Loan Watch – Cup joy for Pears & Armstrong, Coulson’s loan spell cut short

Normal service resumed up and down the leagues this weekend and Boro’s loan contingent were out to impress once more following the international break.

Only five loanees featured, with Connor Ripley suspended, Enes Mahmutovic left outand Hayden Coulson recalled.

Here’s the full lowdown on the action, starting with the news of Coulson’s return:

Coulson’s loan spell cut short…

Hayden Coulson had his loan spell at struggling St. Mirren cut short this week after 11 appearances for the Scottish side.

The news came as a surprise to many Buddies fans, who were intrigued to see the sprouting potential of the young defender.

For new boss Oran Kearney though, Coulson’s departure was part of what he feels is a much-needed squad trimming. He told the Daily Record:

“At this point in time, the squad still is big of number. The two players made the decision to move on this week. We wish them all the best, sadly it just wasn’t the right time for them here but that’s football.

Coulson started his spell in Scotland with great aplomb, netting against Dumbarton in the Betfred Cup and putting in some promising displays at the start of the Scottish Premiership season.

But St. Mirren’s form soon turned sour. One hammering often lead to another and their dire winless run resulted in the departure of manager Alan Stubbs – who brought Coulson to the club in the summer.

Even following Stubbs’ sacking, St. Mirren have failed to gather any sort of momentum, losing four out of their last five games in the league.

Elsewhere around the leagues…

Luke Armstrong was back after six weeks out injured this weekend. The striker returned to the pitch for the first time since late September, playing half an hour in the Heed’s 4-0 victory away to Dunston UTS in the FA Cup.

He almost marked his return with a goal, out-muscling his marker in the penalty area and rising highest to meet a Greg Olley corner, but the ball flashed just over the crossbar.

Aynsley Pears was in goal for that game, and was the happy recipient of yet another clean sheet.

Gateshead’s defence has hit a real purple patch of late, as that’s now a third successive shut-out. For Pears, Saturday’s result marked his sixth clean sheet of the season so far.

In League One, George Miller was on the receiving end of another unwanted defeat. He started and played the full 90 minutes as the Bantams lost 2-0 to Rochdale.

Bradford weren’t without their chances though – most of them coming through the usually clinical Miller, but he failed to convert any of them on what was a mildly frustrating afternoon.

The 20-year-old saw one shot blocked on the line on the eve of half-time after the ball ricocheted into his path from a corner. His next chance – just before Rochdale struck their opening goal – came from a good touch and quickness of feet following a strong header on from Eoin Doyle. His shot, however, was tipped onto the roof of the net by Dale keeper Brendan Moore.

Miller then spurned a glorious chance to equalise in the 88th minute, having been played through on goal by Jack Payne, but Moore was again alert and equal to the shot, coming quickly off his line to block.

Down a league and Alex Pattison was aiming to help Yeovil end their winless run and give them their first victory since the 6-0 demolition of Notts County in mid-September.

But it wasn’t to be for the Glovers, and although they weren’t defeated by play-off chasing Tranmere Rovers, the goalless draw means their wait for another victory will go on into its seventh game.

There was no involvement for Enes Mahmutovic though- the Luxembourger was an unused substitute in the draw.

He’s so far only featured twice for the League Two side since joining them on loan in August, although his start to life at Huish Park was shelved due to his international commitments with Luxembourg.

Nathan McGinley started against Cheltenham on Saturday, as Forest Green Rovers looked to get their form back on track after three games without a win.

He was at the heart of their defence once again, but only played one half as he was replaced by Gavin Gunning in a like-for-like swap at the break.

Marvin Johnson was an unused substitute for Sheffield United, who were looking to reclaim top spot from Boro following their win over rivals Sheffield Wednesday on Friday night.

It wasn’t to be for the Blades though, as they were defeated 2-1 by Frank Lampard’s Derby County in the tea-time kick-off.

Middlesbrough Minutes:

• Armstrong – 30 minutes vs. Dunston UTS
• Pears – 90 minutes, clean sheet vs. Dunston UTS
• Coulson – N/A
• Fryer – N/A (injured)
• Miller – 90 minutes vs. Rochdale
• Pattison – 90 minutes vs. Tranmere
• Ripley – N/A (suspended)
• McGinley – 45 minutes vs. Cheltenham
• Johnson – Unused sub vs. Derby
• Mahmutovic – Unused sub vs. Tranmere

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