The Wanderers continued their recent improved form with a hard-fought draw at Preston. While the defence deserves credit for keeping a clean sheet, maverick workhorse Sammy Ameobi really stood out for me.
As our Dear Leader and general troublemaker Chris Manning pointed out earlier this week, his hard work and tracking back really help to make life easier for those behind him. Mark Little, in particular, benefited from this, and the two seem to have formed a formidable partnership down the right - Ameobi holds the ball up well, and by cutting in onto his left foot allows Little the space to get forward and threaten on the overlap. He did this numerous times to good effect, and also used the space that opened up by cutting inside to switch play to the left and coax Antonee Robinson forward. Special mention should go to both full backs, who both had an excellent game, both profiting from Ameobi’s play to get forward and provide an outlet, particularly in the second half.
Another facet of Sammyameobi’s game that stood out against PNE was the aid that he gave a toiling Gary Madine up front. He provided an alternative target for long balls, winning a number of headers and holding the ball up well. He also carried the ball well and as ever his pace and unpredictability really caused trouble for the opposing defence. Unfortunately his final ball was not quite up to the standard of recent weeks, but I still feel his hard work, hold-up and link-up play and the way he worked with both full-backs merits the MOTM award.
I really think Ameobi provides a vital link between Gary Madine and the rest of the team that was sorely lacking while he was out injured. The former Newcastle United and Cardiff winger spent the early part of his career as an impact sub, but has matured into a hardworking and versatile wide midfielder who is comfortable on the ball and shows good awareness of his team-mates. Josh Vela is the only other member of our squad who provides such a link with the Goal Machine, but he didn’t really seem to find space or get into the game against Preston. If both had been fit since the start of the season I think we’d be in a much more comfortable position than we currently are, and if both can stay fit for the rest of the season we should be able to avoid the drop.