EFL: A mighty rearguard action and bizarre goal among things you may have missed

Jack Grealish
Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish has been a key part of their run of four straight wins that has lifted them into the Championship play-off places

The race for the Premier League took another twist, a referee was at the centre of a key incident almost too bizarre to explain in a crucial relegation clash, and a team scored with basically every attack for about 10 minutes.

The theme of Saturday's EFL action was goals - keeping them out, not scoring them, breaking a record, going goal-crazy and scoring a pretty crazy goal.

Here are some of the things you might have missed.

Sheffield United - the clean sheet kings

Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson celebrates their victory at Leeds
On-loan Manchester United keeper Dean Henderson has been ever present for Sheffield United this season, last term he helped Shrewsbury reach the League One play-off final

Sheffield United secured a vital three points by winning 1-0 at Leeds to move above their opponents and into second place in the Championship.

They did so with the help of a seventh successive clean sheet. What's perhaps is even more impressive is that sequence was triggered by a calamitous end to their trip to Aston Villa on 8 February.

That night, Chris Wilder's side were 3-0 up after 82 minutes but somehow drew 3-3.

They have played 10-and-a-half hours of football since, and not conceded a goal. That is a heck of a long time - you could fly to India or the Bahamas and still have a spare hour or so to play with.

Just a couple of ideas there, if you fancy a getaway during the international break.

Stoke just can't score

Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones has won just twice in his 13 games as Stoke boss

Sheffield United would be Stoke City's worst nightmare. Potters games have become a bit like garlic to vampires in terms of goalscoring, following a third straight stalemate in the Championship.

Their latest shutout came against lowly Reading - having struck the woodwork twice in the space of a few minutes in the first 45.

No side in the top four divisions has endured more goalless draw than the Potters' seven, and their 37-goal tally is the lowest in the second tier.

What makes it more mystifying (and frustrating) is that they spent big on strikers - Benik Afobe (£12m) and Sam Vokes - to add to an attack which already included Bojan, James McClean and Tom Ince.

During three years at Luton Town, Nathan Jones turned the Hatters into a bona fide goal machine - they racked up 94 goals in 46 games in promotion last term - and he had a 51% win rate.

However, despite tightening up defensively and arresting an early run of losses to go seven unbeaten, goals remain the sticking point.

"It's difficult to put a finger on why we're not scoring," he told BBC Radio Stoke. "We're not playing defensive football. It would be so much different if we could just literally take a chance.

"We work far more on our attacking play, we've got some wonderful attacking players in theory, so I will demand a bit more from them now.

"We've got Tom Ince, James McClean, Sam Vokes, Thibaud Verlinden, Bojan Krkic and Mame Biram Diouf. We've got enough attacking players. Realistically, we can't pick any more attacking players."

Recording-breaking Bowen

Hull striker Jarrod Bowen celebrates
Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Jarrod Bowen has scored 36 goals for Hull City

When Jarrod Bowen made his first league start in Hull's 7-1 home defeat by Tottenham on the final day of the Premier League season in May 2017, he probably did not see himself breaking club records within two years.

He had only scored once in professional football at that point, and that was for Hereford in the National League.

His two goals against QPR on Saturday meant it was the eighth successive home match in which he has scored, beating a club record set by Bill Bradbury during the 1958-59 campaign.

And there was a Tigers fan there to witness Bowen's feat who also watched the previous record holder in action - and a whole load of other strikers before him.

Albert Cavill has been following Hull City since 1936. He turned 90 this week, and to acknowledge his unwavering support he was at the training ground and was a guest of honour against QPR.

Goal crazy Crewe

Crewe Twitter post after fifth goal
Crewe trailed to a 13th-minute penalty against Crawley, before roaring back in spectacular fashion

When you go behind to an early goal at home, supporters can quickly become disgruntled and the pressure can build.

When Crewe conceded against Crawley that pressure did build for 20 minutes or so, before truly exploding.

Jordan Bowery triggered a bonkers 11-minute spell either side of half-time, during which the Alex scored a staggering FIVE goals.

Not that Crewe boss David Artell was caught up in the hype.

"If we were a recipe, we'd be preheating the oven for the first 25 minutes," Artell told BBC Radio Stoke.

"We were sluggish, I told them at half-time, four goals in seven minutes masked a substandard performance. Goals change games.

"They had a sticky seven minutes and we took advantage. It doesn't surprise me we beat someone by [scoring] six."

Crewe won 6-1 in the end, by the way.

Pick the bones out of this

Oxford United's manager Karl Robinson protects referee Andy Davies as controversy breaks out over the winning goal against Bradford
Oxford United's manager Karl Robinson protects referee Andy Davies as controversy breaks out over the winning goal against Bradford

There's drama and then there's this - five minutes of total confusion over whether a stoppage-time Oxford goal would stand, or be ruled out to award Bradford a penalty.

Here's our best understanding of the situation:

  • 90+3 mins - Bradford unsuccessfully appeal for a penalty as Liam O'Brien goes down under a challenge six yards out as he shoots wide.
  • 90+4 mins - Oxford take a quick goal kick and go down the other end to score through Jamie Mackie.
  • 90+5 mins - After consulting his assistant, referee Andy Davies rules the goal out and goes back to award Bradford a penalty.
  • 90+8 mins - Minutes later, Davies changes his mind and finally awards Oxford the goal.

The outcome means Bradford stay bottom of League One, seven points behind Oxford, who move out of the drop zone as a result of the decision.

Needless to say, Bantams boss Gary Bowyer wasn't best pleased.

"I've never seen anything like it - not just as a football manager, but in my life. I'm not being funny, but I still can't understand what's gone on."

His opposite number Karl Robinson sympathised: "If I was Gary, I'd be devastated - I don't know what's gone on.

"We have to speak to you [the media] within 30 minutes, but we can't speak to the referee for 30 minutes. How stupid is that?"

Bradford City Twitter
The Bradford City Twitter admin wasn't the only one struggling...

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