Here’s how Bolton Wanderers got on in our thoroughly deserved recent home victory over Aston Villa.
Ben Alnwick - 9
My joint man of the match. Ben has been a man on a mission recently in terms of keeping us in either the lead, the driving seat or the match itself if we’re behind. Having beaten Mark Howard outright to a spot between the posts on a weekly basis, Alnwick has never failed to impress and continued his good form with a clean sheet and making some crucial last ditch saves earning him a 9, keep it up Ben, excellent.
Jon Flanagan - 8
I’m sure I wont be alone in admitting that Jon Flanagan has proved us wrong. Despite a rather unexpected and questionable last minute loan arrival on transfer deadline day, since pulling on the white shirt, Flanagan has battled tirelessly to make that right back spot his own and has succeeded in recent weeks in keeping Mark Little at bay, and deservedly so. I must give his breathtaking goal line clearance a mention in the last action of the game as he alone, prevented the loss of two points which would’ve been agonising to drop. Well done Jon.
Reece Burke - 7.5
Solid as ever and whilst covering for David Wheater who appears to be struggling for fitness, especially as we enter a particularly demanding segment in the season, Reece has done excellently along side Mark Beevers to re-earn themselves a place in the team and in saving us from conceding numerous extra goals. A standard performance all in all then, standard but solid, well done Reece, 7.5.
Mark Beevers - 7.5
Similarly solid at the back on Saturday against an extremely threatening attacking Villa side. Mr. Consistent at the minute, keep it up Mark, 7.5.
Andrew Taylor - 7
Despite committing himself a challenge which could’ve quite easily seen us rescinded to ten unnecessarily, Taylor was once again his usual calm and composed self at full back. It was a difficult game for Taylor but kept his head and his contribution to the win was just as valuable as any other team member, well done Andy, 7.
Karl Henry - 8
A majestic performance from Mr. Henry, both in terms of his leadership, defensive capability and unique skill of some quite brilliant shithousery. Standing over free-kicks, kicking the ball away, standing on his opponents toes and squaring up to one Robert Snodgrass were all just part of another day at the office in the life of Karl Henry and boy, is it a joy to watch. He’s just the sort of player any team’s supporters want in their side. The acuter, selfless and improvisational elements of Henry’s game earns him the title of being one of our most valuable assets in the team at present and is just the right sort of player for this league. The fight, passion, determination and experience is something which only Henry offers in this team and following in the footsteps of Jay Spearing, it’s a personality-filled role which we would really struggle without in seasons to come. Can we keep him for another year? 8.
Derik - 7
Another consistent performance from Derik and one in which the conditions wont be ones that he’s been previously used to. Regardless, Derik did his thing and refused let the snow affect him and was just as committed to winning that game as any other player. This isn’t a dig or referring to him as inferior to the lads who’ve played in sub-zero temperatures prior to Saturday night, if anything it’s a compliment given that he was so unfazed by both the weather and the strong Villa side whom he faced, most of which he took home in his pocket, well done Dez, 7.
Will Buckley - 8
By far one of our most improved players as the season has progressed and he showed a side to his game which Wanderers fans haven’t had the opportunity to witness as of yet and it was one which came as a surprise, yet was equally as impressive. Beating his man on nearly every occasion and his strength on the ball were all extremely impressive traits which he boasted on Saturday and should be enough to retain his place in the side for the run in, 8.
Darren Pratley - 6
Despite an encouraging start, Pratley was once again forced off mid-way through the first half due to injury on Saturday which could see him restricted to the sidelines for the rest of the seasons unless we’re told otherwise. However, without being ignorant, this may also come as a blessing in disguise as Parky’s loyalty to Pratz has meant that neither Zach Clough or Josh Vela have really had a look in of recent and this injury will provide one or both of them with the opportunity to return to the side and make that number ten spot their own in the run-in. It’s a shame about Pratley and having gained some momentum in performing well consistently, he’ll be a big loss and I hope its not the last we’ll see of him this season. Time to step up Zach and Josh.
Sammy Ameobi - 7
Sammy’s presence and unique ability with the ball is one which cant be replicated, but is perhaps one that can be rested. His performances of late have been decidedly average and despite a good performance on Saturday, the general increase in performances across the squad meant that Ameobi’s performance was distinguished as one of many who impressed to an extent. Don’t get me wrong, I like Sammy and despite his record for performing in front of the camera’s and in big games, its time we gave the likes of Morais and Noone more of a chance down that right flank, especially whilst Ameobi’s wing man Little is also struggling to break back in to the team, nevertheless, good job Sammy, 7.
Adam Le Fondre - 9
The bags-man was back at it again on Saturday with a typical poachers goal and one which you’d back Alfie to put away a hundred times out of a hundred and so he did. Having insisted myself that Le Fondre deserved more time and a chance to redeem himself and get back in to the limelight I’m buzzing for him that he’s finding some form now and is earning his keep. His work-rate on Saturday was just phenomenal, giving John Terry no time on the ball whatsoever and had the beating of him every time. A man of the match worthy performance from the both clinical and prolific number 9. We love you Alfie. Ole Ole!
Josh Vela - 7
Worked hard when he came on and helped keep up the momentum and integrated well with the rest of the team despite not starting and a premature introduction with little preparation. Presume he will be favoured to start from now on in, we’re behind you Josh, 7.
Antonee Robinson - N/A
Wasn’t given enough time to obtain a rating but played well nevertheless, his introduction helped solidify things defensively and helped to kill the game stone dead allowing Villa no way through. A special mention also goes to Robbo who’s earned himself an International call-up for the USA, well deserved ‘Jedi’!
Leeds away is up next on Good Friday when Phil Parkinson’s men will hope to continue their good run of form and inch ever closer to finalising safety in the Championship.