During a busy Easter period of football, there was success for Southampton’s loan players with six teams enjoying an unbeaten weekend as Nathan Tella helped Burnley seal promotion back to the Premier League.
On Friday evening, Tella was once again a key factor as Burnley beat Middlesbrough 2-1 on the road to confirm their automatic promotion back to the top flight helped by a draw earlier in the day for third-placed Luton.
At the Riverside stadium, Tella assisted Connor Roberts’ winning goal with some trickery on the right wing and a pinpoint low cross that was slotted home to secure the victory.
Saints’ loan-star was chosen as Man of the Match in the game and followed that up with another assist on Monday night as Burnley beat second-placed Sheffield United 2-0 back at Turf Moor.
Vincent Kompany’s side are now unbeaten in 20 Championship games and need just four points to wrap up the league title.
Elsewhere in the Championship, Will Smallbone’s Stoke City suffered less favourable results as they fell to defeat against Bristol City before playing out a goalless draw with Birmingham City.
Meanwhile, in the Premier League, Jack Stephens did have success with AFC Bournemouth as he picked up a clean sheet in a vital 1-0 win away to Leicester that lifted the Cherries to 15th in the table.
Down in League One, Dan Nlundulu enjoyed an unbeaten bank holiday weekend as he returned to the Bolton Wanderers squad; the striker was introduced as a second half sub in Friday’s 1-0 win over Exeter City and Monday’s 1-1 draw with Cambridge that lifted Bolton into the final playoff place on goal difference.
At the other end of the table, Caleb Watts and Dynel Simeu both featured in a 3-1 defeat against promotion-chasing Plymouth Argyle on Good Friday as Simeu played the full match and Watts entered the fold in the final 20 minutes.
Then, on Easter Monday, Simeu was the only one to feature as a late substitute in a 0-0 draw away to Portsmouth that stopped a run of three consecutive defeats.
There was more joy in League Two, as Kazeem Olaigbe played a part in a dramatic unbeaten pair of games for Harrogate Town.
On Friday, the Yorkshire side rescued 2-2 draw from two goals down against AFC Wimbledon with Olaigbe assisting an 89th-minute strike that preceded a 97th-minute equaliser.
The young Belgian played the full 90 minutes again three days later when Harrogate overcame the same deficit to claw back another 2-2 draw, this time against league leaders Leyton Orient.
Outside of the EFL, Nico Lawrence has continued to play an important role in a remarkable upturn of form for Torquay United as he picked up the club’s Player of the Month award for the second month in a row.
The Gulls have the third-best form in the National League as they look to be masterminding a great escape, beating Eastleigh 2-0 at home before seeing off Maidenhead United 3-1 on the road across the Easter fixtures.
Gary Johnson’s side have won four games in a row and kept clean sheets in three of those as they have moved up to 21st in the table, just two points away from safety.
Down a division in the National League South, there was almost a clean sweep of victories for three more of Saints’ B team loanees.
Midfielder Jack Turner featured in an impressive double victory with Braintree Town as his side moved up to fifth in the league and are four points clear in the playoff places.
Turner played 80 minutes in a 2-0 win over playoff-rivals St. Albans City before being introduced as a second half sub in a 3-2 win over league champions Ebbsfleet, ending their remarkable 19-game unbeaten streak.
Jack Bycroft helped his Taunton Town side also pick up two wins to move the Peacocks up to 15th in the table and all-but secure their safety in the league for another season as they beat Bath City and Slough Town.
Meanwhile, Luke Pearce scored his sixth goal of his loan spell with Eastbourne Borough to overcome Dartford with a 2-1 win on Friday.
His side were unable to register back to back wins with a defeat on Monday, but Pearce played successive 90 minutes across the weekend and has remained in the playoff hunt.
Finally, up in Scotland, Thierry Small added more minutes to his time at St Mirren with a 45-minute display in an eventual 2-0 win over Hearts that has strengthened his side’s grip on fifth place in the league.