Loan Watch – Keepers prove pivotal again as Ripley returns & Gateshead march on

There were highs and lows for Boro’s loanees this week, from a fourth consecutive clean sheet to an unfortunate dismissal.

All but Enes Mahmutovic, Marvin Johnson and the injured Joe Fryer featured.

We’ll start with the in-form Gateshead duo of Aynsley Pears and Luke Armstrong, who were looking to build on the Heed’s good form in recent weeks.

Gateshead on the up…

Aynsley Pears has been enjoying his football for Gateshead of late. The National League side are scoring goals, winning, and most importantly for a goalie, keeping clean sheets.

They faced a stern test against in-form Aldershot Town, who had won their last three matches before the trip up North.

But as games go, it was a fairly routine victory for the Heed. Goals from Greg Olley and Scott Boden gave them a two goal cushion inside the first 33 minutes.

Pears was then called into action to produce an excellent save, tipping a shot from Shots midfielder Jake Gallagher around the post.

Luke Armstrong was then introduced from the bench on 64 minutes – and it didn’t take him long to get in amongst the action.

He received the ball in the box, held off Aldershot defender George Fowler, and laid the ball to Tom White to seal the victory with 13 minutes to go.

That’s now Pears’s fourth successive clean sheet.

As for Armstrong, it’s another step towards full match fitness and if ever there was a ‘perfect’ time to make a comeback from injury, it’s now.

Elsewhere around the leagues…

In League One, George Miller epitomised what has been a  horrendous season for struggling Bradford City.

Rooted to the bottom of the table, leaking goals for fun and unable to win, Bradford hosted an in-form Coventry City side at Valley Parade.

Understandably, the odds were very much stacked against them – and it soon became clear why. Two goals within the first 11 minutes for the visitors had the Bantams staring down the barrel at yet another defeat.

Defender Anthony O’Connor managed to claw a goal back to make it 2-1, but the promise of a comeback quickly imploded.

2-1 soon turned to 4-1 and although O’Connor scored again, it was a mere consolation rather than a late bout of optimism.

Ten minutes later and Miller was off; he was given his second yellow card for handing the ball in the net, such is the desperation of Bradford’s current predicament.

In League Two, Alex Pattison played 90 minutes for Yeovil as they faced Crewe Alexandra on Tuesday night.

The result was somewhat of a predicable one: a draw. It was the Glovers’ third in four games.

There was to be better luck in the following game against Carlisle though, as it heralded a first win in eight and ended their Brunton Park hoodoo in the meantime.

For Pattison though, it was largely an afternoon to forget. He was forced off just 29 minutes in with an injury.

His Boro teammate Enes Mahmutovic was on the bench for both games, but didn’t feature in either.

In League Two, Nathan McGinley was dropped to the bench for the visit of Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday night. In in his place was former Derby academy graduate Farrend Rawson.

Despite McGinley’s absence, it was a good night’s work for Rovers. They took a two-goal lead into the latter stages of the match but it wasn’t without a late scare.

Tranmere pulled a goal back five minutes from the end but Tahvon Campbell made sure of the victory deep into stoppage time. The game ended 3-1.

McGinley was brought back into the starting eleven by manager Mark Cooper for the trip to high-flying Exeter and the change in defence didn’t deter the play-off hopefuls from picking up their second win of the week.

Goals from Reece Brown and Liam Shephard but them on their way. Exeter’s Aaron Martin pulled a goal back late on, but Rovers held onto an impressive three points against a team in the top three.

Connor Ripley returned between the sticks for Accrington Stanley this week following his three-match suspension for what can only be described as a Connor McGregor-esque high boot.

Stanley were coming into their game against Portsmouth off the back of a 4-1 defeat to Luton Town just a few days beforehand.

Pompey, on the other hand, were top of the League One table and looking to extend the gap to Peterborough to three points. However, Ripley proved hard to beat.

The 25-year-old kept the visitors at bay in the first half, pulling off a string of typically impressive saves. The first to deny Jamal Lowe from a tight angle, before producing a diving stop to keep out Gareth Evans and then pushing a Ronan Curtis strike around the post.

Those saves proved to be pivotal for Stanley, who gradually grew in confidence and could have led before half time had Billy Kee converted his penalty after being brought down in the six-yard box.

The league leaders did take the lead just after the hour mark, but John Coleman’s side were level almost immediately to as the spoils were shared at the Wham Stadium.

Marvin Johnson didn’t feature for table-topping Sheffield United this week. He was on the bench for their games against Stoke City and Wigan Athletic, but wasn’t called upon.

Middlesbrough Minutes:

• Armstrong – 26 minutes, assist vs. Dunston UTS
• Pears – 90 minutes, clean sheet vs. Aldershot
• Fryer – N/A (injured)
• Miller – 88 minutes, sent off vs. Coventry
• Pattison – 90 minutes vs. Crewe, 29 minutes vs. Carlisle
• Ripley – 90 minutes vs. Portsmouth
• McGinley – 90 minutes vs. Exeter
• Johnson – Unused sub vs. Stoke and Wigan
• Mahmutovic – Unused sub vs. Crewe and Carlisle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *