Loan Watch: Fernandez assists in derby win
Manchester United’s Alvaro Fernandez helped Preston North End close the gap to the Championship play-off spots to five points over the weekend, contributing an assist as the Lilywhites defeated local rivals Blackpool 3-1 at Deepdale.
The Spanish wing-back started the clash with the Tangerines and played 83 minutes before being replaced by fellow United Academy graduate Robbie Brady, but the hosts were cruising to victory by that point with a three-goal lead.
Fernandez recorded an assist before he was substituted, setting up Tom Cannon in the 51st minute for PNE’s third of the game after Brad Potts and Ben Whiteman had put the hosts two goals up in the first half.
Blackpool grabbed a late consolation through Jerry Yates, but it was the hosts who ran out winners, moving up to 10th in the process.
Ethan Laird returned from a hamstring injury on Saturday to make his first appearance since mid-February for Queens Park Rangers, but they, unfortunately, suffered an away defeat at Wigan Athletic.
Laird lasted 78 minutes in his first match back, before being replaced by Aaron Drewe for the latter stages.
Also in the second tier, Amad came on in the 64th minute for Sunderland on Friday, after returning soon beforehand from international duty, as the Black Cats took a point away at runaway league leaders Burnley at Turf Moor. Hannibal did not come on, though, as Birmingham City beat Blackburn Rovers 1-0.
Following Forest Green Rovers’ important win over Sheffield Wednesday last week, Duncan Ferguson’s side were narrowly beaten 1-0 away to Portsmouth. Charlie Savage played the full 90 minutes for Rovers, who could no overturn Owen Dale’s 51st-minute opener at Fratton Park. Di'Shon Bernard was an unused sub for Pompey.
It was a more positive weekend for Shola Shoretire’s loan club Bolton Wanderers, who ran out 4-0 victors over Plymouth in the final of the Papa Johns Trophy at Wembley.
Shola was unfortunately not eligible to play in this one, due to previously appearing for United’s Under-21s in the competition, but this win will surely boost the belief in a squad that is seeking to get promoted from League One this season and currently occupy fifth place in the table.
Elsewhere in English football, Ethan Galbraith played the full match as Salford City earned a 1-1 draw away to local rivals Stockport County, while Charlie McNeill started in Newport County’s 0-0 stalemate at Colchester United.
Fellow young Reds Joe Hugill and Maximilian Oyedele both featured in Altrincham’s dramatic FA trophy semi-final against Halifax Town.
The Robins led from the 44th minute thanks to Jordan Hulme’s opener, but in the fifth minute of added time, Millenic Alli levelled for the visitors. With the match still tied following extra time, Halifax emerged 3-2 winners in the penalty shootout, to reach the final at Wembley.
Concluding our loan round-up, Will Fish played 90 minutes in Hibernian’s 3-1 loss to Motherwell, Alex Telles came on as a late substitute in Sevilla’s 2-0 win away at Cadiz and Matej Kovar’s Sparta Prague triumphed again, beating Brno 3-1 to keep pace with Czech First League leaders Slavia Prague.
Eric Bailly did not get off the bench in Marseille's 1-1 home draw with Montpellier.