Loan Watch – Stubbs impresses on debut, Pears proves pivotal in win

Sam Stubbs received praise from his new fans and manager following an impressive debut for League Two side Notts County.

The 20-year-old only signed for the Magpies on Thursday but was tasked with slotting straight into the back four as the league’s bottom side faced title-chasing Lincoln City.

Manager Neal Ardley credited Stubbs, son of former Everton defender Alan, as being a player with qualities beyond his tender years.

He told the Nottingham Post: “The particular thing with Sam Stubbs is that he is an unbelievable talker.

“He talks like a 25 and 26-year-old and has been taught a lot by the old man. He’s a very good defender and athletic.  And I hope he can come in help command the back four.”

The game against Lincoln was Stubbs’ Notts County debut – and he didn’t look an inch out of place.

Stubbs made his Notts County debut this weekend

The Scouser was strong, composed and commanding – the Post give his display and 8 out of 10, saying: “A fine debut from the on-loan Middlesbrough defender who showed maturity way beyond his years against one of the most dangerous attacks in the league.”

He did give away a penalty in the 86th minute – but to his and County’s relief, it was put wide by Lincoln striker John Akinde as the score finished one apiece. 

After the game, Ardley reiterated his praise for Stubbs, claiming the debutant was ‘great’ alongside Brighton loanee Ben Barclay.

Fans were also impressed with the youngster’s display. Here are a few Twitter reactions to his performance.

Aynsley Pears was celebrating a very first Gateshead win over Dover this weekend – and he played a crucial part in it.

They found themselves a goal down within 8 minutes but it could have been much worse for the Heed, who were looking for their first win under new manager Ben Clark, had it not been for Pears.

The 20-year-old prevented Mitch Brundle volleying home to make it 2-0 just minutes after the opener.

He was then on hand to deny Brundle again before half-time and kept out Bobby Joe-Taylor’s effort before former Newcastle defender Mike Williamson levelled it up with 10 minutes to go.

Greg Olley then struck late on to seal a monumental victory for the promotion chasing National League outfit – a perfect three points to take back to the North-East just the small matter of 352 miles away.

Pears was crucial to Gateshead’s win over Dover

Stephen Walker made a late loan switch to MK Dons on Thursday – following in the footsteps of Boro teammate Marcus Tavernier who spent the latter half of last season at Stadium MK.

Paul Tisdale was pleased with the signing of the highly-rated attacker, telling the club’s website: “Stephen is a young, talented attacking player.

“We’ve spoken in-depth with Middlesbrough about him and they are more than happy for us to take him on loan so he can continue his development with us.

“We are looking for some more energy and drive in our front line and Stephen will do that. I think he will be a very exciting addition to our squad for the remainder of the season.”

The 18-year-old didn’t start the game away to Exeter City, but was a 76th minute substitute as the Dons looked to get back into the game having found themselves 3-1 down.

Unfortunately, they were unable to find that elusive goal to put pressure on the hosts at the end and Walker’s debut ended in defeat.

Walker trained with MK Dons on Friday

Martin Braithwaite’s Leganes side face relegation rivals Rayo Vallecano on Monday night (8pm UK time). They’ll be looking to pull away from La Liga’s bottom three as they currently sit 17th, level on points with their next opponents.

The winter weather meant three games were postponed this weekend. Hayden Coulson’s Cambridge, Ben Liddle’s Forest Green Rovers and Luke Armstrong’s Accrington Stanley were among the sides without a fixture.

Marvin Johnson was an unused substitute as Sheffield United kept pressure on the Championship’s top two with a 2-0 win over Bolton on Saturday. 

Middlesbrough Minutes:

• Aynsley Pears – 90 mins vs. Dover Athletic
Sam Stubbs – 90 mins vs. Lincoln City
• Stephen Walker – 14 mins vs. Exeter

Not involved: Marvin Johnson (unused sub), Luke Armstrong, Hayden Coulson,  Ben Liddle (game postponed), Joe Fryer, Alex Pattison (injured)

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