• Nathan Smith


Heading into another week of EFL football, we have picked out four of the most exciting games from across the divisions…

The Championship – Nottingham Forest vs Derby County (October 23rd – KO 7:45pm)

Chris Hughton’s reign got off to a decent start, after a late Joe Lolley goal secured a win against Blackburn Rovers, Forest stumbled to a 1-1 draw at home to Rotherham during the week. Remaining with the 4-2-3-1 formation, Hughton has already started to address the scoring problems that have curtailed the start of their season, but they will want to make a statement, especially against local rivals Derby County.

It has been an awful start for Derby County as the pressure mounts on Phillip Cocu to turn this season around. With only one win out of six in the league, Derby’s lack of firepower will certainly not be helped by Wayne Rooney’s absence as he is having to self-isolate. This might lead to a start for new signing Colin Kazim-Richards who will want to make impression on his new fans. Coming off the back of two 1-0 defeats, Derby need to arrest this slump, or they could find themselves in a relegation battle for the rest of the season.

While this East Midlands derby may not be the most entertaining fixture, this game could have big consequences for both sides if they lose. Hughton may not have his job on the line but a loss would turn a decent start into a poor one, while a loss for Cocu could see him sacked as Derby look to rebuild their season.

League One – Sunderland vs Portsmouth (October 24th – KO 3pm)

Make no secret about it, Sunderland are a boring side to watch but my god, they are efficient. Having yet to concede since the opening day, Phil Parkinson’s side are built on an incredibly strong back three which provides them the platform to get in front and see out games. With Charlie Wyke starting to finally find some form in a Sunderland shirt, the goals are coming for the Black Cats and while the football is not beautiful, you cannot argue with three points every week.

Portsmouth have had a rocky start to this season, after going winless in their first three games, Pompey have recovered well, winning three out of their last four. An impressive win against Gillingham will certainly build confidence in this Portsmouth team and a win against Sunderland will certainly help their playoff push. There is quality in the team with the likes of John Marquis, Marcus Harness and Ronan Curtis but it is just a case of ironing out those mistakes and finding some consistent form.

These two sides are no strangers to each other, with this game being the eighth meeting between the two in the last two years. Sunderland will be looking to stay unbeaten and keep their title ambitions going, while a win for Portsmouth will do a lot for their play-off push.

League Two – Tranmere Rovers vs Southend United (October 24th – KO 3pm)

Tranmere have not had it easy since their relegation into League Two, as they are sat in 17th with only one win to their name. Things looked on the up for Rovers after a 2-0 win against Scunthorpe United and a superb comeback to draw 2-2 against Salford but since then they have been consigned to two 1-0 defeats to Newport and Leyton Orient. Tranmere seem to either score two or more, or score none and they will need to find a consistent scoring touch if they want to rise up the league table.

If Tranmere’s has been bad, then Southend’s has been awful. With the constant financial trouble being faced by the Shrimpers, it is no surprise that they are finding it tough to compete, but with no wins in seven games, Southend fans may be starting to get concerned. After two good draws against Crawley Town and Exeter City, Mark Molesley’s side were sent back to reality with a 2-0 and 3-0 defeat by Salford City and Cheltenham Town respectively.

Tranmere will want to get their season back on track and a defeat on of the poorer sides in the league will do Mike Jackson no favours, but a loss for Southend could not only lead to perhaps Molesley’s departure, but also heaps the pressure on the Shrimpers to get that first win.

WILDCARD – Hull City vs Peterborough United (October 24th – KO 3pm)

League leaders Hull have recovered from their 4-1 hammering at the hands of Fleetwood, by beating Rochdale and Wimbledon to nil. The Fleetwood game is interestingly the only game where Hull have conceded which tells us that Grant McCann has built a defence much stronger than the one at his disposal last season. George Honeyman has been in fine form for the Tigers this season and will look to add to his six-goal contributions on Saturday.

After a rocky start, Peterborough have shown that they will be up there this season. Having not conceded in their last three, Darren Ferguson’s side have been strong at the back with last season’s Golden Glove’s winner Christy Pym continuing his fine form. With the attacking quality of Jonson Clarke-Harris, Siriki Dembele and Joe Ward, Posh will be sure to find the net and keep pushing for a play-off place.

This game is sure to be exciting, two strong teams with attacking and defensive quality going at it, this could be a good indicator of who will be able to go on and earn an automatic promotion spot.