It was a winning weekend for Southampton’s SkyBet Championship loanees as Nathan Tella and Will Smallbone both played vital roles for their sides, whilst several younger players continued to pick up valuable experience across the football pyramid. All this to come in this week’s Loan Watch…
With Burnley in fine form at the top of the Championship table, they faced a tough test at home against an in-form West Brom side coming into their Friday night fixture.
Tella started at Turf Moor and, after conceding a seventh minute opener, hauled his side back into the game with a second half equaliser, earning himself the Man of the Match award for his efforts.
After being played in behind the defence, the 23-year-old showed composure to fire in his ninth goal of the season for Vincent Kompany’s side, who maintain their five point lead at the top of the table.
Elsewhere in the division, Will Smallbone also enjoyed a goalscoring weekend as he helped Stoke City return to winning ways with a 4-0 triumph over Reading.
The midfielder returned to the squad after missing their last two games and scored the opening goal in the 11th minute, calmly passing the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area after his side pressed high to dispossess the defence.
It was Smallbone’s second goal of the season as the emphatic victory helped the Potters record their first league win of 2023.
Down a division in League One, both Dan Nlundulu and Kegs Chauke picked up more first team minutes for their respective clubs in tricky away defeats.
Nlundulu made his first start for Bolton Wanderers in their narrow defeat against Derby County, with the Saints striker playing 73 minutes at Pride Park.
Meanwhile, Chauke was introduced as a half-time substitute in Exeter City’s trip to Portsmouth, with the Grecians falling to a 2-0 defeat.
Postponements meant that B team midfielder Ryan Finnigan was kept waiting for his Crewe Alexandra debut in League Two, but one step further down the pyramid his Saints B teammate made an impressive start to life on loan in midweek action.
Centre-back Nico Lawrence made his professional debut on his first start for Vanarama National League outfit Torquay United in their FA Trophy win over Taunton Town on Tuesday evening.
Lawrence played the full 90 minutes in the dramatic tie, getting himself an early assist as the Gulls raced into an early two-goal lead.
Their lower-league opponents made a rallying comeback, but Torquay put the tie beyond doubt in the second half to advance into the fifth round with a 4-2 win, as Lawrence received glowing praise from his new manager, Gary Johnson.
Gary Johnson [on Nico Lawrence]It was a strong debut because he didn't try to overdo it - he was solid and made [the second] goal where he rose above people from a deep free-kick.
TORQUAY UNITED MANAGER
On the other end of that FA Trophy fixture was young goalkeeper, Jack Bycroft, who continues to impress with Taunton in the National League South.
He made some important saves against Torquay, but his side were ultimately beaten by their higher-division opponents.
Lastly, outside of England, Kazeem Olaigbe was also in cup action as his Ross County side were only beaten on penalties in the fourth round of the Scottish FA Cup.
Olaigbe started and played 102 minutes as his side were taken the distance by Hamilton Academical, with the game ultimately being decided by a shootout after the Belgian youngster was substituted in extra time.