Bolton Wanderers finally bloody won away. 596 days and enough fume to scald yourself on is all it took and by christ what a relief it was to finally see the Whites do it. I was at the Cherry Red Records Stadium on Saturday, as Wanderers beat Wimbledon 2-1, and I did manage to see some of the match despite the terrace which didn't afford much of a view. Here's how the players did.
Mark Howard - 5
Wasn't particularly threatened all that much, although he made a good instinct save early on in the game and did well to keep hold of a free kick in the second half. His distribution is pretty woeful, though.
Lewis Buxton - 7
It was my first time watching Buxton and I was impressed. He isn't a fullback that helps out much in attack but the defence comes first and in that regard he appears to be rather solid, although, he may have switched off for the goal. I loved how measured he was in winning the ball back, no silly back turning or diving in, just standing his ground and taking it off attackers' toes. Looks like another good signing by Parky.
David Wheater - 7
Aside from a couple of nervous scrambles in the wonderful partnership of Wheater and Beevers, Beeter, if you will, continued to impress on Saturday. There were a couple of moments, especially in the first half, when Wimbledon loaded the box and everything was a bit chaotic, but eventually things cooled and the pair pretty much looked unbreakable (apart from their lovely goal, obvs). Wheats was dragged out of position which allowed the Wimbledon player to go through and score, but he wasn't the only culprit and redeemed the error with some great clearances and tackles.
Mark Beevers - 8
Beevers, or Baevers, continued to really impress and look even more like a stroke of genius from Parkinson with every passing game. Strong, dominant, pacey, a natural leader and an absolute rock of a centre back, we may well have struck gold here. As the minutes ticked down and Wimbledon piled on the pressure Beevers was a massive reason why we didn't revert to the Bolton of old and concede in the last minute, he's added some much needed steel and nerve to the team.
Dean Moxey - 5
It wasn't the best performance from Moxey, as he was beaten on a few occasions and often caught day dreaming when throw ins were being taken. However, he was good on the ball and did well to constantly run up in support of the attack.
Jay Spearing - 5
Good ol' Tom gave Spearing the MOTM award, but I actually thought Spearing was a bit poor. We all know he's not a great passer, but he really did give the ball away sloppily at times, inviting pressure when there was no need. He ran, hustled and harried all day long, but I feel like he gets caught out quite a lot while playing the base of the diamond as he's a player who likes to run about the pitch rather than just sit in front of the defence.
Josh Vela - 4
Vela was playing on the right of the diamond rather than in defensive midfield on Saturday and, again, I felt like he didn't really offer anything at all. Aside from maybe one good cross I can't really recall a single effect he had on the game. I like Vela, I really do, but I just can't see what he's offering to the side at the moment, but Parky seems to like him so what do I know?
Mark Davies - 3
Even though his outside of the boot pass set up the equaliser (and it was a lovely pass) it was yet another poor showing from Davies who is still failing to fulfil his potential despite dropping down two divisions. He's just become so wasteful on the ball, often so wrong in his decision in making; like when he just runs with it and instead of then releasing the ball runs into a wall of players. It was clear how bad Davies was playing when he was replaced by Clough and the side instantly looked better for it. Davies is easily our most talented footballer, he has more raw ability and skill than any one, but he just so rarely uses it on the football pitch that he's quickly becoming dead weight.
Liam Trotter - 7
While I was watching the game I thought Trotter was playing poorly. He's just so immobile that he hardly looks like he's ever moving, and he's also the size of a caravan but was easily brushed off the ball. But it was something Parkinson said in his post-match interview, about how Trotter is a player who "takes his time and doesn't rush" or something a long those lines and it got me thinking. Yeah, he is. Trotter's performance didn't look that effective when he's playing along side constant runners like Spearing and Vela, but in actual fact he was just really composed when on the ball and took the time to play the right pass, and didn't gamble there wasn't a good option. That, along with his knack of being able to arrive in the box from deep unmarked (like his winning goal) could see him finally become a handy player for us this season.
Jamie Proctor - 8
My personal choice for the MOTM, Jamie Proctor. Parkinson chose to start both big men against Wimbledon to compete with their physicality, and seeing both Proctor and Madine play alongside each other really makes the differences apparent. Proctor is a willing runner, can flick the ball on, can bring it down, run with it and lay it off and can play a good cross along the box, Madine, well we'll get on to him. I've been really impressed on the two occasions I've seen Proctor play because he is a genuine target man, the ball can be pumped up to him and he'll actually keep a hold of it rather than half heartedly attempt to win it. I really think he'll be a hit here.
Gary Madine - 6
It's a weird one Madine, his goal was well taken if a little fortuitous and I do think he'll score quite a few in League one but, especially along side Proctor, he just doesn't look that arsed. I'm not saying every player needs to run about for 90 minutes to be useful, but when a ball is pumped up it's obvious that Proctor tries far harder to win it than Madine, for example. I don't want to be too critical because he did score and he did well with keeping the ball in the corner as the came to an end, but I do feel like he needs to up some other areas of his game.
Zach Clough - 7
It was a great to see Clough back and even better to him looking fit, raring to go and, finally, like he's bulked up a bit. There was a few occasions in which he was really battling for the ball with tough Wimbledon midfielders and each time Clough came out on top. He looks sharp on the ball was so much more effective on it than Davies, I really hope he starts against Bristol.
Chris Taylor - 5
Came on for Vela and we did look better for it as it gave us some actual width, but I don't recall him being on the ball all that much.
Andrew Taylor - 5
Wigan loanee Andy Taylor came on for his debut to help see the game out and did just that. He didn't make any calamitous mistakes which would have made the Wigan fans laugh, which is always nice, and just put himself about well once he came on. Nearly got on the end of a nice counter attack in added time too.