Tom Cleverley and Oumar Niasse made their debuts for Watford and Hull City respectively this weekend as youngster Callum Connolly marked his first appearance for Wigan Athletic with a brace of headers.
Cleverley stepped off the substitutes’ bench with 13 minutes remaining of Watford’s 0-0 draw at home against Middlesbrough, hitting the post late on after being teed up by skipper Troy Deeney.
Likewise, Niasse was introduced late on in Hull’s 3-1 win over Bournemouth, playing the final seven minutes after a brace from Abel Hernandez and a Tyrone Mings own goal had already cancelled out Junior Stanislas’ third-minute penalty to secure all three points.
Elsewhere in the Premier League, Brendan Galloway was an unused substitute as West Bromwich Albion lost 4-0 at Spurs, for whom Harry Kane netted a hat-trick.
Down to the Championship and it was a day to remember for the versatile Connolly. The youngster’s loan switch to the DW Stadium was only confirmed at 2pm but he was named in the starting line-up by manager Warren Joyce and duly grabbed both goals in a 2-0 win at Burton Albion, earning himself a new song from the happy Latics faithful.
“I can’t really describe how today made me feel; we knew it was going to be a six-pointer and the gaffer reminded us of that in the changing rooms before the game,” he said afterwards. “It is all a bit of a blur but I got on the end of a cross for the first goal and luckily it went in. It was a great feeling celebrating in front of the fans, where my family were, too.
“I heard my new song after the goal in the second half and it gave me a great boost of confidence.”
Wigan remain 23rd in the table following the victory but are now only three points from climbing out of the relegation zone, having closed the gap on opponents Burton.
At Deepdale, Aiden McGeady played 94 minutes before making way as Preston shocked league leaders Brighton and moved up to ninth in the table with a 2-0 win.
In League Two, there was more joy for Conor Grant, who played the full match as Doncaster came from behind to stay four points clear at the top, beating Barnet 3-1 at the Hive.
Elsewhere, Delial Brewster sat out Southport’s 2-1 reverse at home to Wealdstone in the Buildbase FA Trophy, while Shani Tarashaj’s Eintracht Frankfurt are not due to return from their winter break until this coming Saturday when they face second-placed Red Bull Leipzig in the Bundesliga.