EFL: New starts and a wet Christmas among five things you may have missed

Tony Pulis and Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson
Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis (left) watched his new charges from the stands with Boro chairman Steve Gibson

Boxing Day football rarely disappoints when it comes to excitement and this year was no different.

Runaway Championship leaders Wolves were held to a surprise draw at Millwall while off the field Middlesbrough appointed Tony Pulis as their new boss three days after sacking Garry Monk.

BBC Sport takes a look at five things you may have missed, including an abandonment in Devon and Scunthorpe's profitable trip to the seaside.

Out with the old...

Sheffield Wednesday's players celebrate their second goal against Nottingham Forest
Jordan Rhodes (second right) celebrates after his penalty made it 2-0 to Sheffield Wednesday

Saturday's 2-1 win for Middlesbrough at Sheffield Wednesday proved to be the end of the road for the managers in both dugouts.

Hours later Boro announced that Garry Monk had been sacked after six months at the club and the following day the Owls parted company with Carlos Carvalhal by mutual consent.

The Teessiders moved quickly to appoint Pulis as Monk's successor on Tuesday and the former Stoke, Crystal Palace and West Brom boss was in the stands at the Riverside for their 2-0 win over lowly Bolton.

Meanwhile, Wednesday went to Nottingham Forest with first-team coach Lee Bullen in interim charge and duly registered an emphatic 3-0 victory.

The former Owls defender told BBC Radio Sheffield: "It could be a fresh start but ultimately it is in the players' hands.

"I don't know how many games I'm going to be here for so I thought 'If I'm going to fail then at least do it having a go'."

He added: "It's a dream (to be in charge). Everyone knows when you've been at this club it is hard to get it out of your system.

"I know the situation I am in. The chairman has asked me to do it for one or two games and then more than likely a new man will come in.

"All I can do is try and get results but ultimately it would be nice to stay under the new regime and if that is not the case then hopefully I can stay and be part of the academy. We know the job when we take it on."

Soggy at St James Park

It was a wet rather than white Christmas in Devon.

Sadly for the 4,107 fans who made the trip to St James Park that meant their Boxing Day football was curtailed to just 45 minutes after referee Brett Huxtable was forced to abandon the goalless game at half-time with the rain continuing to fall.

As the photos below show, it was probably not the hardest decision of his career...

Exeter City v Forest Green
The Forest Green players attempt to clear the standing water from the pitch by kicking it. Possibly not the most efficient method it should be said
Exeter City v Forest Green
Referee Brett Huxtable talks to Forest Green boss Mark Cooper (centre) and Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale (right). In a nod to the new Star Wars film Tisdale appears to be dressed as a Jedi
Exeter City v Forest Green
Grecians boss Tisdale said he could not disagree with Huxtable's decision to call the game off while Cooper said "everybody kind of knew what was going to happen"

Pirates meet their match

Bristol Rovers had been on a 28-match run without a draw before their trip to Walsall.

Darrell Clarke's side last ended a game on level terms on 28 February when they drew 1-1 at Bolton.

After back-to-back defeats Clarke was pleased his side had managed to take a share of the points after leaving the Banks's Stadium with a 0-0 draw.

"We're not doing cartwheels in there but in the second half of the season we need to pick up a lot more points away from home so this is a good point for us," he told BBC Radio Bristol.

"It was a game that could have gone either way so a draw was probably a fair reflection of the game."

He added: "I'd forgotten what a draw felt like but we'll take the positives."

The stalemate with the Saddlers means that every EFL club has now drawn a game this season after Nottingham Forest's 30-match wait ended with a 1-1 draw at Preston on Saturday.

Sawyer strikes to end drought

Things were looking pretty bad for Plymouth when they fell to the bottom of League One after a 2-1 defeat at Portsmouth on 25 November.

What a difference a month makes.

Their 1-0 victory at MK Dons on Saturday saw Derek Adams' men move four points clear of the relegation zone thanks to three wins and a draw in their last four league games.

The win will taste even sweeter for matchwinner Gary Sawyer who netted his first goal for Argyle since grabbing the winner at Cardiff City on Boxing Day 2009.

Indeed Sawyer's only other goal in the intervening years came for Leyton Orient in a 2-0 win on 13 April 2013. The opposition? MK Dons.

Iron catch Seasiders cold

Scunthorpe United have not enjoyed meetings with Blackpool.

Prior to Tuesday's trip to Bloomfield Road, the Iron had recorded only one win in their visits to the Tangerines and the Seasiders had won nine of the last 12 games between the two teams.

So Scunthorpe boss Graham Alexander will no doubt have been delighted when Tom Hopper gave his side the lead inside the first two minutes.

Duane Holmes made it 2-0 after just eight minutes before Danny Philliskirk pulled one back for the hosts.

However, the visitors started the second half just as they started the first, with Hakeeb Adelakun driving home before most fans had got back to their seats as the Iron eventually claimed a 3-2 win.

Alexander told BBC Radio Humberside: "I was told during the week that Blackpool were our bogey team but I believe the past belongs in the past.

"I thought the players were magnificent today and the two early goals were superb for us to build on.

"We had to face a physical onslaught late on but we stood up to it."

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