With just two weeks left of the football season, late April often sees fates decided across England and indeed Europe. This weekend’s loan action sees relegation confirmed for one Chelsea youngster, which in turn ensures safety for another.
The unfortunate loanee is Jack Cork, who started against Liverpool in an eventual 4-0 defeat which ensures the Clarets will be returning to The Championship after just one season. The Carshalton-born midfielder has become a regular in the midfield after a slow start at the club and held his own in a match he finished, picking up a yellow card along the way. Playing on the left of the pitch – as he has often lately – he provided a fine cross early in the second half which saw handball appeals against Daniel Agger denied, but will have been disappointed not to do better with a header just before the break which would’ve given his side the lead.
With Burnley joining Portsmouth and Hull (to all intents and purposes) as relegated sides, it means Wolves and Michael Mancienne have secured safety. They continued their fine defensive run of late in holding Blackburn to a 1-1 draw at Molineux, with Michael firmly a first-choice in holding midfield. He made way after 66 minutes on Saturday as Mick McCarthy opted for more attacking options, and was vindicated as Sylvan Ebanks-Blake rescued a late equaliser.
On the other side, Franco Di Santo came on for the last five minutes of action, as Sam Allardyce responded to Ebanks-Blake’s goal, and the Argentinian was desperately close to stealing the win, as he crashed an effort off the outside of the post with his left foot after a one-two with Keith Andrews. His minutes may continue to be minimal, but it was a positive showing for the first time in a few outings. Elsewhere in the Premier League, it’s as you were for Scott Sinclair, as he sat on the bench for the duration of Wigan’s 3-2 defeat at Upton Park, which ensured West Ham’s survival.
Reading’s Ryan Bertrand has seen double action again this week as the Royals catch up on their fixture list, displaced due to the FA Cup run. On Tuesday they dropped a 2-0 lead at Scunthorpe to only come away with a point, and then on Saturday, with their season very much over, Watford turned them over to the tune of a 3-0 win at Vicarage Road. For his part, Ryan has been credited by supporters as one of the few who looked interested, and the match marked his 50th club appearance of the season, a fantastic milestone.
The club’s other left back out on loan, Ben Gordon, also had the opportunity of two fixtures in his final week at Tranmere Rovers, but remained unused on Tuesday night on returning to familiar pastures at Brentford’s Griffin Park, where he has played many a reserve fixture. He wasn’t involved in the matchday squad on Saturday and would appear to have returned to Cobham as scheduled.
The Dutch league took a week’s break for the Cup Final, so Miroslav Stoch and Slobodan Rajkovic have another seven days to prepare for the biggest occasion of their careers to date, as the Eredivisie title will be decided next Sunday lunchtime, at the same time as Chelsea play away to Liverpool. Matej Delač was also out of league action for Inter Zapresic, but they did beat NK Bregana 5-0 in a friendly fixture.