Loan Watch – Braithwaite & Armstrong make debuts, Pears hailed ‘outstanding’

Martin Braithwaite made his Leganes debut against La Liga giants Real Madrid this week.

It was quite the introduction for the Dane, who was delighted to secure a short-term loan move to the Spanish strugglers, claiming there was ‘no doubt’ that he wanted to join Mauricio Pellegrino’s side.

He was made to wait for his Leganes debut though, having been left out of the side that faced Espanyol last week, but the forward was handed his first at the Santiago Bernabéu on Wednesday.

His first outing in blue and white ended in a cruising victory for Madrid. Goals from Sergio Ramos, Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Junior have left Leganes with all to do in the return leg.

Braithwaite started the following game against SD Huesca on the bench as Pellegrino opted for a wing-back formation and preferred the forward pairing of Southampton loanee Guido Carillo and Youssef En-Nesyri.

The 27-year-old was introduced on 64 minutes but was quiet, only making one pass – a successful one at that – but also failing to register a shot in the minutes he was on the pitch.

Leganes’s next fixture is against Real Madrid once more, where Braithwaite will be hoping to make a positive impact.

Martin Braithwaite made his Leganes debut against Real Madrid

Luke Armstrong also made an introductory appearance for his new loan club after making the loan switch to League One side Accrington Stanley.

Stanley boss John Coleman, who saw Boro loanee Connor Ripley depart for Preston this week, had high praise for the young striker.

“Luke was on loan at Gateshead and scored 11 goals in 19 games, he has an eye for goal, he is hard-working and he is a hustle and bustle type of player,” he said.

“There were quite a few clubs chasing him and we feel he can do a job for us and we are looking forward to getting started with him.”

Armstrong was handed his debut straight from the off against Bristol Rovers on Saturday and almost marked it with a goal.

The 22-year-old saw his close range shot superbly saved by Rovers goalkeeper Jack Bonham in the 37th minute and also headed two chances wide before the final whistle.

It was a promising debut for Armstrong, in which he was voted joint Man of the Match in Accrington’s post-match Twitter poll.

Luke Armstrong almost marked his debut with a goal


George Miller and his Bradford side had their tails up after a turnaround in form which had taken them outside the League One relegation zone.

However they were firmly humbled by promotion chasing Barnsley, who themselves were in high spirits in the league having gone five games unbeaten.

Bradford started without Miller but introduced their third top scorer at half-time, in the hope that they could overturn a two goal defect – but it wasn’t to be for David Hopkins’ side.

The Bantams didn’t have a single shot on target in the whole of the game and only two shots at goal in total – even with the fresh legs of Miller on the pitch.

Perhaps more worryingly than the result for Miller was his manager’s post-match revelation of talks over a move for a new striker.

Speaking after the game, Hopkins confirmed that the club are in discussions with Bournemouth over a deal for Sam Surridge, which could impact Miller’s minutes.

“We know we need to get players in,” he said. “We’re limited to where we are just now – you could see with the bench we had today.”

Although their recent form has been promising in comparison to the earlier stages of the season, Bradford are in need of additions in the transfer window to aid their battle to stay up.

George Miller started on the bench this week


Aynsley Pears was in goal for Gateshead, who were looking to bounce back from successive defeats in recent weeks.

They faced a tough game against promotion chasing Solihull Moors at home on Saturday. The visitors were needed a victory to maintain momentum and keep up with the chasing pack.

Gateshead, meanwhile, are adjusting to life without top scorer Luke Armstrong, but they appear to be faltering without him.

Solihull gave themselves a foothold in the game, and Pears found himself picking the ball out of his own net twice – the first on 22 minutes and the second just shy of the hour mark.

Scott Boden halved the deficit to give the Heed some hope but their sudden lack of firepower in the final third is a worry for the National League outfit.

It was a disappointing defeat for Gateshead, but it could have been much worse had it not been for Pears in between the sticks.

The 20-year-old’s performance was praised by opposing manager Tim Flowers, who hailed his display ‘outstanding’.

“It was a tough evening, but I thought we were very effective,” he said. “I thought we created a shed-load of chances and didn’t take them due to some very good goalkeeping from Aynsley Pears in goal for them who had an outstanding night.”

Aynsley Pears was hailed as ‘outstanding’ by an opposition manager

Middlesbrough Minutes:

• Aynsley Pears – 90 mins vs. Solihull Moors
• George Miller – 45 mins vs. Barnsley
• Luke Armstrong – 90 mins vs. Bristol City
• Martin Braithwaite – 90 mins vs. Real Madrid, 26 mins vs. Huesca

Not involved: Marvin Johnson (unused sub)

Injured: Joe Fryer, Alex Pattison

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