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McClean returns to starting line-up in Stoke win

Elsewhere in the football league, there were bittersweet days for Kieran Sadlier and Ryan Cassidy.

File photo of James McClean in action for Stoke.
File photo of James McClean in action for Stoke.
Image: Martin Rickett

JAMES MCCLEAN MADE a return to the Stoke City starting line-up in their 1-0 win away to Preston North End in the Championship this afternoon. 

McClean won the club’s Player of the Year award last season but was left out of the match day squad for both of the opening two fixtures of the Championship season. Manager Michael O’Neill this week rejected speculation linking McClean with a move to Celtic and restored the Irish international to his starting line-up for today’s game, won by a 39th-minute goal by Lee Gregory. Preston – captained by Alan Browne with Sean Maguire leading the line – played most of the game with 10 men after the sending off of Tom Barkhuizen midway through the first half. 

Elsewhere, Reading are top of the Championship table with three wins from three following a 2-1 win away to Cardiff City, for whom Greg Cunningham started at left-back. 

Michael Morrison and Lucas Joao scored in the second half for Reading, with Cardiff pulling a goal back through Lee Tomlin. 

Swansea are second following a 2-0 win away to Wycombe. Watford are a place behind on goal difference following a 1-0 win over Luton Town, for whom Irish international James Collins started and played 71 minutes. 

Blackburn, meanwhile, are fourth on goal difference too, after a 4-0 hammering of Derby County. Jason Knight played the whole game for Derby, with Irish internationals Daragh Lenihan and Derrick Williams enjoying a much better day at the heart of Rovers’ defence.

Further down the league, Kieran Sadlier scored a late penalty in Rotherham’s 1-1 draw at Birmingham. That 87th-minute goal gave Rotherham the lead, but they were denied a win when Jeremie Bela scored a penalty of Birmingham’s own in stoppage time. 

Scott Hogan started the game for Birmingham, while Chiedozie Ogbene, in the process of getting paperwork in order to play for Ireland, played the full game for Rotherham.  

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Irish underage internationals Liam Kelly and Conor Masterson were unused substitutes in QPR’s 1-1 draw at home to Middlesbrough, with Ryan Manning again left out of the match day squad. Chuba Akpom have ‘Boro a 19th-minute lead that was cancelled out by Bright Osayi-Samuel’s equaliser nine minutes later. 

Millwall, missing the injured Troy Parrott, were held 1-1 at home by Brentford while Barnsley and Coventry City drew 0-0. 

In League One, Irish U21 striker Ryan Cassidy scored the first senior league goal of his career in Accrington Stanley’s 4-1 defeat at home to Oxford United. Cassidy, on loan from Watford, converted a 71st-minute penalty to draw Stanley level, but it all went awry shortly after, with a Joe Pritchard own goal and a red card for Dion Charles leading to a late collapse. 

Ipswich and Hull are top of the league with three wins from three each, following 2-0 wins over Rochdale and Northampton Town respectively. The ‘Dale line-up featured five Irish players, including teenage goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, on loan from Manchester City. 

A late Grant Leadbitter penalty handed Sunderland a 1-0 win at home to Peterborough, while John Sheridan’s Wigan were 2-1 winners away to Portsmouth. 

 

 

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Gavin Cooney

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