Top Five Moments From the EFL in 2020


In a year that has almost entirely been dominated by Covid-19, the EFL has, for the most part, been able to continue, providing an outlet for so many fans in such challenging times.

League’s One and Two saw their 2019/20 campaigns curtailed and the positions were determined on a ‘Points Per Game’ basis, a system that sparked controversy amongst many fans and a high number of clubs themselves.

With the Championship carrying on in June and concluding in late July, the start of the 2020/21 campaign for all EFL clubs was pushed back to mid-September. This has subsequently led to a more congested fixture list, with two games a week becoming the norm.

Despite the pandemic, the action-packed nature of the EFL and the associated drama has been ever-present this calendar year. This top five list draws upon the some of the extreme highs witnessed in 2020.

Top Five EFL Moments From 2020

Wycombe’s Promotion to the Championship on Arguably the Lowest Budget in League One

Ahead of the 2019/20 League One campaign, Wycombe Wanderers were preparing for their second season in the third tier. After a 17th placed finish the season before, the Chairboys were once again not a very fancied outfit, with only Bolton Wanderers and Bury below them in the promotion odds.

Despite the bookmakers suggesting a season of looking behind their shoulder, Wycombe started the season off brilliantly, losing just one of their opening 20 games. However, their inconsistent start to 2020 saw the Buckinghamshire club drop down to eighth, before the season was brought to a halt in mid-March.

Despite finishing outside the top six, the Chairboys managed to finish the season in third place, when the English Football League implemented their PPG system. Wycombe travelled to Fleetwood Town in the first leg of the play-off semi finals, recording an emphatic 4-1 victory against a side who had not been beaten in their previous 12 games. The Chairboys secured a place in the final with a 2-2 draw in the home fixture, setting up a tie with the division’s most in-form side, Oxford United.

The common theme of being huge underdogs was once again the case at an eerily quiet Wembley Stadium. But, the Chairboys silenced all the doubters after just nine minutes when Anthony Stewart nodded in from Joe Jacobson‘s in-swinging corner. The U’s equalised in the 57th minute when Mark Sykes’ attempted cross, fortunately, lobbed over Ryan Allsop in the Wycombe goal. Oxford went on to dominate from their equaliser, but it was ultimately Wycombe who had the last say, when Joe Jacobson coolly converted from the penalty spot after Fred Onyedinma was clattered inside the box in the 79th minute.

Wycombe side had to withstand some late pressure, but held on to a 2-1 victory, earning a place in the Championship for the first time in their history.

Wigan 8-0 Hull City

Wigan Athletic were a side who suffered immensely from the financial impacts of the pandemic, entering administration on July 1. Despite being eight points clear of the drop zone at the time and in tremendous form, The Latics received a 12-point deduction as a result of their administration and effectively dropped to the foot of the table given the controversial way the deduction was implemented by the EFL.

Less than two weeks after their points deduction, Wigan hosted Hull City in an majorly important relegation battle. The Latics still occupied bottom place, whilst Hull were just a point above the relegation zone.

Wigan needed a win to go above their relegation-threatened counterparts, and win they did. The hosts went into the break 7-0 up, scoring six goals in an 18-minute period. Kieran Dowell added his third and Wigan’s eighth midway through the second half, earning an 8-0 victory in a time of uncertainty for the club.

In fact, the win meant Wigan edged out of the relegation zone, bolstering their chances of Championship survival. However, two draws in their last two meant they were relegated.

Leeds United Finally Back in the Premier League

After a 16-year absence, 2020 proved to be the year for Leeds United, remarkably returning to the Premier League. The marvellous Marcelo Bielsa finally worked his magic on a Leeds United side who had seemingly been sucked into the EFL vacuum since their relegation from top flight football in 2004.

Not many fans would have expected such an emphatic season after the play-off heartbreak suffered against Frank Lampard‘s Derby County. But, the squad showed elite mentality, picking up 13 points from the first five games and subsequently found themselves at the top of the pile.

Coming into 2020, the Whites occupied top spot on goal difference, but were ultimately nine points clear of third place. However, a disappointing start to January saw the Yorkshire club pick up just a single win in their first seven games, cutting the gap between them and the play-offs to just a point.

But, their gloom was short-lived and were back to their very best in mid-February. The Whites went on to win 12 of their remaining 14 games from their draw at Griffin Park, eventually winning the division by ten points. Leeds looked unbeatable in the latter stages of the season and deservedly earned to be feared by the Premier League, and have certainly troubled a number of teams in England’s top tier.

Harrogate Town Win Promotion to the EFL

When Covid-19 enforced a break in professional football and the National League was decided upon a highly criticised PPG basis, Harrogate Town were one side who did not want to stop. The Sulphurites were the division’s most in-form side and were just four points off league leaders Barrow, who were starting to show cracks.

After talk of the Yorkshire club gaining automatic promotion, it was decided that the play-offs would go ahead. Unlike a traditional play-off semi final, Harrogate hosted Boreham Wood, with Jack Muldoon‘s goal midway through the second half securing a well-fought 1-0 victory and a visit to Wembley.

In the final, the title favourites from the start of the season, Notts County, stood in the way of  Harrogate and an unlikely yet deserved promotion to the Football League. The Yorkshire club got off to a flying start in the capital and found themselves 2-0 up in 28 minutes, with goals from George Thomson and Connor Hall. Callum Roberts pulled a goal back for the Magpies just after the second half, but Jack Diamond killed the game off in the 72nd minute, earning his Harrogate Town side a 3-1 win and more importantly, Football League status.

Harrogate chairman Irving Weaver revealed that promotion to the English Football League meant that the club will pocket over £1.1 million in the 2020/21 campaign, a significantly higher figure than if they remained a non-league outfit.

Barnsley’s Great Escape

Barnsley are a side who have recently struggled to consolidate a place in the Championship, whilst proving to be too superior when in League One. This once again seemed to be the case during the 2020/21 campaign with The Tykes looking destined for relegation. They found themselves seven points adrift when football resumed in late June and their situation was worsened by the fact that their last three games were against sides chasing promotion in Leeds, Brentford and Nottingham Forest.

Barnsley took seven points from their first three games after the season had resumed, but four games without a win followed, despite giving Leeds a very difficult test with three games to go. With two games to go, Gerhard Struber’s side were two points off safety, but still occupied bottom place and hosted a Nottingham Forest side, who despite looking in a comfortable position, still needed points to ensure a play-off spot. After 92 minutes of goalless action, up stepped substitute Patrick Schmidt, converting from close-range and keeping Barnsley’s survival hopes alive.

But, Barnsley had to overcome an even bigger task and beat Brentford who were fighting for automatic promotion on the final day. Prior to kick off, they had moved up a place to 23rd, but ultimately remained two points off safety and needed the win to even have a hope of staying up. Barnsley midfielder Callum Styles fired the visitors into the lead just before half time, before Josh Dasilva equalised with 15 minutes to go. A 1-1 draw was not enough for both sides, which led to a very open last ten minutes, and it was Barnsley who eventually got the winner when Clarke Oduor tapped in from no more than a yard out.


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