A round-up of our loanees’ games this weekend…
Duo Tariqe Fosu and Jack Stacey – long-term teammates with the Royals throughout their upbringing – came head to head on Saturday in competitive EFL action, as Fosu’s Colchester hosted Stacey’s Exeter.
And of the two young Royals – both of whom were making their debuts for their new League 2 loan clubs – it was Stacey that went home the happier as he claimed a winning assist as a see-saw game fell 3-2 on the side of the Grecians.
Stacey was on the pitch for the entire 90 minutes – after starting on the right side of an attacking three, he dropped in at right-back after injury forced a reshuffle. From there, he bombed on down the left and crossed into the middle… former Royal Jake Taylor couldn’t quite apply a telling touch, but Jamaican international Joel Grant turned in the winner at the back stick.
Exeter had gone ahead initially through Robbie Simpson, only for Sammie Szmodics and Kurtis Guthie to turn the game around for the U’s… and then parity was restored again by Exeter’s Ollie Watkins before Grant’s winner.
Fosu made an impact of his own during his 30 minutes from the bench as a substitute – his quick feet worked an angle before he drew a smart stop from goalie Bobby Olejnik, and then Troy Brown did well to block Fosu’s shot from the edge of the box as the visitors just about clung on to the points.
On the same afternoon, Craig Tanner was an unused substitute for Plymouth Argyle as the Pilgrims left it late to beat Rob Dickie’s Cheltenham Town at Home Park.
Dickie nearly made it back-to-back goals in League 2 games after hitting the opener against Crewe Alexandra a week before – he rose well to meet James Rowe’s delivery, but glanced a header just past the far post.
Cheltenham also came the width of the post in the second period through Asa Hall, whose stinging effort cannoned back into play. And while Derek Adams made attacking switches to try and win it for the hosts, it was centre-half Sonny Bradley that got on the end of a delivery deep into stoppage time to head in the game’s only goal.
And of the Royals’ outbound loanees, it wasn’t just Dickie that suffered late heartbreak at the weekend… goalkeeper Jonathan Bond and his Gillingham teammates also fell to a last-ditch defeat to Sheffield United at Priestfield – in galling circumstances.
The hosts had been ahead through a sublime Bradley Dack free-kick in the first half, but the Blades levelled after the interval when Kieron Freeman turned in Billy Sharp’s centre. Bond made smart stops to deny Sharp and Mark Duffy, and needed patching up after bravely denying Chris Basham down low.
But when half-time Josh Pask inexplicably handled in his own box in the final minute of the 90, the ref had no option but to award the penalty… Bond went the right way, but Sharp’s shot from 12 yards had too much venom behind it to keep out.