2016/17 Review: Eerste Divisie

One interesting trend from the 2016/17 season involving English players abroad has been the number of English expats competing in the Netherlands this season, particularly in the second tier, known as the Eerste Divisie.

Four Englishmen have also competed in the top-tier, the Eredivisie, this season but this post is going to focus on the second division, especially now as the regular season is over.

The Eerste Divisie finished last Friday and the playoffs for promotion to the top-tier begin tonight. Ten teams in total will compete in the playoffs, eight from the second division and two from the top-tier. The teams finishing 16th and 17th in the top-tier will join in the second round alongside the four highest playoff finishers from the second division. Tonight’s games see the other four sides begin two-legged first round playoff ties. The two winners of the two third round ties later in the month will earn the right to compete in the Eredivisie next season.

There were nine Englishmen who featured in the regular season of the Eerste Divisie in 2016/17, five of which were on loan from English clubs, three from Manchester City and two from Arsenal. There was also a third loaned from Arsenal but he is yet to make an appearance but did feature lower down the pyramid.

Let’s take a look at the nine who featured plus one other… (stats are for league games only)

The NAC Breda Boys

Ashley Smith-Brown

Ashley Smith-Brown. 21. Defender. NAC Breda, on loan from Manchester City. Appearances: 29. Goals: 1
The first of four Englishmen who have featured for NAC Breda so far this season, Ashley Smith-Brown will be starting in the second round of the playoffs alongside his NAC teammates following their fifth place finish this season.

A young left back, the 21-year-old had not played a senior game before agreeing to join NAC on a season-long loan at the start of the season. The former captain of City’s U18s, he has enjoyed a successful first season of senior football, becoming a regular in defence for his adopted club. Only two of his 29 appearances this season have come from the bench and he was subbed off on just three occasions.

An additional bonus for Smith-Brown this season has been scoring his first ever senior goal, which came in only his second appearance for NAC, during a 2-1 away win over Achilles ’29 in August last year. Smith-Brown’s only ever previous goals had come whilst playing for England U19s in the UEFA U19 European Championships in 2015.

Brandon Barker

Brandon Barker. 20. Winger. NAC Breda, on loan from Manchester City. Appearances: 22. Goals: 2
The second City loanee at NAC, Barker had just five senior appearances to his name before joining the Dutch club two games into the season, four of which came in the Championship during a brief loan spell with Rotherham last season.

The England youth international has managed 22 appearances so far this season, sixteen of which were starts. The winger also managed two goals, coming in two home wins.

James Horsfield

James Horsfield. 21. Defender/midfielder. NAC Breda, on loan from Manchester City. Appearances: 16. Goals: 1
The final of Manchester City’s three loanees at NAC, Horsfield joined the Dutch club in January earlier this year. Since the move, he has become a regular in defence for NAC, having originally joined the club as a midfielder.

Horsfield, who had made just three senior appearances before the move during a loan spell with Doncaster Rovers in 2015, has made sixteen appearances since his switch to the Netherlands and also scored in the 2-0 win over Fortuna Sittard back in March. The experience he has gained in the Eerste Divisie will no doubt prove priceless and would have been a significant improvement on how the 21-year-old spent the first half of the season, where he made 12 appearances for Man City’s U23s in Premier League 2.

Fisayo Adarabioyo

Fisayo Adarabioyo. 22. Striker. NAC Breda. Appearances: 12. Goals: 1
The only one of NAC’s four Englishmen not be on loan at the club, although there is still a strong City link with Fisayou Adarabioyo. He spent last season playing for Macclesfield Town in the National League and AFC Flyde in National League North. However this season, the 22-year-old has spent the campaign in the Netherlands’ second division.

Having spent his youth career with the academies of Manchester City, Birmingham, St Johnstone and Crystal Palace, Adarabioyo finally made his senior debut in September 2015 with Macclesfield. Following just three appearances with the Silkmen, he went on to play eight minutes with Flyde later in that year before spending the rest of the 2015/16 season without a club.

Then in August 2016, following a trial with the club, the 22-year-old signed a two-year deal with NAC. Fisayo’s younger brother, Tosin, currently plays for City and has appeared twice for the Citizens in the Champions League this season.

All 12 of Fisayo’s appearances for NAC this year have come from the bench but he did manage one goal during the 4-2 victory over RKC Waalwijk back in September. As well as his 12 appearances, the striker was also an unused sub a further 12 times.

The Permanent Eindhoven Additions

Kyle De Silva

Kyle De Silva. 23. Midfielder. FC Eindhoven. Appearances: 25. Goals: 2
The former Crystal Palace midfielder is one of two Englishmen who joined Eindhoven at the start of the season. The club’s campaign for 2016/17 is now over, after they failed to make the playoffs.

