Loan Watch – Christmas gifts all round for Boro’s loanees

Christmas is upon us and Boro’s loanees were eager for an early present in this weekend’s fixtures. 

Tyrone O’Neill, Alex Pattison and Enes Mahmutovic were the loanees not involved this week, as well as long-term absentee Joe Fryer.

Armstrong adds to tally…

 Luke Armstrong made it nine goals for the season this week

Luke Armstrong was without a fixture last weekend due to bad weather, but his return to action was marked in typical striker’s fashion.

The 22-year-old has kept up his keen eye for goal which earned him a move back to Boro from Blyth Spartans last summer.

In their rearranged FA Trophy game against Salford, Armstrong scored his ninth goal of the campaign.

The game itself was a disappointing one for the Heed – who went 3-0 down before Armstrong struck a consolation at the end.

Armstrong’s goal was a real poacher’s finish, which came from an initial shot from former Boro academy graduate Robbie Tinkler.

The shot was saved, but spilled by Salford goalkeeper Max Crocombe – straight into the path of the clinical Armstrong, who accepted the gift and turned the ball in from close range.

The defeat meant an early exit from the cup for Gateshead, but they bounced back with a victory in the league.

Steve Watson’s side travelled to Maidstone United looking to continute their push for a shot at promotion.

A goal from Tinkler and a Luke Molyneux brace ensured the three points and a happy Christmas for seventh paced Gateshead.

Miller helps Bradford’s upturn in form with another key contribution…

George Miller has one goal and three assists in his last four games

Prior to this week, Bradford had only picked up two wins in a staggering sixteen games. Now they have two in succession.

After gaining a much-needed three points against Walsall last weekend, the Bantams defeated struggling Scunthorpe to give them some momentum going into the busy Christmas-New Year period.

George Miller has played a pivotal role in their upturn in form, as was demonstrated again in the game against the Iron.

It was Jack Payne who put Bradford ahead within the first ten minutes before Miller was brought down in the box just shy of the half hour mark.

Eoin Doyle stepped up to convert the spot kick and double the advantage.

That means Miller now had one goal and three assists in his last four games in all competitions – his best run of form since his move to Yorkshire in the summer.

It also takes Bradford out of the League One relegation zone at the expense of their weekend opponents.

On Miller, the Telegraph & Argus said: “If one City player currently sums up the improvements Hopkin has eked out of the rudderless rabble he picked up in September it’s the young striker. He looks fitter, stronger and more confident in his all-round game.”

Christmas clean sheet for Connor Ripley…

Connor Ripley in action for Accrington Stanley

Accrington Stanley were on the end of a 3-0 defeat to Southend on Saturday, but this week the scoreline flipped in their favour.

Ripley, starting again in between the sticks, kept his first clean sheet in eight games as Stanley put three past Plymouth Argyle.

John Coleman’s side had fallen off the promotion bandwagon in recent months, as their form dipped considerably.

But a strong performance and win at Home Park will do their confidence the world of good to remount their push for back-to-back promotions.

They currently sit tenth – eight points off sixth placed Barnsley.

Elsewhere around the grounds…

Aynsley Pears was in goal for Gateshead in their league victory over Maidstone United but was left out of the side that were defeated by Salford earlier in the week.

Tyrone O’Neill wasn’t involved for Hartlepool in their 1-1 draw at home to Havant & Waterlooville. – that’s because the youngster has returned to Boro following the end of his loan deal.

Nathan McGinley played 90 minutes for Forest Green Rovers as they defeated Crewe Alexandra 1-0 on Saturday.

Middlesbrough Minutes

β€’ Luke Armstrong β€“ 90 mins and goal vs. Salford, 66 mins vs. Maidstone
β€’ Aynsley Pears β€“ 90 mins vs. Maidstone
β€’ George Miller β€“ 78 mins and goal vs. Scunthorpe
β€’ Connor Ripley β€“ 90 mins, clean sheet vs. Plymouth
β€’ Nathan McGinley β€“ 90 mins, clean sheet vs. Crewe

Injured: Joe Fryer, Alex Pattison

Not involved: Enes Mahmutovic, Tyrone O’Neill

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