Crystal Palace midfielder, Hiram Boateng, missed out on promotion to League One with loan club Plymouth Argyle this afternoon.
Boateng played the full 90 minutes of the Pilgrims’ 2-0 defeat to AFC Wimbledon at Wembley Stadium, but struggled as Derek Adams’ side failed to find their rhythm.
Two late goals add to Pilgrims' woes, but Boateng has starred this season
After a dull and goalless first half, Wimbledon struck twice in the final 20 minutes to secure their place in the third tier of English football for the first time since the phoenix club was formed in 2002.
Top-scorer Lyle Taylor gave them the lead with a neat finish, before infamous striker, Adebayo Akinfenwa, came off the bench to score a penalty deep into stoppage time. The out-of-contract forward appeared to grab the ball from team-mate Callum Kennedy before taking the spot kick, joking afterwards in his post-match interview that he is “bigger” than the full-back.
Boateng was loaned to Plymouth to gain some much-needed first team experience, having endured a difficult spell at Crawley Town in 2014, but had become too good for the Eagles’ Under-21 side.
The midfielder has been a key player for the Devon-based club, appearing 30 times in all competitions. He has also chipped in with two goals – including one in the Devon derby against Exeter City in October.
Having seen his original six-month loan deal expire in January, Boateng made his Premier League debut in the draw at Swansea City, before re-joining Plymouth for the remainder of the season. He then helped the Pilgrims reach Wembley courtesy of a play-off semi-final victory over Portsmouth, but the promotion dream was ended by Wimbledon.
Defensive midfielder will hope for further opportunities next season
Primarily a defensive midfielder, Boateng’s key traits include his passing and his lung-busting runs from deep – epitomised by a sensational goal for Palace’s development side against Colchester United last season, picking up the ball on the halfway line before surging towards goal and tucking the ball under the goalkeeper. The strike later won the academy’s Goal of the Season award.
Boateng will join fellow League Two loanee Jake Gray in returning to Palace. Gray has enjoyed similar success at Hartlepool United, scoring six times in 33 appearances from central midfield. Meanwhile, Sullay Kaikai had already finished his loan with Shrewsbury Town and appeared in the Eagles’ final top-flight game of the season.
All three players are expected to secure further loan spells higher up the English football ladder next season, with Kaikai and Boateng especially aiming for deals with Championship sides.
Palace’s first team will tour North America in pre-season, and Boateng, Gray and Kaikai will all hope to play some part.