Team of the week
Ross Turnbull - Doncaster Rovers
With the FA Cup first round occupying the thoughts of clubs in Leagues One and Two, this week's Football League XI is made up entirely of Championship performers. Between the sticks we have Turnbull - a man enjoying regular football at Doncaster after picking splinters out of his backside for four years at Chelsea. Still only 28, Turnbull showed he has lost none of his reflexes during time spent on the Stamford Bridge bench, with a smart penalty stop to deny Chris O'Grady earning Rovers a point in a goalless derby date with Barnsley on Saturday.
Jake Buxton - Derby County
The only side to have two representatives in our starting XI are Derby, with Buxton the first to make the grade. The Rams have been flying under new boss Steve McClaren and collected a third win in five over the weekend as they blew away Sheffield Wednesday at Pride Park. Buxton put the Rams on their way, with the powerful centre-half grabbing his second goal of the season on the stroke of half-time as he rose to meet a Jamie Ward corner and leave Owls keeper Chris Kirkland flapping at thin air.
Daniel Ayala - Middlesbrough
A villain to hero showing from Middlesbrough's defensive loanee on Saturday, with Ayala experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions during a 2-2 draw with top-six hopefuls Watford. It appeared as though a mistake from the Spaniard which allowed Fernando Forestieri to put the Hornets in front for a second time would prove costly, but there was to be a late twist in the tale. With time running out, Ayala trotted forward for a corner and ended up diverting a dramatic leveller into the bottom corner with a well-placed header.
Kyle Bartley - Birmingham City
Another man to experience a mixed afternoon on Saturday was Bartley, with the Birmingham defender seeing his emotions swing from one extreme to the other. With an away date at Huddersfield locked at 1-1 with just over an hour on the clock, Bartley took centre stage at the John Smith's Stadium. First, he opened his goal account for the Blues following a loan switch from Swansea. With nine minutes remaining, he then grabbed his second of the afternoon. His mood was to sour within seconds, though, as he was shown a second yellow card for hopping over the advertising hoardings in celebration.
Robert Hall - Bolton Wanderers
Scoring your first goal for a new club is always a special occasion, and Hall celebrated such a landmark on Saturday. Having secured a deal with Bolton over the summer after initially joining on loan, the 20-year-old forward has blossomed at the Reebok Stadium. Dougie Freedman's faith was handsomely rewarded against Millwall, with Hall opening the scoring in a 3-1 win. The youngster was teed up by Chung-Yong Lee with just five minutes gone, and made no mistake as he swept into the back of the net from the middle of the box.
Garath McCleary - Reading
McCleary has a reputation for producing the spectacular - a player who can sometimes amaze and frustrate in equal measure. He has added consistency to his game of late, and once again demonstrated his keen eye for goal during a home date with Queens Park Rangers on Saturday. There did not appear to be too much on as he collected a pass midway inside the QPR half, but a couple of touches later and McCleary drilled an unstoppable 35-yard rocket low into the bottom corner past a helpless Rob Green.
Joey Barton - Queens Park Rangers
McCleary's effort was deserving of winning any game, but he and Reading were forced to settle for a share of the spoils courtesy of Barton's intervention at the Madejski Stadium. Injury-ravaged QPR were desperately in need of inspiration from somewhere, and their talismanic midfielder provided it on 78 minutes. Stood over a 20-yard free-kick, Barton rifled the ball around the wall and past Alex McCarthy's fingertips before the Reading keeper had time to react. Cue a heart-warming celebration involving the shirt of crocked midfielder Alejandro Faurlin.
Will Hughes - Derby County
The second Derby man to make the grade is Hughes, whose performances at present are likely to be drawing plenty of admiring glances from the Premier League. The Rams will do well to retain the services of the England U21 international in January, with the teenage midfielder showing all the signs that he is ready for a step up in class. His goal against Sheffield Wednesday may not have been a classic, as he slid in at the back post to double Derby's lead, but he is about much more than sniffing out chances in the final third of the field.
Jamie Mackie - Nottingham Forest
There was derby joy again for Nottingham Forest on Saturday, with the Reds adding the scalp of Leicester to one already collected from fellow East Midlands foes Derby earlier in the campaign. A demonstration in how to grind out a result was offered by Billy Davies' side at the King Power Stadium, with Mackie - who embodies the art of grafting to prevail - helping to tame the Foxes. His effort, crashed home after Leicester failed to deal with a corner, put Forest in full control of the tie just before the interval.
Daryl Murphy - Ipswich Town
A five-goal thriller at Bloomfield Road was settled in favour of Ipswich by Murphy as he broke Blackpool hearts late on. A topsy-turvy encounter saw three goals scored in the last six minutes, with both sides netting in stoppage-time. Stephen Dobbie thought he had rescued a point for the Seasiders late on, but Ipswich went down the other end and grabbed the most dramatic of winners. Murphy's towering leap took him above the Blackpool defence and he powered home a header from Paul Taylor's corner.
Ross McCormack - Leeds United
Saving the best until last, McCormack enjoyed one of those weekends where everything he touched turned to goals. Leeds have often looked to the Scot to provide an attacking spark in recent times, but he was positively on fire as the Whites secured a 4-2 win away at Charlton. McCormack grabbed all four away goals at a rain-soaked Valley - making him the first man to achieve such a feat on the road for Leeds in 87 years. Two smart finishes, one penalty and a sumptuous free-kick saw McCormack single-handedly bring Charlton's five-match unbeaten run to a grinding halt.