EFL: Purple patches, pink walls and Mr Socko among five things you might have missed

By Michael BeardmoreBBC Sport
Billy Sharp.
Billy Sharp quietened Carrow Road with two equalisers as the Blades had the last laugh on and off the pitch

The grey days of January are nearing an end - so it was appropriate that the EFL was suddenly awash with colour on Saturday afternoon.

The Football League's top strikers continued their purple patches in front of goal, it was a black day for one manager, another blue afternoon for those with travel sickness, while one team was certainly not tickled pink by their rivals' tactics.

So grab a coffee - black or white, your choice - sit back and check out the full spectrum of things you might have missed.

Blades in the pink after socking it to Norwich

Sheffield United were not the first - nor will they be the last - team to encounter the uniquely-decorated away dressing room at Carrow Road this season.

The Canaries painted the visitors' changing rooms pink at the start of the campaign - with some observers suggesting City were trying to gain a psychological edge over their opponents.

If that was the plan, it has worked thus far this season - Norwich began the day in second place in the Championship, with the division's second strongest home record behind leaders Leeds, having picked up 29 points out of a possible 45 in Norfolk.

Chris Wilder's Blades, however, were not tickled pink by the prospect of preparing for a promotion six-pointer in such a striking ambience.

So, judging by the Blades' pre-match video,external-link it seems their kit man - or some other willing volunteer - arrived early to cover the salmon surroundings with reams of white A4 paper.

Norwich City away dressing room
West Bromwich Albion posted this picture of the away dressing room at Carrow Road on Twitter earlier this season

United's plan had the desired effect as instead of folding when they twice went behind, they fought back on both occasions to earn a 2-2 draw.

Top scorer Billy Sharp - who else? - was their hero, netting both goals to take his tally for the season to 18.

And, with Royal Rumble just around the corner, the striker celebrated his first goal with a WWE-inspired routine.

Sharp pulled out his version of Mr Socko - a sock puppet made famous by wrestling legend Mick Foley and his various ring alter egos - and performed his "Mandible Claw" finishing move on teammate George Baldock.

His tribute was even spotted by Foley himself, who called the tribute 'tremendous' in a tweetexternal-link.

Amazingly, Sharp has now not been on the losing side in 47 straight games when he has found the net - that's quite a run but it's not the only one going...

Billy Sharp
Sharp gets Mr Socko out and treats teammate Baldock to a rather nasty looking WWE-style submission move

Purple patches go on for red-hot marksmen

The game at Carrow Road featured two of the Championship's top scorers in Sharp and Norwich's Teemu Pukki, whose own strike moved him on to 17 for the season.

But the pair are still green with envy at the man they trail in the wake of - Aston Villa's Tammy Abraham, who stands on 19 goals after his double downed basement side Ipswich.

The Chelsea loanee last month turned down a move to Premier League Wolves - and it's no wonder as he seems to love Villa Park.

Abraham has now scored in seven straight home games for Dean Smith's Villa, netting 12 goals in the process.

Tammy Abraham.
Tammy Abraham's double against Ipswich made it 12 goals in his last seven games at Villa Park for the Chelsea loanee

Amazingly, Villa had gone five home matches without a win before Saturday, despite Abraham netting nine times in that run - but victory over Ipswich put that to bed.

Staying with the colour theme, Preston's Alan Browne deserves a mention - he is only just outside the Championship's top 10 goalscorers after reaching double figures for the season.

Browne's goal in the 2-0 win at Stoke took him to 10 for the season - as many as he had scored in his previous 111 league appearances before this campaign.

And, in League One, Barnsley's Kieffer Moore (14) and Rochdale's Ian Henderson (15) each kept up their scoring streaks in the Tykes' 2-1 win at Oakwell.

But no one can match the EFL's top scorer Abraham - and his efforts meant another depressing away day for one of two 'blue' Championship travellers...

Blue away days go on for sorry strugglers

Spare a thought for the hardcore followers of Ipswich Town and Wigan Athletic - those fans that will travel to all ends of the country to watch their team.

They have had scant reward this season - both sides have identical away records: P15 W1 D2 L12. That's five points from a possible 45 on their travels. Five.

Fully aware of bottom side Ipswich's awful away record, manager Paul Lambert paid for their travelling supporters' coach fare for last weekend's trip to Blackburn.

Lambert must have earned a few bob during a playing career with Borussia Dortmund and Celtic plus managerial stints at Norwich and Villa - but he could well go bankrupt if he keeps that kind-heartedness going.

Their inability to avoid defeat on Lambert's return to Villa Park means Ipswich have now lost six straight games on the road, their worst away run for more than a decade.

Paul Cook's Wigan are no better on their travels - their home form is keeping them out of the relegation zone - and new Nottingham Forest boss Martin O'Neill could not have wanted more hospitable visitors.

Joe Lolley scores Nottingham Forest's opening goal against Wigan
Joe Lolley netted the first goal of Martin O'Neill's managerial reign at Nottingham Forest

Strikes from Joe Lolley and Matty Cash helped ensure O'Neill was quids in and extended Wigan's away misery - but fans of both the Latics and the Tractor Boys need to know this: things could be worse.

Just ask your relegation rivals Rotherham - they have not won away in the Championship since April 2016, a run spanning 40 trips.

Pot of gold awaits Luton at end of rainbow

One side who don't struggle to pick up points on their travels - or at home for that matter - are new League One leaders Luton Town.

It's been a long, hard road for the Hatters this past decade but they are within sight of a return to English football's second tier for the first time since 2007.

Luton - League Cup winners in 1988 and top-flight regulars during the 80s - suffered three successive relegations between 2007-09 as they plummeted from the Championship all the way into non-league.

Financial problems that led to the club entering administration - and being docked 30 points in 2008-09 - did not help.

Four failed attempts at promotion back into the Football League followed, despite the Hatters finishing in the top seven every season, twice losing in the National League play-off final.

But non-league specialist John Still got them up in 2014 and, after finishing runners-up in League Two last year, back-to-back promotions are beckoning.

Luton celebrate.
Luton Town celebrate Matty Pearson's winner at Southend that put the Hatters top of League One

Saturday's 1-0 win at Southend put Luton - attired nattily in orange, you might notice - top of League One as they took advantage of Portsmouth's FA Cup commitments.

And all this, despite having seen manager Nathan Jones leave for Stoke City and yet to be replaced. Who needs a manager, eh? Well, actually...

Black day for Evans as Posh turn to old hand

Peterborough need one. Or they did, for a few minutes.

Despite sitting sixth in League One, inside the play-off places, Posh manager Steve Evans was relieved of his duties following United's 0-0 draw at home to promotion rivals Charlton Athletic on Saturday.

Steve Evans.
Steve Evans was sacked by Peterborough on Saturday evening after less than a year in charge at London Road

While the aforementioned Luton have taken two weeks and counting to appoint their new boss, Peterborough took fewer than two hours.

Former boss Darren Ferguson has returned to London Road for a third spell on a deal that runs until the end of the season.

Evans, appointed in only March 2018, paid the price for a run of just two wins in nine league games - a sequence that has pushed Posh out of contention for automatic promotion and clinging on to a play-off spot.

His replacement Ferguson has taken the club into the Championship before but on a day littered with colour, the question remains: Can he bring the silverware that chairman Darragh McAnthony desires?

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