Miroslav Stoch continues to grab the headlines, and for all the right reasons. This past Saturday he scored twice for league-leading FC Twente as they maintained their unbeaten league record with a 3-1 win over NAC Breda, courtesy of two goals from our young Slovakian, and it’s in Holland where we start our latest round-up of loanee action.
Steve McClaren’s boys may be unbeaten but PSV Eindhoven are as well, and remain hot on their tails so maintaining a winning run is imperative as ever for the Enschede side, who are chasing their first league title since 1926. NAC, however, weren’t so accomodating and had taken a lead shortly before half time after Twente had missed a penalty through the usually reliably Blaise N’Kufo. Midway through a frustrating second half they were awarded a second spot kick when Stoch played Dwight Tiendalli in down the left, and when the full-back was fouled the young winger made a bee-line for the ball. He has taken penalties for Chelsea’s youth and reserve teams before but this was his first in professional football – not that you’d have known it. He nonchalently chipped the ball down the middle with Jelle ten Rouwelaar diving helplessly aside.
On level terms, Twente set about the winner but were met with further frustration, that is until the 67th minute. A cross from the right caused some defensive problems for Breda, and the ball fell to Stoch on the edge of the area. His first time volley was blocked but he retrieved the rebound and crashed a howitzer of an effort into the top corner before sliding off in exultant celebration. Bryan Ruiz was able to seal the win late in the day to tie an Eredivisie record with a goal in his tenth straight game, but make no mistakes, this was Miro’s night. He has ten goals in all competitions, eight in league competition, which makes him joint fourth highest goalscorer, and he’s one of the stars of the season so far. You can see highlights of the game, including both of his goals, by clicking here.
Whilst Slobodan Rajkovic is still out injured and not able to contribute to Twente’s success, it’s still by and large good news on the loanee front. We’ll start our domestic review at Premier League level where there was an unbeaten slate of Chelsea representation. Franco Di Santo was the only player to earn a start, putting in a good 76-minute shift for Blackburn away to Hull, and he created the game’s best opening for strike partner Nikola Kalinic. Winning a towering header despite tight marking, he dropped the ball perfectly into the Croatian’s path, but he slipped as he hit it and the effort squirmed wide.
At White Hart Lane Michael Mancienne started as a sub once again for Wolves but he came on for the last twenty minutes to help secure a famous 1-0 victory for Mick McCarthy’s men. He was booked in stoppage time but was part of a sterling defensive effort and will take a great boost in confidence from the outing after a recent shaky spell in both performances and results. At Stoke, Scott Sinclair was the beneficiary of an injury to Emmerson Boyce early in the second half, coming off the bench much earlier than usual to take part in an entertaining 2-2 draw. He was unwittingly involved in Maynor Figueroa’s goal, being felled just inside his own half for a free-kick. Naturally, he wouldn’t have expected the Honduran to smash the ball 60 yards beyond Thomas Sorensen’s reach, but that’s football.
It was an unbeaten showing in the Championship as well, where Patrick van Aanholt returned from suspension to join Jack Cork in Coventry’s starting line-up for a 3-2 win over Peterborough at the Ricoh Arena. After missing out on Wednesday night in the Sky Blues’ 2-0 home loss to Newcastle, Patrick returned at left-back and looked better than he has in recent weeks. Cork had a fantastic second half against the Magpies and was once again very useful at the weekend. As usual, you can read the impressive thoughts of GMK Online regarding their performances.
Ryan Bertrand was missing from Reading’s Saturday line-up with illness after he was withdrawn early against Crystal Palace in the previous midweek. The Eagles came away from the Madejski Stadium with a 4-2 win and Ryan came off after 68 minutes for Gylfi Sigurdsson, with manager Brendan Rodgers looking to chase a 1-3 deficit. Rhys Taylor, meanwhile, made the bench for QPR’s Monday night loss at Watford and is set to take the same position tomorrow night away to West Brom, a match you can see live on Sky Sports.
In League One, representation was largely left up to Liam Bridcutt this week. The Stockport midfielder, who was inactive in midweek as the Hatters saw another home match postponed (their second attempt at an FA Cup tie with Torquay), but ground staff managed to get the playing surface ready for Saturday’s visit of Charlton, who came away with a well-fought 2-1 win. Liam played the full 90 minutes and was quietly impressive against one of the division’s best teams. Elsewhere in the division, Jacob Mellis received a seven-minute substitute cameo for Southampton, as he replaced two-goal Rickie Lambert in their 3-0 stroll over Tranmere, but Tom Taiwo missed improving Carlisle’s home win over Wycombe with a bout of tonsilitis.
League Two saw more ups and downs for Nana Ofori-Twumasi, who was reportedly suspect positionally in defence and will have wanted to do better with his marking in allowing Bury’s Daniel Nardiello to score just before half time, but he put the seal on a good win for John Still’s team with a stoppage time goal, his second already of his brief loan spell at the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Stadium. You will be able to see his goal here in the coming day or so.
We’ll finish, as usual, with Matej Delac. With Croatia’s league on a winter break he is now in England, training with Chelsea. He spent his first day with the first team, including a formal welcome from Carlo Ancelotti and an informal ice-breaker from Didier Drogba, and has since joined up with the Reserve squad ahead of a friendly away to Celtic a week on Monday.