Three West Ham United loanees took to the field for their respective clubs this weekend, with forward Grady Diangana on the scoresheet for his table-topping West Bromwich Albion side.
The Baggies were in action at cross-city rivals Birmingham City in Saturday’s Championship lunch-time kick-off, knowing a win would maintain pressure on leading challengers Leeds United.
They got off to a difficult start, however, falling behind after just three minutes when Lukas Jutkiewicz headed home Maxime Colin’s pinpoint delivery from close range.
Yet it didn’t take long for Diangana, recalled to Slaven Bilic’s starting eleven for the derby, to make an impact of his own, peeling away to the back post and turning in Matt Phillips’ driven cross from merely yards out seven minutes later.
The winger continued to look a lively presence in an end-to-end first half but, five minutes from half-time, seemingly sustained a hamstring injury which prompted his substitution for Kyle Edwards.
While the enforced change seemed to disrupt the Baggies’ flow – Birmingham went ahead moments into the second half when Harlee Dean headed home – it was another switch which gave them victory, striker Charlie Austin scoring twice in a late 20-minute cameo to seal a 3-2 thriller at St Andrew’s.
The win, coupled with Leeds’ later 3-3 draw with Cardiff, sees West Brom return to the Championship summit, but the Baggies will be hoping Diangana shakes off his affliction in time for the numerous festive fixtures still to come.
Also playing his part in a Championship thriller was striker Jordan Hugill, who started for Queen’s Park Rangers away to Barnsley.
The goals were well and truly flowing at Oakwell on a dramatic afternoon, the team in red taking the lead after seven minutes through Conor Chaplin’s sweeping finish.
Five minutes later, 27-year-old striker Hugill latched onto a loose through ball by Ryan Manning and, from a tricky angle, bent a sweet strike onto the right-hand post – Luke Amos perfectly positioned to convert into an empty net for the R’s.
Barnsley went on to take the game by the scruff of the neck, Chaplin completing a hat-trick early in the second half while QPR offered little offensively, but a see-saw match did see Hugill’s side draw as close as 3-2 down before the game ultimately finished 5-3 to the home team.
Finally, in League One, Nathan Trott’s AFC Wimbledon secured their seventh point from the last nine available as they mounted a 2-1 comeback at home to Doncaster Rovers.
England U21 goalkeeper Trott was called into action inside the very first minute to deny Rovers’ top scorer Kieran Sadlier, before minutes later springing to his left to tip Ben Whiteman’s effort wide of the post.
He later denied Rakish Bingham’s excellent strike in a busy opening period for the Hammers loanee, but was beaten in the 12th minute when Kwame Thomas headed home at the back post from a corner.
Trott stopped Doncaster from putting the game to bed before half-time when he saved Ben Sheaf’s one-on-one finish, and his succession of saves proved crucial in the second period after a penalty from Marcus Forss and a counter-attack finished off by Callum Reilly.
That win could prove the perfect fillip for the Dons ahead of their festive programme, as they now sit three points clear of the relegation places in 19th; a trip to 20th-placed Tranmere is up next.