It’s been another busy week for Southampton’s on loan players as campaigns come to an exciting close across the pyramid, with individual success for Championship pair Nathan Tella and Will Smallbone. This and more in the latest Loan Watch…
For promotion-winning Tella, he has been unfortunately sidelined through injury for Burnley’s last two games but was able to celebrate a personal accolade as he earned a place in the Championship Team of the Season.
With 17 goals and five assists in his 38 league games for the Clarets, Tella was joined by teammates Ian Maatsen, Connor Roberts, and Josh Brownhill in the division’s best eleven as voted at Sunday night’s EFL awards.
Meanwhile, on the pitch, fellow midfielder Smallbone passed 40 Championship appearances as he featured off the bench in Stoke’s midweek defeat against Wigan before playing a vital role in bouncing back at the weekend.
The Irishman started in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Cardiff City and assisted the game’s opening goal with a corner delivery that was headed home by Josh Laurent in the 16th minute.
Up in the Premier League, Jack Stephens endured a difficult Sunday afternoon with AFC Bournemouth as their recent form was halted by a crushing 4-0 defeat against West Ham United.
Down in League One, Kegs Chauke registered more minutes with Exeter City as his return to the side continued; the South African youngster has started three games in a row for the first time since December.
He featured for 81 and 90 minutes respectively in a tough week for the Grecians as they were narrowly beaten 2-1 by both sixth-placed Derby County and third-placed Sheffield Wednesday.
Elsewhere in the division, Dan Nlundulu remains part of Bolton Wanderers’ playoff charge as he featured twice off the bench in a draw against Burton Albion and a victory over Shrewsbury.
In League Two, B team midfielder Ryan Finnigan made his return to the Crewe Alexandra squad after missing the past month through injury.
Finnigan made his first start in six games and featured for just under an hour, but his side were beaten on the road by Leyton Orient who secured the league title with their victory.
The most impressive week came for fellow B team star Kazeem Olaigbe, however, who scored in two consecutive games for Harrogate Town in a midweek win that was followed by a weekend defeat.
On Tuesday evening, the young Belgian scored the second goal in a 3-0 dispatching of Walsall with a sumptuous strike from the edge of the box, which he followed up with a confident early finish against Northampton Town at the weekend that was ultimately cancelled out by the second-placed opponents.
Outside of the EFL, Nico Lawrence continued his vital experience with Torquay United as their survival hopes continue into the final weekend of the season.
The Gulls’ impressive recent form took a sudden hit as they travelled to playoff-contenders Chesterfield in midweek and were dealt an untimely heavy defeat.
Then, at the weekend, a heartbreaking last-minute Altrincham goal meant a vital Torquay victory turned into a 2-2 draw that leaves them needing a miracle to survive.
Lawrence, who has already won Young Player of the Season in his short time in Devon, will need to help his side defeat champions Wrexham and hope Maidenhead lose elsewhere with a seven-goal swing to stay up.
One side who could be trading places in the top tier of Non-League football is Braintree Town, as Jack Turner helped the Iron seal a playoff place in the National League South.
Turner was introduced as a late substitute to see out a 2-0 win over Eastbourne Borough and secure a top seven finish that means their season will continue into the thrill of May’s playoff cycle.
On the other end of Braintree’s victory was B team striker Luke Pearce, who played just under an hour for Eastbourne as their defeat meant a top seven finish is narrowly out of reach.
Elsewhere, goalkeeper Jack Bycroft featured in a midweek defeat for Taunton Town but missed their weekend victory through a minor injury.
After enjoying a successful campaign and securing his side’s safety earlier in the month, Bycroft is likely to return for the final two matches of his fruitful loan spell.
Finally, up in Scotland, Thierry Small had a game to swiftly move on and learn from as he was sent off after two quickfire bookings in St Mirren’s defeat against Kilmarnock in the final match before the Scottish Premiership splits apart.