Bolton Wanderers took a point away from St Andrews on Tuesday night in a game that one may consider a good litmus test for the Championship. The boys dug in to grind out a result in a game of few chances, with the defence in particular impressing. Here are my player ratings for the Wanderers:
Mark Howard - 7
Howard only really had one save to make in the whole game and it was an outstanding one to deny David Cotterill’s deflected effort before half-time. His distribution was average, as we have come to expect, but that one save was pivotal and earned us a point.
Dorian Dervite - 6
Dervite dealt with the tricky Jacques Maghoma quite well considering his lack of pace. He was given little help by the more attack-minded Filipe Morais so must be commended for not allowing the Birmingham winger to do much damage. His distribution remains woeful however and upon David Wheater’s return to fitness I think he will drop out.
Reece Burke - 8
The West Ham youngster looks a cut above in the Championship and it is clear to see why the Hammers faithful were disappointed to see him loaned out. He is very comfortable on the ball like Rob Holding but his stature allows him to mix it with the likes of Jutkiewicz and Donaldson with ease. He will be pivotal this season.
Mark Beevers - 6
Some may think this is harsh on Beevers but he allowed Donaldson to get away from him a few times and wasn’t at his best. He is still our most consistent player and we needn’t worry about him but when Burke plays alongside him the class difference is very obvious.
Filipe Morais - 6
We’ve missed having him as an out-ball but as against Daniel Lafferty at Sheffield United last season, Morais struggled against Jonathan Grounds at St Andrews i.e. a better class of full-back. I have no doubt he will be a threat in this league but we cannot expect him to be as potent as in League 1.
Andrew Taylor - 7
I didn’t notice anything bad about his performance which means he did well. Going forward he isn’t as good but he isn’t supposed to be. I would still like to see Antonee Robinson given his chance over Taylor but for now the former Wigan man is doing enough to justify his selection.
Darren Pratley - 5
I like Pratley and I want him to do well because of how hard he works but there simply is no comparison between him and the missing Josh Vela. The skipper was very poor on the ball and while he won his fair share of tackles and aerial duels the way he slowed down attacks hindered us greatly. Please come back soon, Josh!
Jem Karacan - 7
This was much improved from Karacan as he was better on the ball than against Millwall and Leeds. He added some attacking impetus and, as usual, shirked no challenges. If we get a full season out of him we will see his true worth I’m certain.
Josh Cullen - 7
The other West Ham loanee impressed me. He isn’t heaven-sent as some people thought he might be but he is very confident on the ball and rarely misplaces a pass. At times he looks like he is one step ahead of his teammates and it obviously frustrated him at times. I look forward to watching him develop.
Gary Madine - 7
He did what he always does: work tirelessly for lost causes. He had a great chances to win it for us with a header and it took a great Stockdale save to deny him but I think we need him to stay fit if we are going to survive. Some might argue that he makes us one dimensional but his ability on the deck is just as good as his aerial play. The problem stems from his strike partners not making the right runs when he wins the ball. Maybe they need time to gel?
Adam Armstrong - 7
I’m glad he started and he is certainly a different prospect to ALF with his pace. However he had two good chances and missed both. I’m not sure ALF would have missed them and that’s why I think the former Reading man should be our main striker.
Adam Le Fondre - 6
Worked hard like Armstrong but had no chances. Made poor decision with his runs similar to what happened against Leeds. Madine and ALF need to work on their cohesion.
Aaron Wilbraham n/a
Not enough time to compare him to Madine but the one header he did win went miles away from any Whites player. Doesn’t look great.