The brilliant Not The Top 20 Podcast is the largest independent EFL podcast. Presented and produced by Ali Maxwell and George Elek, NTT20 Pod’s regular offerings cover all the major talking points from across the three EFL divisions, throughout the season. You can subscribe on iTunes, Acast and Podbean or listen on SoundCloud.
By Ali Maxwell
After four excellent seasons with the club, it seemed that Aden Flint would leave Bristol City this summer, with a number of well-monied clubs sniffing around, but Lee Johnson and the board played their cards perfectly and kept their main man. Flint played only 8 league minutes in August, but as soon as the window closed he was back in the side. Since then, he’s helped with three clean sheets, three goals scored and 14 points from six September games.
The Robins play with a verve and energy that can suffocate teams. Looking at the exuberant celebrations after goals and the (in)famous goal GIFs, it seems that this squad’s togetherness is one of their major qualities. Flint is a huge part of that, and his sustained presence at the heart of the Bristol City defence has been the key reason for their successful September.
Villa achieved the best record in the Championship last month, and the emergence of Keinan Davis was major contributor. With Scott Hogan struggling to make an impact in Steve Bruce’s system, Davis came into the side after three games of the season, and neither he nor Villa have looked back.
Having never played League football before (Davis signed from Biggleswade Town having been released by Stevenage), the 19 year old has started the last eight games, in which the club have picked up 18 points. With the sort of energy, size and strength that makes defenders weep, Davis gives Steve Bruce a focal point up front, but don’t let his size distract from his fantastic touch – the ball seems to stick to him when played forward, and he’s shown an impressive ability to bring oncoming midfielders into play, as well as an emerging partnership with star man Jonathan Kodjia.
For the way he’s burst onto the scene and become undroppable for Bruce’s newly all-conquering Villa, Davis gets our nomination ahead of the ever-dependable Sam Johnstone.
He’s just absolute class. Match-winning performances against Millwall and Nottingham Forest, but in reality almost everything good about Wolves goes through Jota down the left. His link-up play with Vinagre the wing-back and Bonatini the striker makes it an obligation to shift forward in your seat when he receives the ball.
Five league goals in September, one assist and countless other chances provided, Jota is playing in the same role as Eden Hazard for Chelsea last season in Nuno Espirito Santo’s 3-4-3, and his contributions are just as important as the Belgian’s.
It’s impossible not to have a Shrewsbury nominee after a month that saw them take 19 points from seven games, including 7 from games against Wigan, Blackburn and Scunthorpe. The difficulty is deciding which player to choose! Paul Hurst is getting seemingly limitless performances from the whole team, not least a five-man midfield that provide quality, balance and dominance: Ben Godfrey, Abu Ogogo, Jon Nolan, Shaun Whalley and Alex Rodman.
But the strikers tend to get the glory, and that’s the case here. In Carlton Morris and Stefan Payne, Shrewsbury have two excellent options for the lone striker role, and both have used their time on the pitch to chip in with vital goals. But for opening the scoring in three victories, and setting up Jon Nolan’s winner against Southend and Toto Nsiala’s equaliser against Blackburn, Payne gets our pick. Finally being given consistent game-time, Payne is proving himself to be the goal-scorer that Non-League knew all about years ago.
Talking of prolific Non-League goalscorers making the step up… Kieffer Moore tops the League One goalscorer chart – his 9 goals have come in fewer minutes than Messrs Marriott and Pitman – and his early season form reflects that of his team. Both Moore and Rotherham needed a fresh start. Neither looked comfortable at Championship level, but both club and striker are back to their scintillating best.
Moore’s height is his most obvious attribute, and three of his nine goals have been headers, but you’d be wrong to pigeonhole him as merely a target man up to whom the ball is lumped. Rotherham’s attacking style is predicated on the quality behind Moore – Jon Taylor, Ryan Williams and Joe Newell work the wide areas, and Richie Towell and Lee Frecklington get forward to support from midfield. Moore’s ability to link play together and get on the end of chances has made him a deadly attacker at League One level.
It’s a good time to be an attacking player in a Wigan shirt. The Latics are playing with a swagger, an air of superiority that has seen them dominate the majority of games this season. Paul Cook has a number of contributors, and it’s clear that Nick Powell is the star man, but in terms of dependable options performing consistently, Michael Jacobs has been a standout performer. With a couple of goals in September, Jacobs is a big part of Wigan’s attack, coming in off the left to create or shoot. Despite huge competition for places, Jacobs had played every minute of the season before coming off at half-time last weekend. A Championship-quality player performing at a high level in League One.
An absurdly good month for Notts County saw them win six games in a row while conceding a single goal and charging to the top of League Two. It’s no secret that Jorge Grant is the jewel of the team, scoring four and setting up two goals in September and enjoying the adulation of County fans. There are murmurs that parent club Nottingham Forest may want him back in January, although his development since playing senior football across the River Trent suggests that a full season in League Two will do him the world of good.
Stanley bagged 16 points in September, and you don’t need to look far for a key performer. Billy Kee scored the opening goal in three victories, as well as a double to come from behind and beat Port Vale. Kee is a complete striker for League Two level, with quality on the ball, good awareness and a powerful shot. He’s been a consistent performer for Accrington over the last few seasons, and looks well on his way to surpassing his record of 17 league goals.
Jodi Jones has continued to sparkle in a Coventry team that picked up 16 points in September, conceding just three goals. Not yet prolific, they owe a lot of their points to Jones, who has put the team on his back and carried them forward on a number of occasions. We’re yet to see a League Two defender that can stop him one on one, and this skill on the ball helps him to draw defenders and play in team-mates, something he did on numerous occasions, racking up five assists in September to go with the winning goal against Port Vale.
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