De Silva spent ten years with his local club Crystal Palace, making his senior debut in January 2012. However, he would go on to make only nine more appearances for the club and following a loan spell with Barnet in 2013, the midfielder went two seasons without playing a game following a string of untimely injuries.

In 2015, he joined Notts County but after a season with the Magpies, he had made only six appearances in all competitions. Finally though this season, De Silva is starting to realise some of his potential with Eindhoven.

Having joined the club at the start of the season, the 23-year-old has made 25 appearances for the Dutch side, 17 of which were starts. He has also bagged two goals, his first ever in senior football.

Jonny Rowell

Jonny Rowell. 27. Midfielder. FC Eindhoven. Appearances: 13. Goals: 0
For those who are English players abroad connoisseurs, Jonny Rowell will be a familiar name. The former Hartlepool United midfielder spent five seasons playing in Belgium for Olympic Charleroi and Waasland-Beveren between 2010 and 2015. During that time, he made 89 league appearances, with 47 of those coming in the top-tier with Waasland.

Following a season out, Rowell joined Eindhoven before the start of this season. It has been a slow return to football for the midfielder, having managed just 13 appearances this season, with only nine of those being starts. He was also an usused substitute on a further 16 occasions.

He failed to score this season but did manage to pick up two bookings.

The Arsenal Adventurers 

Tafari Moore

Tafari Moore. 19. Defender. Jong Utrecht, on loan from Arsenal. Appearances: 26. Goals: 0
Like Man City, Arsenal have also sent youngsters to the Netherlands this season, the first of which is Tafari Moore. The 19-year-old full back initially joined Eredivisie side Utrecht two games into the season. However, the young defender has spent almost the entirety of the season with Utrecht’s second team called Jong Utrecht (jong meaning young) in the second tier.

Having previously never made a senior appearance, Moore’s season in the Eerste Divisie can be considered a huge success. He made 26 appearances, 23 of which were starts, for Jong Utrecht becoming a regular in the side’s defence. He also demonstrated excellent discipline, having not picked up single booking all season. He also made one sub appearance for the club’s first team in the Eredivisie back in September.

Moore’s season is now over as his side finished 18th in the second tier but would have been ineligible for the playoffs anyway as he was playing for a reserve side.

Stefan O’Connor

Stefan O’Connor. 20. Defender. MVV Maastricht, on loan from Arsenal. Appearances: 4. Goals: 0
It’s fair to say that Stefan O’Connor’s loan spell to MVV Maastricht was not a success. The young defender managed just four sub appearances all season, with those four appearances totalling less than four minutes as all four came in stoppage time. He was also an unused substitute on 14 occasions.

Having made his first team debut for Arsenal in the Champions League in 2014 and after spending time on loan with York City in 2015/16, more was expected from O’Connor’s loan spell in the Netherlands.

The defender, who has previously featured for England U17s, is now expected to leave the Gunners over the summer, after his loan deal in the Netherlands was cut short.

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Aaron Eyoma

Aaron Eyoma. 19. Midfielder. Jong Volendam, on loan from Arsenal. Appearances: 6. Goals: 1
The final Arsenal youngster who has spent time in the Netherlands this year is midfielder Aaron Eyoma. Having made just one appearance for Arsenal U23s and one for Arsenal U19s in the first half of the season, the 19-year-old joined Volendam at the end of January.

Now at the end of the regular season, the defender failed to gain any game time with the first team, which finished the season in sixth place in the Eertse Divisie. However, he did make six appearances for the club’s Jong side which play in the country’s fourth tier. This included one start and one goal as Jong Volendam finished the season in 6th place.

The Returner

Andrew Driver

Andrew Driver. 29. Midfielder. De Graafschap. Appearances: 33. Goals: 0
It was a disappointing season all round for Andrew Driver. The oldest player on this list and the only one who played for the club this season who he also played for last season, the 29-year-old midfielder was looking to bounce back following relegation from the top-tier with De Graafschap last season. Despite being a regular in the side, starting all but six league games this season, his side managed to finish only 12th and missed out on the playoffs.

The former Hearts player had previously played abroad for Houston Dynamo, where he made 65 appearances in two seasons with the MLS club between 2013 and 2014. After that, a brief spell with Aberdeen followed before he joined De Graafschap in 2015.

This year, he failed to score in any of his 33 appearances as his side finished disappointingly in midtable.

English in action: 5th December

Belgium: Westerlo 1-2 Waasland-Beveren (Pro League)
Waasland-Beveren moved to seven points above the relegation places in the Belgian Pro League after coming from a goal down to defeat Westerlo 2-1.

English midfielder Jonny Rowell was in the starting line-up for Waasland, as his side looked for just their second league win of the season.

The match began poorly for Rowell’s side though, as after just 13 minutes his side were a goal down.

However, goals in the 41st and 80th minute were enough to secure the three points for Waasland.

