Bolton Wanderers’ wait for a win at Pride Park will go on into its 38th year but they may be forced to wait even longer if they don’t shape up soon. Relegation is now becoming less a possibility and more an inevitability at this rate with Wanderers now having lost 3 on the bounce and their 6-point advantage over the Bottom 3 has been whittled down to 2. Though few expected Bolton to take anything home from Derby, the performance the travelling support were treated to was nothing short of unacceptable. Here’s a more in-depth look at Wanderers’ players’ failings:
Ben Alnwick 5.5
A strange day for our No.1 as he made a couple of very good saves yet was probably at fault for 2 of Derby’s 3 goals. He denied David Nugent from point-blank range inside the first 2 minutes but could possibly have done better with the striker’s effort that fell to Matej Vydra’s feet to score the Ram’s second goal. I also feel he could have saved Tom Lawrence’s drive that killed the game at 3-0 as the ball appeared to go under his arms. I may be being harsh but he has set such high standards this season we expect him to save these chances. Wanderers were coming back into the game before the third goal and had Alnwick saved the shot it could have been more of a contest.
Mark Little 6
I thought he did well on his return to the team and certainly is my pick for the right-back slot over Jon Flanagan. He was purposeful in attack and in the second-half was back linking up with Sammy Ameobi. I think this combination is a huge asset to Wanderers and it’s no coincidence Sammy’s form has dipped in Little’s absence. He is key to getting the best out of our star man and his pace has been sorely missed at full-back. Nevertheless, he can’t merit more than a 6 because he was part of a defence that conceded 3 goals.
Reece Burke 4
He had a mare and was withdrawn at half-time deservedly. Alnwick’s early save from Nugent was brought about by a mental pass from the West Ham Loanee that had Wanderers on the back foot. I have always been a fan of Burkes but on a day where he should have been the defender most suited to dealing with Derby’s mobile attack he looked totally out of his depth.
David Wheater 5
He doesn’t deal well with pace but deserves to be starting games regardless of whether we are forced to pay him £50,000 to do so; we need him. He was bound to be caught out at times by the pace of Vydra though in the main he dealt with him well. He gets a 5 rating however because I can’t understand how a defence containing Wheater and Beevers could concede so easily from a corner. It was unacceptable.
Mark Beevers 4.5
I understand that he is limited and therefore has no other way of passing than to hoof the ball, but he wasn’t helped by the fact Parkinson had given him Aaron Wilbraham to aim at. We are never going to coach Beevers out of this annoying habit if we put a useless target man up front so while he played badly I think Parky has to shoulder some of the blame for this. It was noticeable that he improved drastically in the second-half when Wilbraham came off because he was encouraged to pass the ball on the floor more often. It’s not rocket science.
Antonee Robinson 6.5
He may have conceded 3 goals, but I am so pleased to see Robbo back. He wasn’t fantastic defensively and his final ball in the attack was hit-and-miss, but his pace and skill are great to watch and Andre Wisdom will still be having nightmares about him. Andrew Taylor may be the better defender but if we are to stay up Robinson will be key and should be the first name on the team-sheet in these final 5 games.
Karl Henry 6
He looked off the pace as a result of his hamstring injury but was by far our best midfielder. He showed calmness in possession and crunched into tackles, showing that he cared for the cause which is all I ask. Yes, Tom Huddlestone and Joe Ledley ran the midfield, but they weren’t Henry’s responsibility. What he had to do he did to the best of his ability and at 35 he can’t be expected to keep up with these players on his own.
Jem Karacan 4
He was rubbish. He didn’t win any challenges, he could hardly pass the ball and spent the entire match pointing at people he should have been marking rather than marking them. He has the ability to be a key player, as he showed against Sunderland, but too often this season he has been anonymous.
Josh Vela 5
He worked hard and improved as the game wore on but for a player with his ability it frustrates me that he can’t take control of games the way Huddlestone did for Derby. He disappears in a 3-man midfield and is unable to make an impact but, frankly, all season Vela has fit this description regardless of the formation. He has been a huge disappointment all year.
Adam Le Fondre 6
He worked hard, as ever, but didn’t have a sniff of goal all game. He needs service and received none, even when Ameobi came on. I am convinced that he can score the goals to keep us up, but he must be hugely frustrated at the moment.
Aaron Wilbraham 4
He didn’t win any headers, he didn’t make a telling pass and he was hauled off at half-time. He needs to retire.
Sammy Ameobi 6.5
Sammy is our most threatening player and should always start. He took the game to Derby and was unlucky to hit the post with a thunderous effort from inside the box. His link-play with Little was good and hopefully he will be able to reproduce this kind of performance in our final 5 games as without him on song we surely will be relegated.
Craig Noone 6
Had a decent chance blocked at the far post and looked positive. If we revert to playing 2 wingers I think he deserves a shot over Will Buckley.
Derik Osede N/A
He didn’t do anything and only came on to ensure Henry didn’t tear his hamstring I’m sure.