After another exhaustive midweek and weekend programme of football, the season has come to an end for many of the prospects, but for a select few there’s still everything to play for.
Last midweek saw a break for all football league teams ahead of the final weekend of the league season, but it was the last round of Premier League Reserve fixtures. Aston Villa sealed the South title with a 2-0 win over West Brom, where Nathan Delfouneso was impressive and created the opening goal, whilst Ciaran Clark and Nathan Baker were rock solid at the back. The win meant Tottenham couldn’t steal the crown at the last minute, but John Bostock and teammates crashed to a 3-0 defeat at Chelsea where Jeffrey Bruma, Patrick van Aanholt, and Jacob Mellis were impressive. Mellis was the subject of a crude challenge from Jake Livermore which earned the Tottenham defender a red card. Miroslav Stoch missed the game as part of the first team subs bench which earned a 0-0 draw away to Barcelona in the Champions League Semi Finals.
In the Northern section, Sunderland took the title last week, but couldn’t finish the season with a victory, falling 2-0 to Manchester United. Ben Amos kept a clean sheet, and Matthew James scored an injury-time screamer for the second week running. On the downside, Fábio Da Silva and Rodrigo Possebon left the game injured, but neither appeared to be serious. Rivals Manchester City won 3-1 against Everton with Vladimir Weiss and Ben Mee amongst an experienced selection which had too much for Everton’s youthful outfit, for whom Jose Baxter scored a heavily deflected effort to open the scoring early in the second half.
A season to forget for outgoing Champions Liverpool was ended on a surprisingly high note with a 5-1 win over Newcastle just two days after their Liverpool Senior Cup win over Waterloo Dock. Mikel San Jose and Dani Pacheco both featured in the first game before starring in the second, with San Jose scoring against the Magpies, followed by a brace from compatriot Pacheco late on, having entered the game as a 65th minute substitute. Gerardo Bruna was chief creator, notching two assists and was only denied a goal himself by the woodwork from a sublime free-kick. Elsewhere, Richie Smallwood and Jason Steele ended up on the wrong side of a 3-2 reverse to Hull City for Middlesbrough.
Saturday saw the last round of academy fixtures, where Tottenham prepared for the national semi-finals with a 4-1 victory over West Ham United, captained by Dean Parrett. Man City also prepared for the same stage with a 3-1 dismissal of Leeds, where Robbie Mak’s experience in a young side showed, scoring twice, including a quite sublime solo goal in the second half. Jacob Mellis dropped back down to Under-18 level for Chelsea’s last game of the season, playing a second half in the Blues’ 2-0 loss to Watford, and Kyle Bartley did the same for Arsenal against Cardiff, although he wasn’t pressed into playing.
In Premier League action, Federico Macheda earned his first league start for Man Utd away to Middlesbrough, in a much rotated team between Champions League Semi Finals. He had a frustrating 55 minutes before being replaced by Carlos Tevez, and was booked for persistent fouling on a day where he didn’t get into the game at all. Rafael Da Silva got a twelve-minute run-out towards the end of the game. At Sunderland the day after, Everton’s Jack Rodwell got 17 minutes in a comfortable win for the Toffees which puts the Black Cats into serious relegation bother, and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas was part of a very young Arsenal subs bench away to Portsmouth, a game they won 3-0.
The majority of the weekend’s attention, however, was on the last weekend of the Football League season. The prospects playing in the Championship had little to play for, with Jake Thomson once more missing for already-relegated Southampton as they crashed 3-1 at Nottingham Forest. Derby’s Barry Bannan was on the wrong side of the same scoreline at Watford in a defeat which saw the Rams finish below the Hornets. Pre-match comments from Derby manager Nigel Clough indicated their delight with Bannan’s performances, and the hope that he could return on loan next season.
League One saw Jordan Spence’s fantastic season on loan at Leyton Orient come to an end with a 1-1 draw at home to Huddersfield, and he will hope to return to West Ham for the end of their season and perhaps make a late appearance for Gianfranco Zola’s team ahead of next season. Yeovil loanee Jonathan Obika now returns to Tottenham having scored the goals to keep the Glovers up, but he didn’t finish with a bang, losing 2-0 at home to Colchester. Henri Lansbury was missing injured for Scunthorpe as Cliff Byrne scored a desperate last minute equaliser to seal the Iron’s place in the Playoffs, where Lansbury will hope to recover from a bad foot injury in time to play a part in a potential second visit to Wembley this season.
To finish on miscellaneous news, Sergio Tejera’s season with Mallorca B finished last weekend against Real Oviedo in the Tercera division. Tejera had been scoring freely in recent weeks, with a brace against CD Manacor, before being sent off in a wild game where two of his teammates were also dismissed. Finally, Jack Wilshere, Jose Baxter and John Bostock will kick off their UEFA European Under-17 Championships Finals on Wednesday, a tournament covered in depth on this blog. Keep a look out for a preview on Tuesday.