Loan Watch: Nathan Holland sparkles for Oxford United
Nathan Holland put in two excellent performances for Oxford United as one of four West Ham United loanees to feature for their respective clubs over the last week.
The 23-year-old, working his way back to fitness after a stop-start campaign at Club level last year, had been on a run of six games without a League One start before being named in Karl Robinson’s team for last Tuesday’s match against Accrington Stanley.
But the skilful winger soon set about making up for lost time with a dazzling first-half display – capped with a clinical brace – which set Oxford on their way to a 5-1 victory at Kassam Stadium.
It was Holland who opened the scoring midway through the first half, collecting the ball in midfield, turning his man, skipping past three challenges and slotting in a low right-footed finish which gave Accrington goalkeeper James Trafford little chance.
And just six minutes later, Holland was at it again, this time steering in a cross from Steve Seddon with his left foot with superb precision – his first league goals of the 2021/22 season.
Five minutes into the second half, and Holland had his first assist to match, a fine reverse pass into the path of Matty Taylor, who subsequently chipped Trafford.
Withdrawn after 64 minutes, Holland went on to see his team triumph 5-1, his contributions having more than earned a starting berth at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough on Saturday.
There, the winger completed his first full 90 minutes of the season, regularly threatening as the U’s snatched a 2-1 victory deep into injury time.
Although Holland did not add to his goal tally, the winger linked up well with Taylor and Anthony Forde in a pacey attacking triumvirate, and will hope to have done enough to hold off competition from second-half substitute and match-winner James Henry, whose instinctive finish on the turn won the three points after Callum Paterson had cancelled out Cameron Brannagan’s opener for Oxford.
In League Two, Joseph Anang made it back-to-back clean sheets for Stevenage as his team ended a run of nine games without a win in all competitions with a 2-0 victory over Hartlepool United at Lamex Stadium on Saturday.
The 21-year-old was in resolute form for the Boro and, while not being called upon too heavily, showed impressive handling amidst blustery conditions to complement Jamie Reid’s and Elliott List’s strikes either side of half-time, boosting his team up to 17th in the table.
Elsewhere in League One, Frederik Alves made just his second league appearance for the season – and fourth in all competitions – for Sunderland last Tuesday, as the Black Cats eased past Cheltenham in a 5-0 victory.
The Denmark U21 international had played his first full 90 minutes for Sunderland in the previous week in a 2-0 Carabao Cup win over Wigan Athletic, and featured for the final 35 minutes at the Stadium of Light in last Tuesday’s easy victory.
Alves was then an unused substitute for Sunderland in their 4-0 defeat away at Portsmouth on Saturday, a result which sees them slip back down to second – behind Wigan – at the top end of League One.
And in the Championship, Conor Coventry added two more senior appearances to his tally after helping Peterborough United hold promotion-chasing Bournemouth 0-0 as a second-half substitute at London Road Stadium in midweek, before starting the Posh’s 3-2 defeat at home to Bristol City on Saturday.
The Republic of Ireland U21s captain’s pinpoint long ball forward started the move which led to Sammie Szmodics curling Peterborough in front, but the Robins turned things around inside the first half through a Nathan Thompson own goal and a George Tanner strike.
After Szmodics equalised, Bristol City won it late on through Chris Martin’s super strike, with Coventry having been substituted on 58 minutes by manager Darren Ferguson.
And in France's Ligue 2, Nathan Trott was an unused substitute for AS Nancy in their 1-1 draw away to high-flying Paris FC – a creditable result, but one which keeps the goalkeeper’s adopted club winless after eleven games and bottom of the table.