has tried more – and the Oxford United ball-winner’s dirty work gave Cameron Brannagan the platform to shine in a 3-0 thumping of Doncaster.

Attacking midfielder: Reece Grego-Cox

When Reece Grego-Cox started getting the odd Premier League cameo at the tail end of QPR’s 2014-15 relegation campaign, he might have hoped for an exciting EFL career.

Instead, the attacking midfielder had to drop down to the National League with Woking to re-build his career, before moving to Crawley in 2018.

Grego-Cox only started 15 league games last season, but he has already started 11 this term, which shows that, after a positive pre-season, he has become a key part of Gabriele Cioffi’s plans; the 22-year-old scored and impressed in the 2-1 win over Colchester.

Striker: Nicky Maynard, Mansfield and Marcus Forss, AFC Wimbledon

Driven, perhaps, by some foolish words from an Oldham Athletic director on Thursday night, Maynard bagged a first half hat-trick against the Latics, helping Mansfield Town to a 6-1 victory.

While at Bury last season, Maynard was arguably the best striker in the division and, when through on goal for a fourth, he had the selflessness to tee up Oladapo Afolayan for a tap-in.

Get Maynard firing and maybe the Stags can climb the table.

Marcus Forss, meanwhile, bagged a hat-trick in AFC Wimbledon’s 4-1 victory at Southend, with the nippy forward continuing his fine form since joining on loan from Brentford.

Manager: David Artell, Crewe Alexandra

Crewe have produced some lovely passages of play this season.

They can play the possession game, with sublime passing and movement, but they still have that ability to change the speed and direction of play when space opens up.

See, for example, midfielder Tommy Lowery’s reverse pass that set Daniel Powell through on goal to finish their second in the 4-2 victory at Carlisle.

David Artell has certainly benefited from the time he has been given to perfect those kinds of moves on the training ground and his players are executing them delightfully.

Saturday’s win was Crewe’s fifth away from home this season, when they had won just four games on the road throughout 2018-19.