Following the break for the international window, club football resumed in the top divisions of England and Scotland this weekend.
The remaining Premier League fixture of this weekend took place at Villa Park on Monday evening when Aston Villa defeated visitors Newcastle United by two goals to nil. Conor Hourihane started and scored the opening goal from another superb trademark free kick. The Cork native then set up the second with another delicious delivery which just required the merest of touches for the second goal. Ciaran Clark recovered from the knock he picked up on Ireland duty last week and started in the middle of the ‘Magpies’ back three.
There was an exciting climax to the Premier League contest between Sheffield United and visitors Manchester United at Bramall Lane on Sunday afternoon as the sides played out a three all draw. The host ‘Blades’ had Enda Stevens and David McGoldrick in their starting eleven but John Egan did not recover from the injury picked up on international duty last week and missed out while Callum Robinson was introduced as a very late substitute. The ‘Blades’ with both Stevens and McGoldrick prominent dominated proceedings for the first seventy minutes scoring twice and looking in total command. However, the visitors responded unexpectedly with a three goal burst in seven minutes which seemed to have secured the points but not so as the hosts continued to show resilience and enterprise and secured the equaliser in added time.
Earlier in the afternoon the Championship clash of Middlesbrough and Hull City ended in a two all draw. The hosts with Darren Randolph in action took an early two goal lead but then lost a player to a red card on 37 minutes and were unable to hold out as the visitors scored twice in the final twenty minutes.
Southampton secured a two all draw with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon with Michael Obafemi named in the ‘Saints’ starting eleven while Shane Long, surprisingly overlooked by Mick McCarthy for Ireland, introduced from the substitute bench on 73 minutes. Wolverhampton Wanderers included Matt Doherty in their starting eleven for their two one victory at AFC Bournemouth while Shane Duffy started for Brighton & Hove Albion who went down to a two nil defeat by second place visitors Leicester City. A groin injury ruled Aaron Connolly out of contention for the ‘Seagulls’. Seamus Coleman was introduced from the Everton substitute bench on 66 minutes as they went down to a two nil defeat by visitors Norwich City. Jeff Hendrick started while Robbie Brady was an unused substitute for Burnley who secured a three nil victory at Watford.
Josh Cullen started in midfield for Charlton Athletic but was stretched off after 56 minutes of their two all draw with visitors Cardiff City in the Championship early on Saturday afternoon. Darragh Lenihan returned to the Blackburn Rovers starting eleven after several weeks of injury absence but Derrick Williams had not recovered from the injury suffered on international duty last week and missed out as their side defeated visitors Barnsley by three goals to two. Callum O’Dowda started for Bristol City but was substituted after 65 minutes of their scoreless draw at home to Nottingham Forest. Alan Browne and Sean Maguire were both in the Preston North End side which went down to a one nil defeat at Derby County. James McClean and Stephen Ward were both in the Stoke City side which came from behind to defeat visitors Wigan Athletic by two goals to one. James Collins scored for Luton Town who went down to a two one defeat by visitors Leeds United at Kenilworth Road.
Left back Thomas O’Connor, who made his Ireland U21 debut last week in the away defeat of Armenia and retained his place in the Tallaght victory over Sweden, was surprisingly named on the substitute bench for Gillingham who went down to a one nil League One defeat at AFC Wimbledon. O’Connor was however introduced from the bench after just 30 minutes. Alan Judge was an 85th minute substitute for Ipswich Town who were held to a two all draw by visitors Blackpool while Kieran O’Hara started for Burton Albion in their one nil defeat at Peterborough United.
There was one Championship fixture played on Friday evening with Fulham defeating local rivals QPR by two goals to one at Craven Cottage. Cyrus Christie, whose international career is hanging by a thread with Seamus Coleman, Matt Doherty and the emerging U21 player Lee O’Connor barring his way at right back, was introduced from the Fulham bench on 76 minutes while the recently heralded left wing back Ryan Manning was in the QPR starting eleven.