Loan watch: 18 and counting for Balogun

Folarin Balogun celebrates scoring for Reims

Folarin Balogun netted his 18th Ligue 1 goal of the season by converting a last-minute penalty to help Reims gain a draw against Brest on Sunday.

The England under-21 international kept his cool to tuck the ball home from 12 yards to keep his team’s faint hopes of reaching the Europa Conference League alive, and move him to within one goal of the top of the Golden Boot standings.

Folarin has also moved level with Glenn Hoddle as the top-scoring Englishman in a French league season with 18 goals, which the former England man netted in the 1988/89 campaign under Arsene Wenger at Monaco.

Also in the division, Nuno Tavares played all of Marseille’s goalless draw at Lorient to remain in the third and final Champions League spot as their title hopes continue to fade, as Nicolas Pepe’s Nice couldn’t prevent leaders PSG winning 2-0, with our forward playing the whole game on Saturday.

There was a winning start to the Finnish league campaign for Ovie Ejeheri, who played between the posts during their 2-1 win over FC Haka, however fellow shot-stopper Arthur Okonkwo saw his Sturm Graz side miss out on the chance to cut Red Bull Salzberg’s lead at the top of the Austrian Bundesliga table after they lost 2-1 LASK Linz.

Elsewhere in Europea, Pablo Mari’s Monza conceded in the last minute to drop two points in their 2-2 draw against Udinese, while Nikolaj Moller played all 90 minutes of Den Bosch’s 2-0 defeat to NAC Breda.

Back on these shores, Ainsley Maitland-Niles had a chance to try and boost his parent club’s title chances when Southampton hosted Manchester City on Saturday but the visitors collected a 4-1 triumph over Ainsley’s Saints side, who remain bottom of the table.

Also in Premier League action, Cedric Soares was handed his first start as a Fulham player, and featured for 68 minutes of their 1-0 defeat to West Ham United, while Sambi Lokonga was an unused sub in Crystal Palace’s emphatic 5-1 win at Leeds United.

In the Championship, Charlie Patino will be playing under his third manager of the campaign after Mick McCarthy departed the struggling Tangerines following their 3-1 defeat to Cardiff City on Friday. Charlie played the first 65 minutes of that game, but was an unused sub in their 3-1 loss to Luton Town on Monday.

In a big game in the race for the Championship play-offs, Marquinhos started and finished Norwich City’s 2-0 win at Blackburn Rovers to pull them to within touching distance of the top six, but a 0-0 draw against Rotherham United four days later leaves them in eighth spot, with our Brazilian getting 82 minutes against the Millers.

Norwich are one place above Coventry City, whom Brooke Norton-Cuffy featured for 71 minutes of a 0-0 draw at Swansea City, and the full 90 on Monday as they overturned a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Watford.

Auston Trusty helped Birmingham City to successive draws against Reading and Stoke City, while Omar Rekik couldn’t prevent Wigan Athletic losing 1-0 to promotion-chasing Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, before remaining on their bench for their subsequent loss to Swansea as the Latics stay bottom of the table.

Further down the Football League, Nathan Butler-Oyedeji’s Accrington Stanley won 3-0 at home to Port Vale to help breathe life into their survival bid in League One, but their defeat by the same scoreline at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday on Monday leaves them two points shy of safety. Nathan played 55 minutes at Hillsborough against the league leaders.

In League Two, Mazeed Ogungbo played his part in guiding Crawley Town to a 0-0 draw against Bradford City, however after a 4-0 loss at Barrow four days later when Mazeed played the full game, they have dropped into the relegation zone after Taylor Foran’s Hartlepool United enjoyed a great Easter weekend.

The Pools picked up a huge 4-1 win away to Grimsby Town when the Young Gunner appeared at half-time to help his side roar to victory with three second-half goals, before getting another point via a 1-1 draw against Stevenage, however Taylor was withdrawn after just 36 minutes.

Tom Smith made his Football League debut when he was named in Colchester United’s line-up for their game against Crewe Alexandra on Monday, and it was a day to remember for the young keeper as he kept a clean sheet in a 4-0 success to help the U’s climb into 19th spot.

Meanwhile, Ryan Alebiousu made his first Kilmarnock appearance for four weeks as a half-time substitute in their 2-0 loss at Aberdeen, which leaves them just a point above the relegation play-off place in the Scottish Premiership.

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