Wanderers recorded back to back wins with a 1-0 win over Hull City at the Macron on Saturday thanks to yet another superb strike from Gary Madine. Here’s how Gaz and the lads got on individually;
Ben Alnwick - 9
Another extremely solid performance from Alnwick who has now rightfully asserted himself as number one. Keeping back to back clean sheets has been completely down to Alnwick, his reactions and reflexes plated a crucial part in us hanging on to all three points. Ben’s distribution was equally as consistent and his communication with the centre halves was also worth noting. A confident 9.
Mark Little - 8
I really like Mark Little, he's the perfect right back and it all just seems to come so naturally to him. The times of seeing wingers breeze past our former full backs have long gone, each time he was taken on, he assured that he was never beaten and well, what more can you ask. Similarly going forward his long throw in’s and relationship with Ameobi is one which has gelled and really stood out in recent weeks. His attitude towards being thrown straight back in after his nasty facial injury at Sheffield United has to be admired too. Well done Mark, more of the same please, 8.
Reece Burke - 8
Not as influential as he has been previously, yet just as solid. Despite his selection most likely being down to Wheater’s fitness issues, I’d like to see him rotated with both Wheater and Beevers as he's just as good as each of them now. He’s clearly a well-drilled defender with impressive self-discipline and deals with each situation calmly and collectively. Should the injuries be serious enough to keep the two holding midfielders out, his versatility means he could also definitely do a job sitting in front of the back four if necessary. Let’s hope we can keep hold of him for the rest of the season.
Mark Beevers - 8
A very typical Beevers performance, solid, level headed, lots of blocks, lots of clearances, lots of big challenges, just what we like. The defence was tested on numerous occasions on Saturday but Beevers in particular stood strong and took Fraizer Campbell home in his back pocket, 8.
Antonee Robinson - 9
The young lad has completely won me over. I’ve always been a big fan of Andrew Taylor due to his consistency and reliability, but Robinson’s work rate and ability to get up and down that wing effortlessly and contribute equally as impressively at both ends is everything you could ask for in a left back. Robinson’s another who we could really do with keeping hold of, he’s going to be some player in a couple of years, *cough* Marcos Alonso *cough*.
Sammy Ameobi - 7
Sammy was his usual self on Saturday, but evidently slightly off the pace having missed out on the momentum gained at Sheffield United. However, he adapted well and his tricky footwork got us out of several sticky situations, was impossible to push off the ball and made a couple of crucial interceptions when Hull were on the break. I think he’d be better utilised on the left than the right though if I had to be picky, 7.
Darren Pratley - 6
Pratley grows on me week by week and it’s a shame that he was forced off in the first half through injury. Despite my initial reluctance for him to be a regular feature in this Wanderers side, he seems instrumental in the way we play now, especially along side Karl Henry. Let’s hope his injury is nothing too serious and will be back in time for Huddersfield on Saturday.
Karl Henry - 6
Henry was also forced off through injury in the first half but even in those first 12 minutes that he featured him, signs of his usual shithousery and tactical fouls were evident along side some excellent vocal leadership which I hope is recognised by Parky and can eventually be made captain. It’d be a shame if we were without him for Saturday and I just hope the substitution was purely precautionary. Despite only being on the field for ten minutes, the fact he wasn't booked earns him a 6, well done Karl.
Will Buckley - 7
Unfortunately Will didn't see much of the ball and therefore wasn't that instrumental in the win, yet played well in general. As I said earlier, swapping him and Ameobi over on the wings might improve things despite the pairs relationships with their respective full back partners. Happily, the wings are positions which we’re not short of options in and is one that Parky can mess around with until he finds the right formula to improve our wing play as the full backs seem to be considerably more present in those areas at the minute. Nevertheless, well played Will, 7.
Josh Vela - 7
Vela’s intial outright ownership of the number ten role has recently become under scrutiny following Josh Cullen’s impressive re-intoduction to the side and Vela’s periodic disappearance in games. However, his goal against Cardiff and his role as vice-captain in the absence of David Wheater meant he was crucial in the way we played on Saturday. Despite the responsibility handed to him, Vela remained quiet but kept us ticking over as he usually does in the middle. I can't criticise his leadership due to his inexperience in such a role, but he needs to keep playing well to maintain his position in the side, keep it up Josh, 7.
BIG GARY MADINE - 10!
In my time as a writer on here, this is the first time the big man has been awarded a ten so I may as well warrant it myself eh? After a brilliant few games, Gaz’s momentary transformation into Cristiano Ronaldo was the icing on the cake. Having not seen him on free-kick duties before, I’m sure you were all just as shocked as I was when his effortless strike flew into the top corner from 25 yards out. He’s clearly been practising that in training and got it down to a tee so long may it continue.
It wasn’t just his goal that warrants the ten, purely just his consistency, work rate and determination week in week out is really admirable. His intimidating presence when backing into defenders and throwing in an elbow when going up for arial challenges is almost Kevin Davies-esque. I was also hugely impressed by he offloads and knock downs, sweeping the ball across the park like he does it for fun was a real joy to watch and made me forget how miserable it once was to see the ball smashed over his head by Mark Howard week after week.
As he received against Cardiff, I’m sure his performance warranted a standing ovation should he have been brought off late on. However, I’m glad he wasn't as his last ditch goal line clearances and last five role as a centre half was massively influential in denying Hull an equaliser. Gary deserves all the support he’s getting right now and it'll do his confidence the world of good. Keep it up Gaz, we love you. 10.
Josh Cullen - 7
Looked really lively when he came on, really going to push Vela for that number ten role. Cullen is one of the best at keeping the ball on the ground and thats exactly what we need at the minute as well as Madine is doing at the minute, keeping the ball of the ground is the best form of attack we have. It’s good to finally see the Josh Cullen that we were told that we were signing.
Filipe Morais - 6
Didn’t make that much of an impact when he came on but his deliveries from corners and longer free kicks were just as on the money as ever. He could really do with another goal if he's going to remain in contention for a place in the starting line up, 6.
Adam Le Fondre - 6
It’s brilliant to see Alf back in Parky’s plans and the side. Despite on being given the last five minutes to make an impact, he very nearly got us a second goal and proved to Parky that he can do enough off the bench, cleverly turning and then swinging the ball across the face of goal and put it on a plate for Madine which he unfortunately glanced wide.
I would've liked to see Alfie brought on earlier but beggars can't be choosers when you're winning and trying to hold on to a one nil lead. Despite this, I can't stress enough that following the ball out from clearances and pressing for a second in the latter stages of games has to replace throwing ten men behind the ball after the hour mark because we’re setting ourselves up to be disappointed if that continues. To allow us to do this most effectively, Alfie’s fresh legs and attacking threat has to be given it’s fair chance.
There’s now a chance for the players to get some well earned rest, fully recover and offer Parky a near as fully fit squad as possible to choose from on Saturday in our home cup fixture against Huddersfield. COYWM.