Another week of football action, in which Irish players who are or may become involved at some international level, kicked off on Saturday afternoon last, the 14th December 2019.
The English Championship continued on Friday evening with Stoke City travelling to face Middlesbrough for whom Darren Randolph continues to be an injury absentee. The visitors included James McClean and Stephen Ward in their starting eleven but injury forced both their withdrawals during the second half as their side went down to a two one defeat. Aston Villa loanee Scott Hogan and Nathan Collins were unused substitutes for Stoke.
The English Football League Cup quarter-finals were completed on Wednesday evening with Seamus Coleman, who returned to first team duty on Sunday last, in action for Everton who welcomed high flying Leicester City to Goodison Park where they exited the competition in a penalty shoot-out after they recovered an early two goal deficit to level the match at two goals each.
The two remaining quarter-finals featured Oxford United, who went down to a three one defeat at home to Manchester City while Colchester United travelled to face Manchester United at Old Trafford where they were defeated by three goals to nil.
The draw for the semi-finals of the competition has paired the two Manchester sides, City and United while the Midlands duo of Aston Villa and Leicester City clash in the other two-legged semi-final.
The quarter-finals of the English Football League Cup commenced on Tuesday evening with Aston Villa crushing Liverpool by five goals to nil at Villa Park. The hosts were at full strength but the visitors fielded a reserve side as their senior squad is contesting the World Club Championship Finals in Qatar. Conor Hourihane started and scored the opening goal following his absence from the Villa match day squad on Saturday last while our U21 International Goalkeeper Caomihin Kelleher was in the firing line for Liverpool.
There was further English Premier League action on Monday evening with Crystal Palace playing host to Brighton & Hove Albion at Selhurst Park. The match ended in a one all draw but the visitors will be bitterly disappointed as they totally dominated the first hour of the contest but had only one goal to show for their supremacy. James McCarthy was introduced from the Palace bench for the second half and helped stem the visitors flow. The hosts then had a purple patch for some 15 minutes during which they scored the equaliser. Shane Duffy was introduced from the Brighton bench on 85 minutes as they solidified to secure the away point.
The English Premier League continued on Sunday afternoon with Seamus Coleman returning to the Everton starting eleven which earned a well deserved point from a one all draw at Manchester United. There was disappointment for Matt Doherty and Wolverhampton Wanderers who went down to a two one defeat at home to Tottenham Hotspur.
A still stuttering Burnley received a welcome boost with a one nil victory over a seemingly revitalised Newcastle United at Turf Moor in the English Premier League on Saturday afternoon. The hosts had Jeff Hendrick in their starting eleven with Robbie Brady unused on the substitute bench. Kevin Long appears to have dropped down the pecking order and has not made the matchday squad in recent weeks. Ciaran Clark, who has been performing splendidly for the ‘Magpies’ in the middle of a back three, suffered injury in last Sunday’s win over Southampton and missed out this weekend. Sheffield United had John Egan, Enda Stevens and David McGoldrick in their starting eleven for the two nil victory over fellow promoted side Aston Villa at Bramall Lane but Callum Robinson did not feature in the matchday squad while Conor Hourihane was similarly absent from the Villa squad. The late kick-off saw Shane Long start for Southampton who went down to a one nil home defeat by West Ham United while Michael Obafemi was unused on the substitute bench. Gavin Kilkenny was an unused substitute for AFC Bournemouth who secured a one nil victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Ashton Gate hosted the Championship meeting of Bristol City and Blackburn Rovers which went the way of the visitors by two goals to nil with midweek goal scorer Callum O’Dowda introduced from the substitute bench on 59 minutes while Daragh Lenihan was in central defence for the victors. Teenage midfielder Jason Knight started for Derby County who suffered a one nil defeat at home to Millwall who included loanee Jayson Molumby, Shaun Williams and Alex Pearce in their starting eleven with Aiden O’Brien an 81st minute substitute. Preston North End duo, Alan Browne and Sean Maguire both started the two one victory over Deepdale visitors Luton Town for whom James Collins scored their goal from the penalty spot. New manager Michael O’Neill seems to be having a positive effect on Stoke City but they were held to a scoreless draw by visitors Reading this afternoon. James McClean and Stephen Ward both started with Scott Hogan a 63rd minute substitute while Nathan Collins was an unused substitutes. Cyrus Christie was in the Fulham side which went down to a one nil defeat at Brentford.
Southampton loanee Thomas O’Connor was in League One action with Gillingham who played out a one all draw at Fleetwood Town while Alan Judge was a 65th minute substitute for Ipswich Town who went down to a two one defeat by visitors Bristol Rovers at Portman Road. Trevor Clarke was an unused substitute while Chiedoze Ogbene was in the Rotherham United side which drew two each at Southend United while Kieran O’Hara and his Burton Albion colleagues went down to a two nil defeat at Wycombe Wanderers.