After a week off to enjoy some international football along with a feast of League One, League Two and chocolate action over the Easter weekend, it’s time to get back into the nitty gritty of the Football League.
Time is running out as we start the final stretch of the season, who impressed and who is still in a Easter Egg coma? Here are your award winners for this weekend.
Here’s a round up of the awards we’ve given for the following categories: Fans of the Weekend, Goal of the Weekend, Moment of the Weekend, Game of the Weekend, Young Player of the Weekend, Player of the Weekend and Game of the Weekend.
FANS OF THE WEEKEND: Preston North End
It’s always great to see a packed away support for a local game and credit to those 7,000 or so fans that made the trip over Lancashire to watch Preston take on Blackburn Rovers.
It was a solid game full of incidents as the away side sent their fans back home happy with a solid 2-1 victory that keeps alive their slim hopes of a playoff spot. Simon Grayson deserves a huge amount of credit for what he’s done with PNE this season and they will have exceeded expectation regardless of where they finish.
Those fans can still dream of yet another playoff run that may not end in heartbreak, given they broke their post-season hoodoo last year. Could they do it? If they can keep that many fans following them, they’ll have a whole city behind them.
GOAL OF THE WEEKEND: Ricky Holmes – Northampton Town
Another lovely strike from this man’s boot as Northampton slowly but surely make their way to the League Two title.
Holmes has had a few good strikes this season but this volley on the turn against Notts County was a real thing of beauty, even if it only led to them getting a single point. He’s been in fantastic form this season, whether it be from the bench or from the start and he can be proud of his achievements as the Cobblers stand on the brink of glory.
Another couple of goals should do it, especially if Oxford fail to win their next game and one more win would see Northampton promoted. Then it will continue to be a question of when not if they are crowned champions.
MOMENT OF THE WEEKEND: Naughty Joey Barton
First, Joey Barton stamps on Kayal…. https://t.co/7jv9HTbpR6
— Cormac Byrne (@cor_byrne) April 2, 2016
Joey Barton and controversy are never too far away from each other. To say that the former England international has a hot streak may be putting it lightly as he got a little lucky on Saturday afternoon.
The midfielder left his leg on a challenge against Biram Kayal, which looked both at full speed and in slow motion like he’d intentionally landed his boot on the Brighton player’s leg. He then collided with the same player, leading with his arm but on a closer replay, that was more of an incidental move.
It added to a fiery top-of-the-table encounter that more than impressed again. However, with the referee reporting the incident as being seen by the officials, no further punishment will be dealt when really Barton should have been reprimanded for having a little naughty moment.
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: Morecambe 4-2 Barnet
At this stage of the season, a mid-table clash between two sides that aren’t fighting against relegation or for promotion can be a snooze fest. This was not one of those situations.
Morecambe surged into a three-goal lead thanks to two strikes from Shaun Miller in the first 10 minutes before Alex Kenyon made it three just after half-time. Michael Gash pulled one back for the guests but Cole Stockton made the game safe in the final few minutes.
Gash had a consolation late on but both teams will be happy to have avoided the dreaded drop zone this season. These games are a bonus and at the very least, every fan would have got their money’s worth in this one.
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND: Moussa Dembele – Fulham
The young Frenchman has been highlighted all season for his superb displays so why not shine the light on him one more time? It’s like he’s a quality footballer or something.
Dembele scored and created a goal in Fulham’s vital 2-1 win over MK Dons that sees them put a little more daylight between themselves and the drop zone. His combination work with Ross McCormack has been a dream for the Cottagers this season and if they didn’t have such a shaky defence, things could have been so much more different.
The 19-year-old is very likely to moving on in the summer and rightfully so, he’s shown that he belongs at a higher level. However, Fulham fans will do their bit to enjoy as much of him as they can while he is still around.
PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND: Ollie Watkins – Exeter City
The 20-year-old has had a fabulous rise this season, winning the PFA Fan’s player of the month for March and he topped it off with a double against their main rivals.
With Plymouth up by a goal with 10 minutes to go, Watkins put his local team on his back and pulled them out of the mire. His good opener was topped by a wonderful strike in added time, giving his side the bragging rights along with moving their rivals out of the automatic promotion places.
It also keeps the Grecians in the playoff hunt and they’d be wise to ride the meteoric rise of Watkins. They’ve produced a number of quality young players in the last few years and if they can keep things going, they may just have the momentum to make it to the post-season and be a real danger.
TEAM OF THE WEEKEND: Wigan Athletic
There is not a team in the Football League that are riding on a crest of a wave like Wigan Athletic, who are sailing on their way back to the Championship on the first time of asking.
They had a fabulous Easter and it was topped off by a 5-1 win away to an in-form Shrewsbury Town. They even went behind but eventually, their quality shone through as Conor McAleny, Yann Wildschut, Jason Pearce and two goals from top scorer Will Grigg gave them a commanding win.
At almost the last moment, the Latics have sneaked into the top spot and it will take something special to move them now. They are in form with a great squad, it’s now Wigan’s League One title to lose.