Rowell helped his side to victory as he played 89 minutes before being substituted. He also picked up a booking in the first half.

Poland: Zawisza Bydgoszcz 0-1 Śląsk Wrocław (Ekstraklasa)

Tom Hateley in action earlier in the season.

Despite being in the top three of Poland’s Ekstraklasa, Śląsk Wrocław were looking for their first win in five as they travelled to bottom club Zawisza Bydgoszcz.

Monte Carlo-born English midfielder Tom Hateley started in midfield for the away side.

It looked like it would be another frustrating match for Śląsk, with four of their players picking up bookings (including Hateley), but with just four minutes to go, a goal from Sebastian Mila secured victory.

Hateley played the full ninety minutes as the visitors made hard work of defeating the league’s bottom side.

Italy: Fiorentina 0-0 Juventus (Serie A)
Micah Richards was an unused substitute for Fiorentina as they played out a goalless draw at home to Juventus.

English in action: 29th November

In a busy Saturday, fifteen Englishmen made appearances for their overseas sides.

Belgium: Waasland-Beveren 2-1 Mouscron-Péruwelz (Pro League)
English midfielder Jonny Rowell played the full ninety minutes as his side Waasland-Beveren defeated Mouscron-Péruwelz 2-1 in the Belgian Pro League..

The result means Rowell’s side move up to 13th in the league table, one spot above compatriot Chuks Aneke’s side, Zulte-Waregem.

Belgium: OH Leuven 3-0 Racing Mechelen (Second Division)
Another English midfielder in Belgian also saw his side his side win. John Bostock played the full match as his Leuven team strolled to a comfortable 3-0 win over Racing Mechelen.

The result means Bostock’s side remain in sixth place in the Belgian Second Division.

Cyprus: Ayia Napa 1-1 Nea Salamis (1. Division)
Two English players lined up against each other in this Cyprus top tier match.

Defender Michael Felgate and goalkeeper Corrin Brooks-Meade started for Ayia Napa and Nea Salamis respectively.

In the end, the points were shared between the two expatriates as a goal in each half saw the game end 1-1.

Germany: Hallescher 2-1 Osnabruck (3. Liga)
English forward Osayamen Osawe came on for his 12th substitute appearance of the season as his side Hallescher shocked Osnabruck by winning 2-1.

Osawe came on in the 91st minute, as the hosts looked to see out the final moments of the game by bringing on the former Blackburn Rovers forward.

Germany: Carl Zeiss Jena 4-0 Auerbach (Regionalliga)
13th place Auerbach travelled to 4th place Carl Zeiss Jena with two Englishmen in their squad.

Defender Korede Aiyegbusi started for Auerbach with his compatriot midfielder Moses Makinde on the bench.

However, the match turned out to be one to forget for the two expatriates, as even though Makinde came on in the 69th minute, Auerbach fell to heavy 4-0 loss.

Francis Williams.

Germany: Rot-Weiß Oberhausen 3-1 Rödinghausen (Regionalliga)
Two Englishmen played against each other as Rhys Tyler‘s Rot-Weiß Oberhausen hosted Francis William‘s Rödinghausen in Germany’s fourth tier.

Tyler started the game on the bench but Williams started up top for the visitors.

The game turned out to be bitter-sweet experience for Williams as the forward scored his first goal of the season, in his twelfth appearance, but could not prevent his side from losing 3-1.

Tyler came on as an 88th minute substitute for the hosts, with his side already 3-1 up.

India: Pune City 1-1 Atlético de Kolkata (Indian Super League)
Jermaine Pennant made his fourth start for Pune City as they hosted Atlético de Kolkata in the Indian Super League.

The English winger was subbed in the 84th minute with the match at 1-1, and that was how it finished.

Malta: Tarxien Rainbows 0-6 Valletta (Premier League)

Lateef Elford-Alliyu grabbed a brace

Valletta made it two comfortable wins in a row, as they defeated Tarxien Rainbows 6-0. The result meant Valletta have now scored 11 goals and conceded none in their last two games.

Lateef Elford-Alliyu was on the score-sheet once again as he bagged his fourth & fifth league goals of the season when he scored Valletta’s third and fifth goals of the match.

Portugal: Belenenses 0-0 Arouca (Primeira Liga)
English goalkeeper Matt Jones started for Belenenses as they looked to move into the Primeira Liga’s top three with a win.

The three points didn’t come though as, although Jones did his job by keeping a clean sheet, his outfield team-mates did not manage to get a goal, as the game ended 0-0.

USA: New England Revolution 2-2 New York Red Bulls (MLS Playoffs)
Two Englishmen did start for New York Red Bulls in their MLS Eastern Conference Playoff final second-leg but all the talk was about the English striker that didn’t start.

