Chelsea’s loan ranks swelled by one more this past week, and an immediate impression was made.
Conor Clifford signed an initial one-month youth loan at League One side Plymouth Argyle and just 24 hours after joining up with his new colleagues at Home Park, he put in a performance worthy of Man of the Match in a 2-1 home win over Huddersfield Town.
Wearing the number 7 shirt and replacing injured captain Carl Fletcher in the centre of midfield, the Irish Under-21 international wasted little time in showing Pilgrims fans what he has to offer.
Displaying his typical tenacity in an up-tempo, box to box performance, and in addition to going close with his sole effort on goal, his corner kicks – not usually seen at Chelsea – caused problems for the Terriers defence all afternoon.
He faded a little in the second half, perhaps understandable for his debut in senior football, but has done well in fan voting for Man of the Match and has made a promising start.
Elsewhere, it’s been a quiet week for Michael Mancienne, who was forced to miss Wolves’ defeat at Chelsea due to loan rules, but there was potential double duty for Ryan Bertrand and Jack Cork in The Championship.
It was a good week for Forest as they picked up six points and two much needed wins, both built off solid defensive outings culminating in clean sheets.
Bertrand was impressive against Middlesbrough on Tuesday night, almost providing an assist for Radoslaw Majewski, but the Pole saw his effort come back off the crossbar.
Unfortunately, he picked up a harsh yellow card for time wasting which took him to five for the season, and consequently a suspension, meaning he missed Saturday’s win over Ipswich Town.
Cork’s week, on the other hand, was an up and down affair. A 3-0 win over Barnsley was a fantastic result with a full 90 minutes in midfield, but Reading turned up at Turf Moor at the weekend and came away with a 4-0 mauling of the Clarets.
Jack was booked late in the game, and in truth nobody on the home team will come out of the match with much credit, but the positive for now is that he is firmly entrenched in Brian Laws’ starting plans.
As too is Rhys Taylor for Dario Gradi at Crewe. Saturday’s 3-1 win over Aldershot represented the first time the veteran manager has had to choose between the young Welshman and the veteran Steve Phillips, now recovered from injury, and Taylor kept his place.
Rhys had little chance in stopping Anthony Straker’s goal and saw another come back off the crossbar but he is an important part of a team now unbeaten in eleven games and who have moved into the playoff places.
Things aren’t going so well for Kilmarnock, who suffered a home defeat to Inverness CT on Saturday to leave them two places and two points from the bottom of the Scottish Premier League.
Ben Gordon completed another 90 minutes in defence and has this week been discussing the potential of extending his loan at Rugby Park beyond January. The move would represent good news for all parties and could potentially act as a precursor to a permanent deal next summer.
Troubled times are also striking Vitesse Arnhem in the Netherlands, as they sacked manager Theo Bos in midweek after a less than stellar start to the season.
It didn’t get any better on Sunday evening as they suffered an ignominius 4-1 home reverse to FC Utrecht as Matej Delac once again sat on the sidelines, watching Eloy Room concede four for the second week running.
Nemanja Matic was booked for dissent in the first half whilst Slobodan Rajkovic, restored to the team after hand surgery, scored an unfortunate own goal after just three minutes.
There was no pressure on him to rush the clearance but his attempted effort sliced wildly past Room and into the roof of the net.
We’ll finish with some good news though, in the form of Tomaš Kalas’ latest escapades. Sigma Olomouc B beat Zbrojovka Brno B on Sunday afternoon with the teenage defender scoring his first goal of the season with a header early in the second half.