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Monday 18 Sep 2023
Dan Ballard nets first goal for Sunderland

Northern Ireland defender Daniel Ballard scored his first Sunderland goal at the weekend as the Black Cats came from a goal down to secure a 3-1 win at Loftus Road against Queens Park Rangers.

Ballard, who picked up his 19th international cap in the recent defeat to Kazakhstan, tapped the ball home on 57 minutes to give the visitors the lead and send them on their way to a first away win of the season.

Also getting his name on the scoresheet at the weekend was Hearts striker Liam Boyce whose goal in the 2-0 win over Aberdeen at Tynecastle was his first in 13 months for the Edinburgh outfit.

Hearts went into the game on the back of three straight defeats and Boyce admitted it was a huge result.

“There was a wee slice of luck with the deflection and it went in but I think that sort of settled us down,” said the forward, who also provided an assist for the opening goal.

“It was massive. We are all honest boys and we know it hasn’t been good enough. We sit down and try to talk through it. We sat down as a team and staff and I thought today we were much better.”

Dion Charles registered his sixth goal of the season as Bolton Wanderers fell to a 2-1 defeat at Reading, while Kyle Vassell’s second of the campaign helped earn Kilmarnock a point in a 2-2 draw at home to Hibernian.

Rangers midfielder Megan Bell celebrated her call-up into the Northern Ireland squad by scoring her first goal of the season as the Glasgow outfit trounced Montrose 12-0 to maintain top spot in the Scottish Women’s Premier League.

Former under-21 international Jamie Reid scored his fourth goal in three games as Stevenage drew 1-1 at home to Charlton Athletic in League One and Lewis McCann, brother of Ali, struck twice as Dunfermline Athletic recorded just their second league win of the season after a 2-0 success at Queen’s Park. 

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill will be pleased to see a number of his injured stars returning to action after Gavin Whyte and Ciaran Brown both started for Portsmouth and Oxford United respectively and striker Dale Taylor came on as a late substitute for Wycombe Wanderers.

On-loan defender Jamal Lewis, who has missed the opening weeks of the new campaign with a calf injury, made his long-awaited debut as a substitute in Watford’s 2-0 Championship victory over Birmingham City.   

Elsewhere, another loanee defender, Kofi Balmer, made his first league appearance for Port Vale who claimed all three points after a single-goal victory at home to Northampton Town in League One.

In Denmark goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell was red-carded midway through the first half of Aarhus’ home clash with Brondby which they eventually lost 3-0.

Also receiving their marching orders over the weekend were Bolton Wanderers defender Eoin Toal and former Linfield winger Liam McStravick who was booked twice in Airdrieonians' 4-0 defeat at Arbroath in the Scottish Championship.

Finally, in the U18 Premier League, Jack Patterson hit a consolation for Everton as they lost 2-1 to Stoke City; Justin Devenny also scored as Crystal Palace won 6-2 at Middlesbrough in the U21 Premier League Cup and Callum Marshall hit a brace in a 5-0 victory for West Ham over Celtic in the U21 Premier International Cup.