We look at the loan action for our players over the last couple of days, as several enjoyed a successful conclusion to their Championship campaigns on a dramatic last day in England’s second tier.
The biggest excitement of that thrilling climax on Wednesday evening came at the Madejski Stadium, where there were three of our loanees in action. Matt Miazga returned to the Reading starting line-up as they hosted a Swansea City side featuring Marc Guehi and Conor Gallagher.
The Swans needed to win and hope for a favour elsewhere to secure the final place in the promotion play-offs. While before kick-off their eyes were on Cardiff City’s match against Hull City, in the end it was Nottingham Forest’s 4-1 defeat to Stoke City which gave them a chance, meaning victory by three goals over Reading would put them in the top six on goal difference.
Things looked promising for Swansea when they took the lead and Reading were reduced to 10 men, but they then conceded a penalty to go in at the break tied 1-1. However, in an incredible second half, just as Forest were falling into trouble against Stoke, Swansea went ahead in Reading.
Even when Swansea went 3-1 up with six minutes left of the season it wasn’t enough, until Stoke scored a fourth in injury time and Gallagher’s cross allowed Wayne Routledge to do the same for the Swans. That mean they had edged ahead of Forest by a single goal.
Swansea now face Brentford in the Championship play-off semi-finals on 26 and 29 July, with Sunday’s first leg at home.
There was plenty of drama at the other end of the Championship table too. Trevoh Chalobah and Huddersfield Town had already learned they were safe from relegation thanks to other results since their last match on Friday and finished two points clear despite a 4-1 defeat to Millwall.
For our other players involved in that intense scrap at the bottom of the Championship, it proved to be a nail-biting experience, as both Izzy Brown and Jake Clarke-Salter were ruled out of the crucial fixtures after failing in their bids to recover from injury in time to help their teams.
Birmingham had struggled during Clarke-Salter’s absence and their long winless run continued with a 3-1 loss to Derby County, although Derby scored twice in the last three minutes, by which time Birmingham effectively knew they were safe regardless of the score due to results elsewhere.
There was more work for Luton Town to do without Brown, though, as they started the day needing a win and other results to go in their favour to stay in the Championship for another season. Despite going a goal down to Blackburn Rovers, the Hatters recovered to win 3-2 and overtake Charlton Athletic, meaning Brown and former Chelsea striker Mick Harford, now on the staff at Luton, were able to celebrate at the final whistle.
There was also mid-week action in Italy, where Davide Zappacosta came on at half-time for Roma as they defeated already-relegated SPAL 6-1 to keep hold of fifth place in the Serie A table, and automatic qualification for the Europa League group stage, with three matches remaining. Victor Moses also came off the bench for Inter Milan in their 0-0 draw with Fiorentina, which left them in third, seven points behind leaders Juventus.