Loan watch: Thrills and spills in the Championship

Omar Rekik in action for Wigan Athletic

Five of our loanees experienced the thrills and spills of Championship football over the weekend, as the battle for promotion and relegation intensifies.

At the foot of the table, Omar Rekik played the full 90 minutes to help Wigan Athletic clinch a precious 1-0 win against fellow strugglers QPR, and although the win wasn’t enough to move them off bottom spot, it brings Wigan back into contention to avoid the drop. 

The Latics are now just one point behind Blackpool, who introduced Charlie Patino at half-time of their 3-1 Lancashire derby defeat against Preston North End, which leaves the Seasiders four points from safety, while Auston Trusty helped Birmingham City to their third win from their last four games to lift them up to 16th and virtually secure their spot in the division for next term.

The race for promotion saw Norwich City lose 1-0 to second-placed Sheffield United to extend the Canaries’ winless run to four games. Marquinhos played the full 90 minutes at Carrow Road, as his team slipped to seventh, level on points with Brooke Norton-Cuffy’s Coventry City, with the defender playing the final 18 minutes of the Sky Blues’ 4-0 home defeat to Stoke City, ending their nine-game unbeaten run.

The battle to avoid demotion to the Championship is also hotly contested, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles couldn’t help Southampton get something from their 1-0 loss to West Ham United on Sunday. Ainsley came on in the 71st minute for his 20th appearance for the Saints, but that result leaves them bottom of the Premier League table, three points from safety.

Meanwhile, Cedric played the final eight minutes of Fulham’s 2-1 defeat at battling Bournemouth, but Sambi Lokonga’s Crystal Palace clinched a huge last-minute win in a basement battle against Leicester City, but our man was named as an unused substitute by returning Eagles boss Roy Hodgson.

Further down the English pyramid Mazeed Ogungbo netted his first professional goal, however it was a mere consolation as Crawley Town were thrashed 4-1 by Mansfield Town, leaving the Red Devils just two points above the League Two drop zone.

In France, Nuno Tavares played the full 90 minutes as Marseille were held to a 1-1 draw against Montpellier, as they closed the gap between them and league leaders PSG to six points after the table-toppers lost against Lyon. However, Lens have now leapfrogged Tavares’ team into second spot as the Ligue 1 title race heats up.

Folarin Balogun’s Reims are up to seventh after a 3-0 win at Nantes, with our striker laying on an assist during the game before being taken off 12 minutes from time with the points in the bag. They jumped Nice in the standings, who drew 1-1 with Angers where Nicolas Pepe played the entirety of the game.

Elsewhere across Europe, Arthur Okonkwo made it seven wins from eight for Sturm Graz as they beat Rapid Vienna 3-1 to move within three points of leaders Red Bull Salzburg, but Pablo Mari couldn’t prevent Monza from falling to a 2-0 loss against high-flying Lazio, while in Turkey Alex Runarsson was beaten twice in the final six minutes as Alanyaspor saw a win slip away in their 2-2 draw against Giresunspor.

Having netted in his previous game against Heracles, Nikolaj Moller couldn’t find the target again despite playing the full 90 minutes against Willem II, which leaves Den Bosch 18th in the Eerste Divisie table but 10 points clear of relegation, and Ovie Ejeheri played in SJK Seinajoki’s 2-2 friendly draw Kuopion Palloseura as both team gear up for the start of the 2-23 Finnish league season this week.

Up in Scotland, Alex Kirk may have made his final appearance for Ayr United after sustaining an ankle ligament injury last month, which looks to end his involvement this campaign.

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