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EFL Weekly roundup: Wrexham and Swindon entertain, and a fan on the sideline in Portsmouth

All the biggest action from 61 matches in the Championship, League One, League Two and the EFL Cup

European football returned across the rest of the continent this week with Serie A and the Bundesliga getting underway. But, as always, some of the most exciting moments took place here in England’s lower divisions.

10 goal thriller in Wrexham

Normally, we’d start with a Championship story, but this was too good not to go top. Fans at the racecourse ground have been treated to two absolute crackers in recent weeks. On opening day, Wrexham fell to a free scoring MK Dons side. This week, the Welsh side beat Walsall 4-2 on Tuesday, and overcame a two goal deficit in added time to draw with Swindon 5-5 after being 1-4 down at half time.

Swindon’s front three were the definition of clinical, scoring 5 goals from a total of 8 shots throughout the game. Braces from Daniel Kemp and Jake Young, as well as a goal from veteran Charlie Austin had Swindon fans in wonderland. Questions have been raised of Ben Foster’s performance after the keeper made just one save and poor reactions prevented him from making more.

Despite the disappointing performance at the back, Wrexham’s attacking department put in a shift to atone for this. Midfielders Elliot Lee and James Jones also found themselves on the scoresheet twice, each scoring one of the vital goals in added time. Jake Bickerstaff continues to impress with his second goal of the season, after scoring on Tuesday night. 

Wrexham celebrate their 96th minute equaliser (Credit: Wrexham AFC)

Wrexham clearly have goals in the locker but need to seriously improve at the other end of the pitch if this doctrine of scoring more goals than the opponent is to be effective. Meanwhile, Swindon will be frustrated to have dropped another two points to conceding late, in a similar manner to their draw with Crewe last weekend.

Fratton Park sees fan become pro referee for the day

Fans at Portsmouth vs Cheltenham were treated to a footballing rarity when a Pompey fan took to the sideline as assistant referee, after two picked up injuries during the match. Julian Browning, a season ticket holder in the South Stand at Fratton Park and local referee, was called into action after an announcement from the stadium’s public address was made.

Portsmouth season ticket holder Julian Browning taking to the field to save the game (Credit: Portsmouth FC)

After Cheltenham Town gave the green light for the new linesman, Browning ran the line for 35 minutes. Fortunately, Julian was not faced with making any contentious decisions as the match ended in a 0-0 stalemate, over 20 minutes later than the rest of League One’s matches. Robin’s boss Wade Elliot joked after the match that “He was probably the best official we’ve had this year.”

Wigan steamroll Wanderers in Lancashire derby

While Plymouth and Southampton played out an entertaining match on the South Coast for Sky Sports cameras on Saturday lunchtime, a derby between two heated rivals was taking place in the North West and may have offered an even greater experience. After scoring nine and conceding just once in the league so far, Bolton would’ve been confident going into the derby day. But what hope the Wanderers fans had, was quickly disassembled by a clinical wigan side. 

Bolton haven’t beaten Wigan since January 2015, with the aggregate score since being 16-5 in 7 meeting (Credit: BWFC)

The Latics had a three goal advantage at half time and went on to score another to give Bolton fans reminders of the last time the two faced off in Horwich, where Wigan once again ran out victors by four goals. Despite nearly double the possession, nearly double the shots and over 200 more passes in the 90 minutes, Bolton were swept aside by a Wigan side that have already overcome their points deduction escaped the relegation zone. Without such a deduction, Wigan would currently find themselves sat atop the League One table, somewhere they’ve found quite comfortable after winning League One in 15/16, 17/18 and 21/22.

Bolton will have to wait until January to claim bragging rights, but given the Trotters have only won once in their last ten league meetings, that wait may grow even longer.

Pointless Sheffield Wednesday and Colchester

Championship side Sheffield Wednesday and League Two Colchester United are the last two teams in the EFL yet to pick up any points, after both sides were defeated for a third straight match on Saturday.

Wednesday lost by a goal against Preston North End in a pretty uninspiring affair with little positives for the Owls or PNE other than the latter picking up three points. After Ipswich picked up a third win of the season against QPR, the points gulf between the two sides is now larger than at any point during their 22-23 promotion campaigns. Difficult trips to South Wales and West Yorkshire to face Cardiff and Leeds awaits the Owls before an international break gives Xisco the chance to prepare his side for their former promotion rivals Ipswich.

Meanwhile, in East Anglia, Colchester missed out at the death thanks to a goal in the 100th minute to keep MK Dons in the automatic spots. Colchester are likely to reach four matches in a row with a visit to Priestfield next week to play top of the table Gillingham. 

Gillingham reach five wins in five

Speaking of Gillingham, their impressive start to the season continued this week with another two 1-0 wins away to Sutton and Crawley. This is added to their other two 1-0 wins in the league against Stockport and Accrington, and their impressive 3-1 victory against Southampton in the League Cup. 

Broadfield Stadium, where Gillingham won against Crawley on Saturday (Credit: Crawley Town)

By the midpoint of last season, Gillingham looked destined for the National League. Just two wins in the league from their opening 23 matches and a depressing seven goals in that same period. Then, it all changed for the Kent side. 29 goals were scored in the second half of the season, with only 21 conceded and Gillingham were essentially safe from relegation just two months later. The strongest part of Gillingham’s revival was undoubtedly their home form. 28 points from a possible 36 between January and May saw Priestfield become a fortress. 

Now, Gillingham have taken that sort of form on the road, with three wins and three clean sheets so far this season. As mentioned earlier, struggling Colchester visit Priestfield on Saturday, followed by a trip to Premier League Luton in the EFL Cup, where Gills will want to cause an even bigger upset than the first round. 

Next weeks review will look at the 36 matches played across the three divisions, as the league tables finally begin to take shape for the season ahead.