It’s been a busy few days in Chelsea’s loan land, where after an uneventful week last time around, the latest instalment of the round-up features goals, red cards, and a return to action for Matej Delac.
We’ll start our tale in Croatia, where Delac has been missing for the best part of two months after going down with a bout of mononucleosis, or as it is more familiarly known, glandular fever. He has been patient in returning to full health and this Saturday returned to the Inter Zapresic goal for their visit to NK Varteks. Inter took the lead but succumbed to a 2-1 defeat, but it’s good to see him back in action. He will come to England at the end of this week with the Croatian season entering a winter break and train with the Reserves at Cobham, featuring in the upcoming friendly at Celtic on December 21st.
Staying abroad early in the roundup, and our attention turns to Holland, where league-leading FC Twente remained unbeaten with a 3-1 win away to Willem II, a game in which Miroslav Stoch scored again. He started the game in lively fashion and threatened early on with an effort from the edge of the area which came back off the bar (a familiar story this season) but with the game at 1-1 closing on half time, the Slovakian international struck. Played in through the inside left channel he got ahead of the last defender and opened his body as if to shape a shot across the goalkeeper, but sent him the wrong way as he crashed his shot high to the near side for a sumptuous finish. It was his seventh goal of the season in all competitions, but he won’t be adding to it this coming midweek, as he has a one-match Europa League suspension for yellow card accumulation. Slobodan Rajkovic, meanwhile, was once again missing injured.
To start off the English league coverage we have to go back to last Tuesday, where there was a full schedule of League One and Two action. Liam Bridcutt was back after missing a start with the flu but hapless Stockport fell 2-0 away to Colchester to continue their slide down the table. Jacob Mellis still can’t get a start for Southampton and was again an unused sub as the Saints won 3-1 away to Hartlepool, but Tom Taiwo did play as usual for Carlisle in one of the season’s most topsy-turvy games away to MK Dons.
In an astonishing start the Cumbrians found themselves 3-0 up after 19 minutes, but found themselves pegged back to 3-3 just after half time. Joe Anyinsah put them ahead again midway through the second half and in stoppage time, having already been booked late in the first half, Taiwo kicked the ball away, which meant he was sent off for the first time in professional football. It meant an immediate one-match ban, which would rule him out of the weekend FA Cup fixture at home to Norwich. In the only League Two representation of the night, Nana Ofori-Twumasi and Dagenham & Redbridge earned a credible clean sheet and draw away to high-scoring Bournemouth.
Wednesday night saw Premier League action for Franco Di Santo back in West London, as Blackburn came down to SW6 to play Fulham. He got 66 minutes in their disappointing 3-0 defeat at Craven Cottage and although Rovers had a good first half, Franco didn’t quite get into the game and the Cottagers overwhelmed them in the second period.
Into the weekend’s fixtures and Di Santo was again in the starting line-up as Stoke were the visitors to Ewood Park. He completed the game, which isn’t something that usually happens, and picked up a booking in a game which finished 0-0 and deservedly so. He put himself about well enough but like most players on the day, lacked quality when it came to the cutting edge. In other Premier League action, Scott Sinclair was an unused sub for Wigan as they bounced back from last weekend’s 9-1 humiliation with an impressive 1-0 win over Sunderland. Michael Mancienne returned to the Wolves line-up for the first time in a month for Sunday’s derby with Birmingham, starting at left-back. Wolves lost the match 1-0 and Michael was replaced at half time having had a torrid 45 minutes.
In the Championship, Jack Cork and Patrick van Aanholt were also back in West London as Coventry’s fixture list took them to QPR, where they earned a surprise 2-2 draw. Patrick notched his second assist of the season, lofting a deep free kick to Leon Best, who beat Radek Cerny with a looping header. Unfortunately, he had a poor afternoon otherwise, being given the runaround by Wayne Routledge, and, having been booked, was subbed with twenty minutes remaining. As mentioned last week, his confidence appears to be low and he is struggling in a poor team, and the time may soon come for him to take a break from the starting eleven. Cork was also booked but otherwise had his usual neat and tidy game (as much as he could have in a game where the Sky Blues were easily second best), but Rhys Taylor was again not on the QPR bench.
It wasn’t a good day for Ryan Bertrand’s Reading though. They were looking to build upon last weekend’s first home win in ten months but instead fell to a 2-1 defeat at Derby County, even after taking the lead. Ryan had his usual decent game without looking outstanding, but he was at least solid at both ends.
There was no League One or Two action, as it was FA Cup weekend., but there was no further Chelsea interest. Tom Taiwo was suspended for the aforementioned red card, but Carlisle managed to beat Norwich and earn themselves a plum tie in the third round with Premier League team Everton, which will be a great opportunity for Tom to impress if his loan spell is continued past the turn of the year for this fixture. Liam Bridcutt was out of action as well, with Stockport’s match with Torquay postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. Finally, Jacob Mellis has been prevented from playing for Southampton in the competition as Chelsea do not want him cup-tied, so he watched on as his team-mates beat Northampton 3-2.