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Monday 22 Oct 2018
Ross County striker Billy McKay's goalscoring streak continues

Striker Billy McKay struck for the fifth time in three games as Ross County leapfrogged opponents Ayr United to the top of the Scottish Championship with a 2-1 victory at Dingwall on Saturday.

McKay, who turns 30 today, took his tally to eight for the season as he helped the Staggies’ extend their unbeaten league run to six games. 

After the intensity of two tough internationals in four days, it was back to club action for the majority of Michael O’Neill’s squad over the weekend. 

Goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Stuart Dallas were both in the Leeds United side that lost 2-1 to Blackburn Rovers who also had midfielder Corry Evans in their starting line-up.  

The Middlesbrough pair of Paddy McNair and George Saville both had to be content with a place on the bench as Tony Pulis’ side won 2-0 at Sheffield Wednesday on Friday night. 

Northern Ireland’s latest international recruit, Kyle Vassellplayed for 65 minutes of Rotherham United’s 1-1 draw at home to Bolton Wanderers - a game in which striker Josh Magennis missed from the penalty spot for the visitors early in the second half. 

Wanderers’ boss Phil Parkinson stated he didn’t look when the former Aberdeen and Charlton frontman stepped up to take the penalty. 

“I didn’t watch but I looked for our fans’ reaction,” he said. “When they didn’t jump up, I was like everyone else and disappointed.

“Josh has got to be brave enough to take them, he does in training, but we’ll move on and think about it next time.

“I’m just pleased we got one,” he added, “Josh made a terrific run after a great ball from Joe Williams and deservedly got the penalty.”

On the positive side for Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill, Shane Ferguson, Jamal Lewis and Ollie Norwood all played the full 90 minutes for their respective clubs in the Championship.

Unfortunately, one player who could be unavailable for next month’s games with the Republic of Ireland and Austria is Will Grigg. He looks set to be sidelined for a number of weeks after picking up a hamstring complaint in the 1-0 defeat against Austria in Vienna. 

Former Crusaders winger Gavin Whyte was in the Oxford United side which earned a valuable point at Bristol Rovers in League One, while Liam Boyce helped Burton Albion to back-to-back wins with a 3-2 success at bottom-of-the-table Plymouth Argyle. 

Elsewhere in the same division, Jamie Wardwho missed last week’s Nations League double-header, got another 65 minutes under his belt as Charlton Athletic defeated Barnsley 2-0 at The Valley.  The diminutive winger is currently on loan with the south London outfit from Nottingham Forest until January, but is keen to extend his stay with the club. 

Ward said: “At the moment I’ve got until January but hopefully it can get extended and I can help until the end of the season.

“That’s not up to me, that is in the club’s hands. All I can do is focus on trying to do well until January. Whatever happens then is totally down to the club.

“It’s just nice to be wanted again. It’s always hard if you’re not wanted at other clubs. It’s nice to have a manager who has a bit of faith in me and is willing to play me.”

Finally, in Scotland, defender Aaron Hughes made his first appearance for Hearts since August as they maintained their three-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a 2-1 victory over Aberdeen at Tynecastle.