After a wildly successful week last time out, many of Chelsea’s loanees came down to earth with a bump this week, with many suffering the adversity brought upon by end of season tension.
There was, however, another reason to celebrate, as one player scored his first professional goal, and we shall begin there.
Gael Kakuta was handed just his second start during a loan spell at Fulham which could have gone better, but he made it count by opening the scoring in a 3-0 win at Sunderland.
Having played ten minutes as a subsitute at home to Bolton earlier in the week, the Frenchman played on the left of midfield but found himself in prime goalscoring territory ten minutes before half time.
He received a pass around the penalty spot and appeared to have lost the chance with the ball getting stuck underneath his feet, but he remained composed and showed fine agility to work the ball back into place before prodding past Simon Mignolet.
You can watch the goal here.
Kakuta reportedly had a quiet game aside from the goal and was not as effective as he has been in cameo bursts, but nonetheless will be boosted by his first goal in senior football.
At the other end of the scale, Michael Mancienne’s first start in some five months for Wolves – in a local derby against Birmingham – saw him make a catastrophic error which could have huge ramifications in the battle to avoid relegation.
Under pressure from a huge long clearance, the defender was unable to direct his header towards safety and instead knocked it into the path of Sebastian Larsson, who slammed home the equaliser to secure a vital point for the Blues.
It was an unfortunate moment for a player who otherwise had a very good outing, particularly having been out for so long, but with every point so very precious at this stage of the season, he makes the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Daniel Sturridge was absent from Bolton’s trips to Fulham and Blackburn this week with an ankle injury suffered at the hands of Arsenal last Sunday.
In The Championship, Fabio Borini saw just 25 minutes as a sub for Swansea at Millwall (having been rested due to an ankle knock of his own) whilst Patrick van Aanholt was the odd loanee out again for Leicester City, playing no part at Doncaster.
Jeffrey Bruma did, playing 90 minutes at centre-back after his midfield goalscoring exploits last weekend, and had one of his better games in the position during the 1-1 draw.
Ben Gordon sat on the bench unused again for Alan Knill’s Scunthorpe, but a 5-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest confirmed relegation for the Iron.
It might be rather churlish to suggest as much, but in the fourteen games Gordon featured for the club, they won four, picking up fourteen points along the way. During the rest of the campaign or during matches without him, their record was poorer than that point per game record.
Knill arrived a month ago and clearly took a different view on the left-back’s abilities than Ian Baraclough did, but the season ends next week and he can return to Chelsea ready to take the next step in his career.
Jacob Mellis played just shy of an hour for Barnsley in a 2-2 draw at Sheffield United which relegated the Blades, and had a chance to score in the first half which he didn’t take. Jack Cork, meanwhile, was arguably Burnley’s best outfield performer in a 1-0 defeat at Leeds which extinguished chances of a playoff berth for the Clarets.
In League Two, Rhys Taylor’s tenth clean sheet of the season signalled Stockport’s relegation at the hands of his Crewe team, but Sam Walker’s Barnet have a final day battle on their hands to avoid joining County.
It was one of the Welshman’s quieter afternoons of the year, but prior to the match he spoke to the Sentinel in Staffordshire of his delight at the way the season has gone for him on a personal level:
“I owe a lot to Dario for keeping faith in me,” declared Taylor. “It’s been important to be playing games with the amount of injuries I’ve had in recent years, and get some experience under my belt.
“I know it’s hard for a manager to be prepared to give a young keeper a chance, but Dario has done that and I’m grateful.”
Walker, meanwhile, had his poorest day at Barnet so far, suffering a first defeat at the hands of a Jimmy Ryan inspired Accrington Stanley. The young custodian will be disappointed by the manner he conceded two of the goals, but to be fair to him, there was little defensive help in closing down either of the long shots which beat him.
Regardless, he goes into next Saturday’s match against Port Vale knowing a win must be achieved if they are to stand a chance of football league survival, and could yet become a hero in North London.
In Holland, Slobodan Rajkovic’s season has effectively been ended by his recent back troubles, continuing his prolonged absence by missing the club’s penultimate match of the season away to PSV.
Matej Delac was the substitute goalkeeper in the 2-1 defeat in Eindhoven.
Jhon Pirez’ Defensor team had no action this weekend with a break in the league calendar in Uruguay, whilst Lucas Piazon led São Paulo’s Under-17 team to a 5-0 win over Ituano, although he didn’t score a goal himself.