Southampton's loan players have enjoyed a busy period since transfer deadline day, as Nathan Tella has hit a rich vein of form whilst several youngsters have made their professional debuts. This and more in the latest Loan Watch…
The in-form Tella has stolen the headlines as he continues to shine at Burnley in the Championship.
After playing just under an hour in a 3-0 win over Norwich, the midfielder played a vital role in an FA Cup fourth round replay win over Ipswich Town last Tuesday; the midfielder scored both goals in a 2-1 win, opening the scoring in the second minute before dramatically securing progress with a 94th-minute winner.
Tella wasn’t done there in his stellar fortnight of action, however, as he scored his first hat-trick in senior football on Saturday in Burnley’s 3-0 win over Preston North End.
Despite professing that he wasn’t a goalscorer after his FA Cup exploits, Tella bagged his treble and claimed the match ball as he reflected post-match: “I just want to relive the moment for a bit.”
The goals took him 12 in 27 games for Vincent Kompany’s side, as he also picked up the Man of the Match award and a place in the EFL Team of the Week.
Elsewhere in England’s top two divisions, Jack Stephens returned from injury for AFC Bournemouth to play 90 minutes in their 1-1 draw with Newcastle in the Premier League, whilst Will Smallbone continued his development at Stoke with successive starts in the Championship.
Down a division in League One, Dynel Simeu maintained his step up to life in the third tier with Morecambe as he played 80 minutes and 90 minutes in successive games.
Despite suffering defeat against promotion-chasing Derby County, Simeu impressed as the Shrimps picked up a point at home against Forest Green Rovers with a 1-1 draw that leaves them one point away from safety with a game in hand on teams around them.
Two of Southampton B team’s players were in action in League Two as Kazeem Olaigbe shone on his Harrogate Town debut; despite falling to a 3-1 defeat against Stockport County, Olaigbe provided the dangerous cross that caused Harrogate’s consolation goal thanks to a deflection off the visiting goalkeeper.
Meanwhile, Ryan Finnigan started to establish himself at Crewe Alexandra with his debut off the bench against Grimsby Town which preceded his first and second starts all in the space of a week.
On Saturday, the midfielder enjoyed his best performance so far as he registered an assist as Crewe equalised against Crawley Town early in the second half, with Daniel Agyei scoring after latching onto Finnigan’s clever pass through the defence.
The game ended 2-2, with Finnigan sharing his thoughts on his time so far at the Railwaymen in a post-match interview: “I love it here, the lads and the gaffer and everyone have been really good to me.”
Down in non-league, several more B team players continued their first forays into men’s football across the pyramid.
Nico Lawrence has become a mainstay in the defence for National League side Torquay United as they picked up a point away to high-flying Woking, before falling to defeat against league leaders Notts County.
Lawrence then earned the club’s Man of the Match award at the weekend, as the Gulls were narrowly beaten by Barnet in the FA Trophy fifth round.
Lewis Payne joined Saints’ non-league neighbours, Eastleigh, on transfer deadline day and made his club debut that evening, playing the full 90 minutes as the Spitfires fell to defeat against then-5th place Barnet.
Payne enjoyed a late cameo at the weekend in the FA Trophy as Eastleigh were knocked out by fellow National League side Maidstone, leaving them with just a playoff push in the league to focus on.
In the National League South, Jack Bycroft had an unbeaten fortnight with Taunton Town, keeping back-to-back clean sheets as the Peacocks picked up two wins and a draw.
Bycroft earned extra credit for his efforts in a 3-0 win over Eastbourne Borough, with the opposing manager Danny Bloor praising “one of the best goalkeeping displays I’ve seen in a long, long time.”
Elsewhere, Will Tizzard picked up another full 90 minutes for Chippenham Town in their narrow defeat against playoff-chasing Braintree Town.
Lining up against Tizzard was fellow Saints B player Jack Turner, who joined Braintree on transfer deadline day.
The midfielder made his professional debut in a 1-1 home draw against Cheshunt before his side’s victory over Chippenham, as he also started on Saturday’s 1-0 win over Concord Rangers.
Finally in the division, Luke Pearce made his first appearances for Eastbourne Borough in his first senior loan; the young striker made his club debut in the Sussex Senior Cup against Bognor Regis before playing 90 and 70 minutes respectively in his league outings against Taunton Town and Dover Athletic.
Finally, up in Scotland, Thierry Small has made his first appearances for St Mirren after sealing the loan move on deadline day.
The left-back was introduced for his debut as a 76th-minute substitute against Aberdeen on the 1st of February and provided an assist in stoppage time as the Saints ran out 3-1 winners on the road.
Small followed that up with late cameos against Hibernian and Celtic as he has shown impressive touches for his new side as he awaits his first start.