EFL: Tony Pulis has a tough start while nine-man MK Dons hang on for a win

Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis gives orders from the touchline
Tony Pulis has begun life as Middlesbrough boss - his ninth club in a managerial career spanning more than 25 years

So the EFL draws the curtain on 2017.

It was a year that saw Huddersfield Town and Brighton climb into the Premier League after decades out of the top flight and 41 new faces move into manager's offices at EFL clubs.

So for the final time this year BBC Sport looks at five things you may have missed from Saturday's EFL action.

Exeter City - the best season ticket in England?

Banners at Exeter City
Seventeen home league wins and a trip to Wembley in 2017 - Exeter City's first home game of 2018 is the FA Cup visit from Premier League bottom side West Brom

For Exeter City fans, 2017 began with the hope that they might see their side win a home game - they had won just three times in the league at St James Park in 2016.

Well their prayers were well and truly answered - 17 home wins over the past 12 months is the second-best in English football just behind Portsmouth,

They could have been level with Pompey had their Boxing Day meeting with Forest Green not been called off at half-time due to a waterlogged pitch with the game goalless.

Win 17 came thanks to Jake Taylor's stoppage time goal as they beat Barnet 2-1 on Saturday to move up to fourth place the League Two, a point off the automatic promotion places.

In fact, having won just seven home games in both 2015 and 2014, the beaten 2017 League Two play-off finalists have won just as many games at home in 2017 as they have done in the previous three years.

Imping their way up the league

Matt Rhead celebrates a goal against Forest Green Rovers
Matt Rhead has scored four goals in his last five games for Lincoln City

The side immediately above Exeter in League Two, Lincoln City, could well lay claim to the best 2017 of all.

The Imps are currently on a run of five wins from six league games - their final victory of 2017 coming against Forest Green on Saturday - the team that came up from the National League with them in April.

Danny Cowley's side have recovered from a sticky start - they failed to win six of their first nine fourth-tier games - to head on an upwards trajectory in League Two.

If they can keep up their form in 2018 they could match Bristol Rovers' fine feat in 2016 which saw them win back-to-back promotions from non-league's highest tier to League One.

Welcome to the Championship Tony

Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis gives orders from the touchline
Same pose, different baseball cap. Can Tony Pulis take Middlesbrough to the Premier League?

Match number 1,044 in the Tony Pulis managerial history book did not quite go to plan.

The former West Bromwich Albion boss was appointed Middlesbrough boss on Boxing Day following Garry Monk's surprise dismissal, with Pulis saying the club reminded him of the challenge he faced when he took the reigns at Stoke City for the second time in 2006.

Then it took him a couple of seasons to get Stoke into the top flight - a status they have retained ever since.

Whether he will have as much time at Boro is open to debate - Monk was sacked despite six wins from his last 10 games while Pulis has now gone 12 games without a win as a manager after a 1-0 defeat at home by Aston Villa - a side who themselves had not won any of their five previous games.

"I'll make a few changes, I'm bringing on players I don't even know," Pulis told BBC Tees.

"The one thing I'll say to all the supporters is there's a massive squad of players here and the chairman's spent an enormous amount of money on these players and I don't want to be rash in what I do and what I don't do."

Nine men. No problem

MK Dons' Osman Sow is sent off
Osman Sow pulls his best 'you cannot seriously be sending me off' face

If the old adage that it is harder to break down a team with 10 men is true, then surely it goes without saying that it must be almost impossible to get one over a team with nine players?

Well if you are an Peterborough fan you may well be tearing your hair out after they could not break down an MK Dons side who played for almost an hour with a two-man disadvantage.

Joe Walsh was sent off after just nine minutes for bringing down Jack Marriott when he was deemed to be through on goal.

But that did not stop Chuks Aneke scoring his seventh goal of the season to give the Dons a 27th-minute lead.

But it got worse for Robbie Neilson's men when Osman Sow saw red for an alleged high-footed challenge on Ryan Tafazolli after 35 minutes.

But despite Peterborough having 19 shots, seven of them on target, they could not find a way through as the Dons moved five points clear of the League One drop zone.

"Today showed the players are still fighting. They're desperate to do well, they're a really good group," Neilson to BBC Three Counties Radio.

"There was a lot of things that went against us today, decisions, incidents, but they kept fighting and kept going.

"This is a club that rose against the odds and a lot of the time you have to play against the odds as well."

Two rare wins

Birmingham City players celebrate Jacques Maghoma's goal
Birmingham City's late winner was just the eighth goal Blues fans have seen their side score at home this season

There has not been a lot of festive cheer for fans of Championship Birmingham City or League Two Accrington Stanley.

Blues had sunk to the bottom of the table and won just twice since the end of September heading into their final game of 2017.

Having picked up just two points from a possible 21 they looked nailed on to be the next meat in the Leeds United grinder - the Yorkshiremen came into the fixture at St Andrew's firmly set in the play-off places with five wins in a six-game unbeaten run.

But football has a funny way of ending runs when you least expect it - and so it proved as Jacques Maghoma's late goal saw all three points stay in the West Midlands.

Meanwhile in Lancashire, Stanley fans had seen Accrington lose five games on the bounce - dropping from the automatic promotion places to outside of the top seven.

But three second-half goals at Grimsby saw their bad run end and give them new hope going into 2018.

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