James Garner

Watch James Garner's stunning goal

Monday 10 May 2021 10:30

James Garner brought his productive loan spell at Nottingham Forest to an end, by scoring a sensational goal against Preston North End on Saturday.

The 20-year-old, who began his temporary spell at the City Ground in January, has been a big hit with the Forest fans and showed his quality again at the weekend.

Our central midfielder picked up the ball a full 30 yards out and took advantage of the space afforded him by the North End defenders to curl a delightful effort into the top-right corner, leaving goalkeeper Daniel Iversen rooted to the spot.

It was the fourth strike Garner has managed in 20 games with Forest, after goals against Derby, Cardiff and Queens Park Rangers, but this was arguably the best one yet and a fitting way to end a promising season in the second tier.

After 21 appearances for promotion-bound Watford in the first half of the campaign, James has flourished with the former European champions, helping them rise from 21st in the table to a comfortable final position of 17th, nine points clear of the relegation zone.

Garner’s superb goal was ultimately in vain as Tom Bayliss and Liam Lindsay helped Preston complete a second-half turnaround, but Forest manager Chris Hughton was full of praise for the midfielder, who has made seven appearances for United to date.

“James knows what we think of him. And Manchester United know what we think of him,” said Hughton. “That’s probably all I can say, because he is a Manchester United player.

“James and Manchester United will have the say on what happens to him next season. All I can say is we’ve been absolutely delighted with him.

“He’s come in and made an impact. Four goals from a midfield player in less than half a season is a wonderful return.”

Elsewhere in the Football League, the loan spells of Ethan Laird (Milton Keynes Dons) and Di’Shon Bernard (Salford) ended in disappointment.

Laird came off injured after just half an hour, as the Dons lost 3-0 at home to already relegated Rochdale.

"Hopefully for Ethan's and Manchester United's sake, he'll be okay. It typifies our season really,” said manager Russell Martin. “He has been brilliant, has grown so much but it ended like that and our season ended like that.”

Meanwhile, Bernard’s chance to star in the League Two play-offs ended, as Salford ultimately finished eighth in the division, just two points behind Tranmere in the final qualification spot.

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Our young defender didn’t feature in the Ammies’ 3-0 victory over Leyton Orient, after being shown a red card during last week’s defeat to Colchester.

Things were a little brighter on the continent for our loan players, as Diogo Dalot featured briefly in AC Milan’s 3-0 win over Juventus, which gives the Rossoneri a huge boost in their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Facundo Pellistri was involved as a substitute for Alaves and the Spanish side scored a late goal to secure a 2-2 draw which moves them two points clear of the relegation zone in La Liga, with three games to play.