EFL Trophy: Derby County goalkeeper Josh Vickers returns with win after death of wife Laura

Josh Vickers playing for Derby County
Josh Vickers made his third appearance for Derby County this season

Derby County goalkeeper Josh Vickers helped his side to victory as he returned to football after the death of his wife last month.

Laura Vickers died from cancer just a few months after their marriage.

His team-mates paid tribute to their keeper and Laura after she passed away – and the 27-year-old returned to help his side win 2-1 at Notts County to stay top of their EFL Trophy group.

The game was one of 21 played in the competition’s group stage on Tuesday.

Louie Sibley was on target for both the Rams’ goals in the win at Meadow Lane, which puts them three points clear at the top of Northern Group G.

In the other game in the group, Lincoln City beat Wolverhampton Wanderers’ academy side 2-0 to draw level with their visitors on three points.

Internationals and rare derbies

Cedric Soares plays for Arsenal at Exeter City
Cedric Soares’ start against Exeter City in the EFL Trophy was his first for Arsenal in 11 months

Wolves were one of seven Premier League and Championship academy sides in action with the biggest name on display being Arsenal’s Portugal defender Cedric Soares.

He made his first start of the season as the Gunners’ youngsters won 5-0 at League One side Exeter City to stay second in Southern Group G and qualify for the knockout phase.

History was made in the other game in the group as neighbours Swindon Town and Reading met for the first time in a competitive fixture in more than 21 years – they last faced one another in a 0-0 draw at the County Ground in what is now League One in February 2002.

Reading came away with the spoils as Harvey Knibbs’ hat-trick helped them to a 5-0 win – a victory which sees the group leaders progress with a game to spare.

It was a much different outcome from the last time the two sides met in Berkshire when goals from Giuliano Grazioli, Danny Invincibile and Jo Kuffour helped Swindon to a 3-1 win nearly 22 years ago to the day.

One of the most eye-catching results of the night came at Charlton Athletic as the League One side beat Aston Villa’s youngsters 4-2 to go second in Southern Group B, while Sutton United edged leaders Crawley Town 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the other fixture.

Arsenal were one of three academy sides to come away with a victory on Tuesday night – as Silko Thomas’ goal helped Leicester City win 1-0 at Tranmere Rovers, while Josh Powell and Ben Perry scored in Nottingham Forest’s 2-0 win at Carlisle United.

Forest’s Northern Group C rivals Accrington stay top after a 5-3 win at Harrogate Town, while in Group D Wigan Athletic came from 2-0 down and led 3-2 before conceding in stoppage time to draw 3-3 with Fleetwood Town – but the Latics won the penalty shootout 4-3 to go a point clear of the Cod Army at the top.

Liverpool’s academy led early on before eventually losing 5-2 at Blackpool as Kylian Kouassi’s hat-trick gave the Seasiders a three-point cushion at the top of Northern Group A after Morecambe beat Barrow 3-1 in the other fixture.

Another win for McDonald

Kevon McDonald plays for Bradford City
Kevin McDonald joined Bradford City in the summer after turning down the chance to stay at Exeter City

This managerial lark seems to be rather easy for Bradford City caretaker boss Kevin McDonald.

The former Scotland, Fulham and Exeter City player took interim charge of the Bantams last week following Mark Hughes’ sacking and led them to a 1-0 win over Swindon Town in League Two on Saturday.

He backed that up with another victory as his side won 2-1 at Grimsby Town in Northern Group F.

Elsewhere in the Northern section, Mansfield Town needed a late Callum Johnson goal to beat Doncaster Rovers 3-2 in Group H and Stockport County were 3-1 winners at Salford City in Group E.

Group B’s qualifiers for the knockout stages have already been decided with leaders Wrexham and Port Vale making it through.

The Dragons were 3-0 winners at Crewe Alexandra while the Valiants’ 3-2 shootout win after a 1-1 draw with Newcastle United’s academy ensured they will progress along with the Welsh club. The two meet in the final round of fixtures to determine who takes top spot.

Searle the penalty hero

Jamie Searle saves a penalty for Forest Green Rovers
Jamie Searle joined Forest Green Rovers on a free transfer in the summer

Jamie Searle has yet to play a league game for Forest Green Rovers, but he will have done fans of his new club no harm with his impressive performance from 12 yards at Walsall.

Having saved Ross Tierney’s second-half spot-kick in normal time, he went on to foil two more penalties in the shootout after the teams were locked at 1-1 after 90 minutes.

The former Barnsley stopper saved penalties from Ryan Stirk and Danny Johnson to seal a 4-2 shootout win and earn an extra point that takes them top of Southern Group A.

In the three other games in the Southern section, Portsmouth cruised to a 5-1 win at home to Gillingham to go top of Group E, Wycombe Wanderers sealed progression from Group C as Sam Vokes’ 70th-minute effort gave them a 1-0 win at Stevenage, while Newport County opened their campaign with a 2-0 win at struggling Cheltenham Town.

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