A look ahead to the Easter weekend and the season’s remainderAs we enter the 2015/16 run-in, plenty of Reading loanees at other clubs have a lot to play for in the closing weeks of the season.
We aren’t in action this weekend because of the international break, but plenty of our boys that are spending temporary spells in lower divisions in England have a lot to fight for – including two fixtures over a busy Easter weekend! We round up our lads’ prospects in the closing months…
Dominic Samuel: Gillingham (4th in League 1)
The Gills’ charge for automatic promotion to the Championship has cooled a little bit in recent weeks; the Kent side have registered just one win in the last six outings, leaving them five points adrift of second-placed Wigan Athletic. That victory came at home against Crewe a fortnight ago – and it was Royals loanee Dominic Samuel that opened the scoring in a 3-0 win by hitting the net for the seventh time this season in Gills colours.
The Gills have just a single fixture over Easter as they face Bury at Gigg Lane on Monday. Before the season is out, they have a couple of particularly mouth-watering clashes – namely hosting Walsall at Priestfield in and a trip to current League 1 leaders Burton on the penultimate weekend.
Stuart Moore: Peterborough United (16th in League 1)
Goalkeeper Stuart Moore’s loan spell with the Posh is due to come to an end after the Good Friday meeting with Coventry at London Road. While their hopes of promotion haven’t yet been mathematically ended by a recent run of six defeats from seven games, realistically it would need a remarkable turnaround in the final nine games to stand a chance of making the play-offs.
The 21-year-old stopper has made a total of four appearances to date for Peterborough after debuting against Swindon Town last month.
Craig Tanner: Plymouth Argyle (4th in League 2)
The Pilgrims’ promotion charge has been checked somewhat in recent weeks – one draw and three defeats in the last four fixtures has pushed Plymouth to outside the automatic spots for the first time in almost six months. That means that a 660-mile round-trip to Morecambe on Good Friday and a home fixture against relegation-threated York on Easter Monday could prove extremely important – especially with a Devon Derby trip to local rivals Exeter to follow the next weekend.
Tanner has been involved heavily this season with the Pilgrims; he has 40 appearances under his belt for the Devonian outfit, and the most recent of his six goals was the equaliser in a 2-2 draw against promotion rivals Oxford United earlier this month.
Tariqe Fosu: Accrington Stanley (5th in League 2)
The Pilgrims’ fall back into the play-off positions means that they now sit just a point and a place above Accrington Stanley, who Tariqe Fosu joined on loan until the end of 2015/16 on the Football League’s loan deadline day. Indeed, Stanley beat Plymouth 2-1 a fortnight ago to help calcify their promotion prospects going into the final few weeks.
Fosu could debut as an Accrington player on Good Friday as Leyton Orient – whose hopes of automatic promotion have faded since winning their opening five fixtures – come to Lancashire. Then it’s on the coach on Easter Monday with Newport County AFC playing host in South Wales.
Rowan Liburd: Wycombe Wanderers (8th in League 2)
After missing out on promotion last season, thanks to an incredibly dramatic play-off final at Wembley against Southend United, Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe are making a fist of it once again in League 2. 23-year-old striker Rowan Liburd joined the Chairboys on loan last month to help add some firepower – they had failed to score in six of their ten games since the turn of the year since his arrival.
Liburd is yet to find the net in his blue quartered kit, but there are some green shoots for the Buckinghamshire club as they aim to break into the play-off places again, after spending a month on the outside of that pack. Commendable draws at Accrington and a Carlisle have preceded an Easter weekend which will see them host Mansfield on Good Friday and visit Notts County on Easter Monday – two sides rooted in mid-table. His loan is due to end after their following outing against AFC Wimbledon.
Jack Stacey: Carlisle United (11th in League 2)
Midfielder Jack Stacey, like Under-21 teammate Fosu, joined a club with ambitions of reaching League 1 on the loan deadline day – however the Cumbrians have ground to make up on some of the sides sitting above them, if their ambitions are going to be fulfilled.
Four draws and a defeat to runaway leaders Northampton from their past five fixtures has seen Carlisle remain in 11th, but Easter offers new opportunities for Stacey’s new side. He could make his debut on Friday in Yeovil – who have recently pulled clear of their relegation worries – before hosting Bristol Rovers at Brunton Park on Monday. Stacey’s loan is due to expire on April 23rd, meaning he is eligible for eight fixtures.
Dominic Hyam: Dagenham & Redbridge (24th in League 2)
The Easter weekend will be a quiet one for Daggers supporters – a spate of international call-ups for players from the London club means that the their trip to Luton and home tie with Morecambe have had to be rearranged. Our Academy graduate Dominic Hyam, who has played nine times since moving to Victoria Road on a loan spell which lasts until April 5th, will be one of those absentees – he is away with Scotland Under-21.
Realistically, it is going to be difficult for Hyam to help the Daggers to retain their Football League status. They sit rock-bottom, nine points from the safe haven of 22nd which is currently occupied by Stevenage… in context, they have picked up just nine points from their 14 games in 2016 so far.
Rob Dickie: Cheltenham Town (1st in National League)
Centre-half Dickie returned to Whaddon Road this week, having previously played 22 times for the Robins earlier this season and helping to send them to top of the table. His final appearance for the club was bittersweet – he netted an unlikely hat-trick in a 3-1 win against Chelmsford in the FA Trophy, but picked up an injury in doing to which has ruled him out until now.
The Robins are still top of the pile, as they were when his loan spell came to an abrupt end in December, but their lead has been cut to just a single point ahead of second-placed Forest Green. With seven games remaining, Dickie will be available again to try and see the Gloucestershire club over the line and back to the Football League; that all starts with a Good Friday game at home to Boreham Wood, before an Easter Monday visit to Wrexham.
Sean Long & Harry Cardwell: Braintree Town (5th in National League)
Defender Sean Long has already featured twice for Braintree since joining on loan earlier this month – clean sheets in either game helped the Iron to a goalless draw on his debut against Gateshead and a 1-0 win against leaders Cheltenham last weekend. The result ensured that they remained in the play-off spots in a heavily concertinaed race for promotion.
He won’t be involved this weekend, however, as he is away with Ireland’s Under-21s; however Harry Cardwell, who joined the Essex side on Thursday, could make his debut in Braintree’s front line against Bromley on Good Friday, before a trip to Aldershot on Easter Monday.
Royals’ duo George Legg and Jake Sheppard could both also be in action over the Easter weekend. Legg’s Gosport Borough face Whitehawk on Saturday before a Monday fixture with Basingstoke Town; they sit in sixth in the National League South, just one place outside the play off places. Sheppard’s Eastbourne sit 10th in the same division, and this weekend they face a trip to St Albans on Saturday before hosting Havant & Waterlooville on Monday afternoon.
Also in the same division are Bath City, where Liam Kelly is playing temporarily. He has been in fine form, netting three times for the club in just four games. The pick of the goals was a free-kick at home to Bishop’s Stortford in a 2-2 draw, when Kelly netted from 25-yards for the home side. Bath sit 18th in the table presently.
Goalkeeper Lewis Ward and winger Hammad Lawal also made switches to the National League South on Thursday; Ward links up with Sutton United, while Lawal joins Bishop’s Stortford – the two teams meet in a fortnight’s time. Meanwhile Farnborough and Bogdan Vastsuk are battling the drop from the Ryman League Premier at the moment and face Billericay and Kingstonian over the Easter weekend.