I’ll admit it, I was hugely disappointed when I saw the team sheet for this game and fully expected us to lose. The reversion to 3-5-2 seemed like a crazy decision against a team with very strong wingers and, despite the sale of Gary Madine, Adam Le Fondre remained on the bench. I had similar thoughts in the lead up to our away game against Sheffield United and, once again, Parky proved me wrong.
What we saw was a performance of not only quality but also of huge passion and desire to get a win, something that we have to keep up to be safe in this league. Lee Johnson conceded that we deserved the win and all the credit: I couldn’t have said it better myself! The lads were magnificent and here are my player ratings:
Ben Alnwick 7
He had one save to make and he made it to deny the dangerous Famara Diedhiou in style. Some may argue that he could have given away a penalty early on for a clash with Bobby Reid but it wasn’t given so I cannot complain. He did look a bit shaky under crosses, unsure whether to come and collect them or stay on his line, but towards the end he improved hugely and remained composed to see us through the barrage of Bristol attacks.
Dorian Dervite 7
I couldn’t help but be impressed by Dervite having not seen him personally since the away game against Birmingham in August. He contended very well with both Reid and Kent and other than an unnecessary foul right at the end which gave Bristol a very dangerous free-kick he was very solid. Long may this continue.
David Wheater 8
When we need him to perform he does so and last night he can only be described as a colossus. Wheater cares and this attribute is what makes him a good defender. He puts his body on the line, he wins everything in the air and his goal line clearance to deny Reid an open goal tap in (although on second view it appears to be a combination of him and Dervite) showed great reactions and instinct. Well done, Wheats!
Mark Beevers 7
Beevers had a shaky opening few minutes but recovered greatly to put in one of his best displays of the season. We all know his strengths are heading and reading the game and Bristol played to those strengths, lumping the ball up to Diedhiou for Beevers to out-jump him and playing balls in behind where he was one step ahead to clear. As a unit these three worked well and while I don’t like this formation they seem to have a good understanding.
Mark Little 7
His first half-showing was reminiscent of his Cafu-esque performance against Barnsley. He was direct, pacy and strong, acting almost like a wide target man at times. He faded somewhat in the second period, being replaced by Fil Morais, but had run himself into the ground against his former club, making them wish they still had his services.
Antonee Robinson 8
This lad gets better every time I see him. His directness and pace were a joy to watch at times but what was more impressive (and touched upon by Marc Iles in his report on the game) was his link-up passing with both Ameobi and Tyler Walker. Out of all our loanees he is my favourite and we are very fortunate that Everton can’t recall him. His back-heeled flick for Ameobi for the goal was a stroke of genius too.
Karl Henry 6.5
He did his job well enough and we know what we are going to get from him. I was slightly disappointed, however, with his unwillingness to play the ball in any other direction than the one he was facing and stunted our attacks at times. It’s only a minor gripe but given we now have to be able to play the ball on the floor more often it could become a major hindrance, especially when compared with the one-touch play demonstrated by Bristol.
Derik Osede 6
I’m a big fan of his but last night his main asset (passing) let him down. In the first half I lost count of the over-hit, under-hit and downright wayward passes I saw from Derik and to stay in the side this needs serious attention. He improved somewhat in the second period, using his reading of the game to make some crucial interceptions but he was clearly the poorest Wanderers performer on the night.
Josh Vela 7
He also had a poor first half, in keeping with some lacklustre showings of late, but improved greatly as the game went on, showing great desire and energy. He put pressure on Bristol’s backline and midfield to force errors and this was incredibly useful when we were trying to protect our lead. I’m glad he is still our player and deserves to keep his place.
Sammy Ameobi 9
My word what a performance from Sammy. Recently he has been flitting in an out of games. Before a ball was kicked I for one wanted him to be dropped but, as we know, when he’s on song he’s unplayable and thankfully he decided to have one of those games last night. His goal was brilliant with him displaying pace, power and accuracy but had he scored after his mesmerising run in the first half where he carried the ball 60 yards and beat 3 players in quick succession before curling just wide we’d be talking about goal of the season for sure. Take a bow, son.
Tyler Walker 7
I was impressed by our new signing as he showed pace, desire and promise. He had a decent effort saved by Luke Steele and despite playing against two very strong centre-halves in Aden Flint and Bailey Wright he won his fair share of aerial duels. He’s one to watch.
Zach Clough 7
I’ve made it no secret that I still have a grudge against this lad. He may well have “saved the club” by going to Notts Forest last January but frankly all I saw was a kid who ditched his boyhood club by making a sideways step that can only have been money orientated. I may be wrong (I hope I’m wrong) but I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon as easily as some. Having said my piece I will concede that he played his part well last night though he did miss a glorious chance to seal victory. He has his uses and will, I’m sure, help us in our survival bid despite my resentment.
Filipe Morais 6.5
He helped us out by replacing a tiring Little and played a big part in setting up Clough’s big chance. He’s improved recently and will continue to be useful.
Special Mention: Phil Parkinson 10
I’ve already stated my concession that I was wrong to doubt Parky’s tactics. I should have learnt my lesson from Sheffield United and I did not, believing I knew better. I can only apologise and express my pride having watched that game and that performance. I did say beforehand that I have faith in Parky despite all that has gone before, and I allowed that faith to disappear yesterday. In Parky we trust and I’m sure he will lead us to survival. COYWM