Folarin Balogun and Daniel Ballard both saw their loans come to an end on Saturday, as they narrowly missed out on the promotion play-offs.

LONDON, ENGLAND: Daniel Ballard of Millwall under pressure from Dominik Frieser of Barnsley during the Sky Bet Championship match between Millwall and Barnsley at The Den on April 09, 2022. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Daniel Ballard of Millwall under pressure from Dominik Frieser of Barnsley during the Sky Bet Championship match between Millwall and Barnsley at The Den on April 09, 2022. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)

Going into the final day of the Championship season, there was still one play-off place potentially up for grabs for two Arsenal loanees.

Luton Town sat in sixth place at the start of the day, but they were still within reach of Middlesbrough (Folarin Balogun) and Millwall (Daniel Ballard) if they slipped up.

A draw for Luton against Reading would leave a gap for Middlesbrough to overtake them with a win. A defeat for Luton and anything but a win for Middlesbrough would give Millwall the opportunity to sneak ahead of both of them.

The early bad news for any Arsenal fans with an interest in the games was that neither loanee started for their club.

Ballard had picked up a short-term injury in the last week or so, ruling him out of the squad completely, whilst Balogun was on the bench for Middlesbrough.

Things kept getting worse once the matches began. Within 35 minutes, Middlesbrough were 2-0 down, and Luton took the lead against Reading just before the half-time break.

Luton’s goal came through a goalkeeping error by Reading, so they’ll be disappointed Arsenal’s Karl Hein wasn’t fit to play that day.

In the second halves, Middlesbrough slumped to a 4-1 defeat (with Balogun playing the final 28 minutes), and Millwall lost late to Bournemouth. None of that mattered anyway, as Luton held onto their 1-0 lead for the win.

Daniel Ballard and Folarin Balogun (Photo via Millwall on Twitter)
Daniel Ballard and Folarin Balogun earlier in the season (Photo via Millwall on Twitter)

As a result, Middlesbrough finished seventh, five points away from the play-offs, whilst Millwall actually dropped to ninth on the final day.

Ballard ends the campaign having made 33 appearances (31 starts), a very solid campaign considering his mid-season knee surgery. He should be attracting interest from one of Europe’s top leagues this summer.

Balogun finishes the season with 21 appearances since January, but just 11 of them starts.

It was good for him to get his first experience of senior football, and he provided a goal or assist every 150 minutes in the Championship (three goals, three assists), but he’ll be hoping for a starting role somewhere next year.

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.