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Thursday 04 Mar 2021
NI Player Watch | Daniel Ballard nets his first goal for Blackpool

Blackpool’s 1-1 draw at Crewe in midweek saw defender Daniel Ballard score his first goal for the club since joining the League One outfit on loan from Arsenal.

The 21-year-old, who opened his account for the home side when he headed in from a corner four minutes from half-time, told the club’s website he is keen to now add to his tally during the remainder of the season.

“I’ve been waiting for my first goal and I probably could have done a lot better in the box up to now, but hopefully I can now push on and get a few more,” he said.

His manager Neil Critchley agreed that he would love the Northern Ireland international to become a regular on the scoresheet.

“It was a great delivery and a fantastic header at the near post,” said Critchley. “Danny has got to bring that to his game, he’s got to add goals from set-pieces because defenders that weigh in with a few goals during the season will be worth their weight in gold.”

Elsewhere, Dion Charles scored his 15th of the campaign as Accrington Stanley’s play-off aspirations took a hit following a 2-1 home defeat to Ipswich Town while midfielder Callum Camps also found the net in Fleetwood Town’s surprise 2-1 success at promotion hopefuls Lincoln City. 

Striker Will Grigg’s fire is burning even brighter after chalking up his third assist and his third goal in six games for MK Dons who suffered a  3-2 defeat away to Gillingham. 

Despite the loss, MK Dons boss Martin Russell was still full of praise for Grigg’s performances since returning to the club on loan from Sunderland during the January transfer window. 

“He has been brilliant,” declared Russell. “His attitude, his attention to the details, and his quality. He is getting better and better, fitter and fitter.

“We’re really happy to have him, he’s proving a lot of people wrong and a lot of people right as well.

“As long as he keeps performing like that, we’ve got one of the top players at this level.”

Meanwhile in the Championship, George Saville scored just two minutes after entering the field of play as a substitute in Middlesbrough’s 2-1 win at Coventry City.

Paddy McNair, who was playing in his preferred central midfield role at St Andrew’s, also contributed to the three points when he provided the assist for Boro’s opening goal just before the break.

“Paddy McNair’s delivery from that free-kick was different class,” enthused manager Neil Warnock. “and it was great to see Grant Hall on the end of it.”

In the Premier League, Jonny Evans was missing from the Leicester City side which drew 1-1 with Burnley at Turf Moor on Tuesday evening after he aggravated a calf injury at the weekend, however goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell was again an unused substitute for the Clarets. 

Also absent in midweek because injury was Hull City striker Josh Magennis, though boss Grant McCann expects him to return for this weekend’s game at home to Bristol Rovers.  

“Josh picked up an ankle injury but we gave him as long as he needed to recover,” explained former NI international McCann. “He came in for a fitness test this morning (Tuesday) but didn’t quite make it, so hopefully he’ll be OK for the weekend.”

Finally, Under-21 international goalkeeper Conor Hazard has signed a new two-year deal at Celtic, while 17-year-old Jamie McDonnell has penned a three-year professional contract with Nottingham Forest despite only joining the club in the summer.