Finally, the football is back... Here is how our lads fared.
Mark Howard – 6
Can’t blame him solely for any of the goals, he could maybe have pulled something special out the bag for Chris Wood’s goal but I don’t think he’s capable of that. Distribution seemed okay. An average performance by an average keeper.
Andrew Taylor – 5
Was caught out a number of times in the first half down his side allowing Phillips and co to pump the ball into the Wanderers box which can’t be allowed to happen with top strikers like Wood lurking. He did do much better in the second half and was an outlet down the left wing. Hopefully, with full match fitness, he won’t look too out of place but you have to question whether Taylor has enough about him athletically for this league.
Mark Beevers – 6
I don’t think Beevers can be blamed for any of the goals, he was solid throughout as usual and won most aerial battles. I still don’t think this 352 systems suits having three big heffers at the back but it certainly wouldn’t be Beevers I’d replace.
David Wheater – 6
Again like Beevers, captain Wheats did what he does best, won headers and tackled tough. I think Wheater always has a slow start to the season and looks off the pace when he’s not fully match fit but with regular games that will naturally build and he’ll look as comfortable as last season. Wheater is our best defender when he’s fully fit so I hope to God this injury isn’t a sign that he’s going to have another season blighted by injuries.
Dorian Dervite – 5
I don’t want to be too critical after the first game of the season but this lad should never have been given a new contract. Was partly at fault for Wood’s goal and didn’t look comfortable all game. But he never did in the league below either so what do you expect?
Stephen Darby – 5
Not a good debut for the ex-Liverpool man. Looked out of his depth especially with the ball at his feet. His crossing was terrible and his marking not much better for the Wood goal. It wasn’t for the want of trying but Darby will want to forget his first game in a white shirt.
Josh Vela – 7
Right from the off Vela looked up for it and showed that with a crunching tackle for the sky cameras early on. Josh never stopped running and the pressure he put on the Leeds defenders helped take the pressure off ours by either winning the ball back or forcing errors. His corner for our first goal was beautiful, looping the ball over the keeper without him catching it but still keeping it within the six-yard box is a very difficult skill and so hard to defend against as it showed with Madine heading into an empty goal. Gutted that he had to come off and even more gutted’er that it’s looking as though he’ll be out for months. Anyone know what Spearing’s up too?
Jem Karacan – 5
Jem looked off the pace with his tackling and was caught out by Phillips’ first goal as he failed to track the young wingers run to the front of the pack. In his effort to block the shot the ball ricocheted off him helping it on its way into Wanderers net, this summed up his day. Like Darby, the effort was there but the display was poor. He Kara can play better than that and I look forward to him putting it right in the next game.
Josh Cullen – 6
Cullen looked good in spells and looks to have that bit of finesse about him. Mark Davies v2.0? It took him a while to grow into the game after a few misplaced passes at the start but he got me excited when he had the ball at his feet. I don’t think he suited the deeper midfield role and may well benefit from Vela’s absence depending on who Parky chooses to replace him in attacking midfield.
Adam Le Fondre – 7
ALF is a goalscorer, so at times when we were up against it last season and the supply wasn’t there he didn’t offer much else to the side, Sunday was totally opposite. He challenged for every header and chased every loose ball and flick on. Le Fondre proved he can be useful even when Wanderers don’t have control of the game and I think that may be down to ALF having a full pre-season under his belt. I never doubted that he would score the penalty and it’s brilliant that he’s off the mark for the new season.
Gary Madine – 8
I have to admit that I have been one to slag Madine off in the past, but I think when I have it has been deserved, just as now I am going to deservedly sing his praises. He was absolutely brilliant against Leeds. Every single hoof up he won, and sometimes intelligently brought it down and brought others into play. Big Gaz bullied the Leeds defenders and deservedly got on the scoresheet. Also if some mongy Leeds fans are to be believed, he managed to trick everyone but them into thinking his shirt was being pulled when in fact he just took it off himself. Obviously not. I haven’t seen a dominant performance like that from him before and if he can keep it up he could be a very useful tool for us this season. Everything was there from Madine on Sunday and if he’s willing to continue like that, I’ll be very happy to keep behind him.
Reece Burke - 7
Looked calm and collected when he came on for the injured Wheater. Burke looked confident with the ball at his feet and his passing was decent too. I can see why West Ham fans wanted to keep him at the club this season and for me, it is an absolute no brainer that he replaces Dervite, providing Wheater’s injury isn’t too bad.
Will Buckley – 6
Tried to make things happen late in the game, looked a bit rusty but that’s expected at this stage of the season. He will be the main candidate to replace Vela in midfield.
Adam Armstrong – NA
Looked very quick but didn’t have enough time to make his mark on the game.