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Monday 25 Apr 2022
NI Player Watch | Weekend review

The Northern Ireland trio of Kyle Lafferty, Lee Hodson and Brad Lyons will be playing their football in the Scottish Premiership next season after Kilmarnock clinched the Championship title at the weekend following a dramatic late victory over Arbroath at Rugby Park.

A goal down with just 12 minutes remaining Derek McInnes’ Kilmarnock, who needed a victory to secure automatic promotion back to the top flight, scored twice with the winner coming in the final minute

Lafferty, who has scored eight goals since re-joining the Ayrshire outfit for a second spell back in January, and former Coleraine player Lyons, both started Friday night’s crucial encounter with second-placed Arbroath while Lee Hodson was an unused substitute.

Elsewhere in Scotland, Steven Davis started his first game for Rangers since February 12 and inspired them to a 3-1 victory at Motherwell to remain in second place, six points behind leaders Celtic.

On the goalscoring front, Liam Boyce bagged his 16th of the campaign as Hearts won 3-2 at Dundee United. It means Boyce edges closer to becoming the first player from the Edinburgh club to hit 20 goals in a season since John Robertson 30 years ago!

In the Premier League Craig Cathcart was used from the bench as struggling Watford fell to a 5-1 defeat against a clinical Manchester City outfit, though Jonny Evans was rested for Leicester City’s goalless draw with Aston Villa.

Commenting on Evans’ absence, manager Brendan Rodgers said: “With the quick turnaround of games, we needed to make sure Jonny was ok. He was a little bit tight so we can’t take any risks if we don’t need to.”

Meanwhile in the Championship Daniel Ballard and George Saville both started for Millwall whose play-off’s were dented after they could only manage a draw at Birmingham City.

Derby County, whose relegation to League One was confirmed this week, gave 17-year-old Craigavon-born midfielder Darren Robinson his first-team debut when he was introduced to the action as a late sub in the 3-1 defeat to Bristol City on Saturday.

In League One Sunderland cruised to a 5-1 victory at home to Cambridge United though defender Carl Winchester was replaced after just 10 minutes of the encounter after sustaining a groin injury.

“Winny has hurt his groin, but the extent of it, I can’t tell you at the moment,” said Black Cats' boss Alex Neil. “What I would say about Winny is that he’s a robust lad, a hardy boy, so he’s not one to come off if there’s any chance you can continue.”

Midfielder Paddy Lane was suspended for Fleetwood Town’s game with AFC Wimbledon, however, over the weekend the 21-year-old was named as the ‘Sky Bet League One Young Player of the Season’ in a campaign which has seen him make 37 appearances for the League One outfit scoring five goals and assisting a further eight.

Rangers Women’s side made history on Sunday when they played at Ibrox for the first time as they continued their march towards the SWPL title with a resounding 4-0 success over Aberdeen.

Speaking to irishfa.com Northern Ireland defender Demi Vance, who assisted Rangers’ opening goal, said: “It was fantastic to play as a team at Ibrox yesterday, the support was great and it’s a big boost for women’s football in Scotland that we were able to play there.”

Finally there were goals in the U18 Premier League for Southampton’s Matty Carson and Dale Taylor of Nottingham Forest while Rangers striker Ross McCausland scored his 13th of the season as Rangers ‘B’ side defeated Dalbeattie Star 4-3 in the Lowland League.