Loan watch: Kovar's EFL award
Matej Kovar made it three clean sheets in a week as he helped Burton Albion to gain a point at Accrington Stanley on Friday.
The Czech Republic youth international made his first start for the Brewers only last Saturday in a 0-0 home draw against Plymouth Argyle but has since played twice more. Between the Plymouth and Accrington stalemates, he thwarted Wigan Athletic, when even free-scoring ex-Red Will Keane couldn’t beat him.
Having faced Keane in midweek, Kovar then came up against another former Red, Ethan Hamilton, who was responsible for six shots at the Albion goal for Accrington Stanley. None of them could beat Kovar, who also made significant stops from Colby Bishop, Jay Rich-Baghuelou, Sean McConville and, in injury time, Jack Nolan.
Kovar joined Burton Albion in January on loan, signed as a back-up initially to Ben Garratt. The League One club’s manager Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink explained last week how Kovar has worked his way into the starting line-up.
“Ben has been absolutely brilliant and is still my number one,” Hasselbaink said.
“I just wanted to see Matej in goal, to see how he would cope and to change things and give Ben a break. Sometimes you need to do that.”
Matej has certainly made the right impression so far, being named Man of the Match against Wigan Athletic and then in the EFL Team of the Week. He’ll be looking to make it four clean sheets from four when his side take on Rotherham on Tuesday night (19:45 BST).
In the Championship, attacking right-back Ethan Laird made his first start for AFC Bournemouth, the club he joined in January after a successful spell at Swansea City, who play in the same division.
Injury had initially kept Ethan out of action, but he’s worked hard to earn a chance in the promotion-chasing Cherries side. Although Scott Parker’s side drew 0-0, Laird received praise for his attacking output.
"I thought he did very well,” Parker told the Daily Echo.
“I was impressed with him to be fair. Over the last three or four weeks I feel like he’s probably come out the other side of where he was. I decided to go with Ethan today and I thought he defended very well. Also attacking wise he gives us a real threat as well, so I was pleased for him. It was very pleasing that he’s got through 90 as well, so that was good."
Another full-back, Reece Devine, returned from injury last week, and he made a second consecutive start for Walsall, helping the Saddlers to a 1-0 win over Carlisle United.
Back in the Championship, James Garner’s Nottingham Forest suffered a blow in their hopes of automatic promotion as they were beaten 1-0 by Luton Town at Kenilworth Road. That result means Luton (4th) are one point ahead of Forest (5th), but the latter side have two games in hand.
Ethan Galbraith came off the bench for Doncaster Rovers as the struggling League One side were beaten 2-1 by Bolton Wanderers.