MLS top-scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips missed New York’s biggest game of the season through suspension.

The two Englishmen who did start though were Richard Eckersley and Lloyd Sam. The pair played the full ninety as the game ended 2-2, meaning New England went through on aggregate after a 2-1 win in the first leg.

English in action: 22nd November

Top flight domestic football was back yesterday, as players returned from their international breaks. Nine Englishmen were involved yesterday.

Belgium: Club Brugge 4-2 Waasland-Beveren (Pro League)

English midfielder Jonny Rowell and his Waasland-Beveren team-mates faced the unenviable task of an away trip to top of the table Club Brugge.

Rowell played for Hartlepool United in England before making the move to Belgium in 2010, where he has been ever since. He has featured in the country’s top three tiers since the move and he currently plays in the top division with Waasland, the Pro League.

The Englishman started the match and his side held their own in the first half, going into the break level at 1-1.

However, Brugge were just too strong in the second half and ran out eventual 4-2 winners. Rowell played 88 minutes before being replaced with a few minutes to go.

Belgium: OH Leuven 0-0 Eendracht Aalst (Second Division)
Dropping down a division, another English midfielder started in Belgium. John Bostock was in the starting line-up as his side OH Leuven hosted Eedracht Aalst, who sat four places lower in the table in 10th place.

Despite having scored five goals in his first ten games for Leuven, Bostock was unable to score for a second game in succession as the game ended goalless. The 22-year-old did pick up a booking though.

Belgium: Dender 0-1 Gullegem (Third Division)
Adam Burnaby-Atkins made it a hat-trick of English midfielders who started in Belgium. The 18-year-old featured for Dender as they hosted Gullegem in the Belgian third tier.

Burnaby-Atkins had previously featured in DC United’s academy in America but is now in his first season of senior football in Belgium. This match marked his tenth appearance of the season but unfortunately for him, he was substituted at half time as his side lost 1-0 and remained in the bottom two.

Cyprus: Othellos 2-1 Ayia Napa (1. Division)
More renowned as hotspot for English tourists, Ayia Napa is also home to a top tier football club and their English defender Michael Felgate. He started for Ayia Napa as they travelled Othellos.

The 23-year-old was making his seventh start of the season and is a regular once again in the Ayia Napa line-up, having been in the side in the 2012/13 season as well.

It looked like it was going to be a clean sheet for defender Felgate but with just four minutes remaining, Brazilian striker Thiago Santos bagged a brace to secure victory for Othellos and condemn Ayia Napa to defeat.

Italy: Atalanta 1-2 AS Roma (Serie A)

Arguably the most high profile of all the English players abroad is former England international Ashley Cole. He started in defence for Roma as they travelled to Atalanta.

Despite Roma’s defence being breached in the very first minute of the match, Cole and co. managed to keep it tight at the back for the rest of the match as Roma secured victory with two first half goals.

Cole played the full ninety in his eighth league start of the season for Roma.

India: FC Goa 2-0 Pune City (Indian Super League)
Jermaine Pennant continued to have a miserable time in the Indian Super League as his his side Pune City lost again.

The English winger was starting his third consecutive game but it resulted in a third consecutive loss.

Goa took the lead in the 6th minute and wrapped up the victory with a second in second half stoppage time. By that point, Pennant was off the pitch, having been replaced by former French international David Trezeguet in the 83rd minute.

New Zealand: WaiBOP 3-1 Wanderers (ASB Premiership)
Yesterday saw the ASB Premiership’s bottom two clubs play each other, both looking of whom were looking for their first points of the season.

English midfielder Jerahl Hughes started for WaiBOP. The former Yeovil Town player, who made one appearance in League One in 2007, was making his debut for the New Zealand side, having joined them in the summer from Conference side Whitehawk.

Hughes saw his side go 3-0 up before Wanderers pulled one back but by which point, it was too late and WaiBOP had their first win of the year. The 25-year-old Englishmen played 74 minutes before being replaced.

Portugal: Trofense 0-5 Belenenses (Taça de Portugal)

English goalkeeper Matt Jones is enjoying a brilliant season between the sticks for Belenenses. His side are currently fourth in the Portuguese Primeira Liga and have now secured passed to the last 16 of the cup with an emphatic 5-0 win over Trofense.

Jones kept a clean sheet as his side ran rampant against their lower division rivals. Trofense are currently bottom of Portugal’s second tier and the cup offered them no escape as they were put to the side by Belenenses.

Slovakia: Trencin 3-1 Senica (Super Liga)
Trencin’s English defender James Lawrence continued to impress as he remained solid in defence to help his side defeat Senica 3-1.

Lawrence started in defence as his team hosted Senica in a 2nd versus 3rd battle. He played the full 90 minutes as they won to keep the pressure on MSK Zilina who are currently top of the Slovakian Super Liga.