Derby games more often than not offer up a fiery encounter that gets both sets of fans off their seats and Saturday was no exception. A game that would certainly excite the neutrals, you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise after a tragic first 20 minutes that saw the Whites 2-0 down with sloppy play and poor decision making the cause of their troubles. A resurgent Bolton, quite unlike what you’d see last season though, fought back from that early horror show and could honestly count themselves unlucky to not walk away with the 3 points. Considering though this is the first time since March 2016 that Wanderers have fought back from being 2 goals down in the Championship to claim a point, we’ll take it happily as our surprisingly strong start to the season continues. But who were the major players in both the fall and the rise.
Here are my Player Ratings:
Ben Alnwick: 6.5
Making a horrendous decision to race out to Robinson and commit low to try and stop him instead of making himself big and staying on his feet, he was a major factor in the first goal going in. However, other than that noticeable blemish on his copybook, Ben was once again Mr. Reliable in goal. Better keepers than him would’ve been beaten by Browne’s wonder volley so you can’t hold it against him. He was unafraid to come out and command his area, making great catches and another great safe in the corner from Robinson later in the game. Work on that distribution though Ben, Still a bit wayward at times.
Pawel Olkowski: 8.0
I love this man so much. He brings so much energy and calmness on that right side and is not scared of being afraid to commit to a dribble. This can work to his detriment and I would say is his one weakness that he can push up too high at points but when he is defending, he makes himself big and tough to get past. Apparently, it was his first goal since 2014 as well. Could’ve fooled me with that striker-esque finish. A constant threat down the right hand side, you have to question how we ever signed this wonderful Polish Gem.
David Wheater: 7.0
Not really at fault for either of the goals but can’t really give him much higher for being beaten twice. Outside of the horror show I talked about earlier though, Wheater demonstrated why he’s captain, being strong in the tackle and commanding the area around his box with authority, winning headers easily and making himself difficult to get past even facing the pacy Robinson.
Mark Beevers: 6.5
Him and Wheater just go in sync. They play off each other so well and are both good at doing the exact same things as each other. Though they’re both suspect to pacy strikers, their big figures and smart positional sense often made up for it, putting in the same commanding challenges on the ground and in the air. Again though, can’t give higher due to conceding twice. Work on that long ball though, please. Painful at points.
Andy Taylor: 6.5
Did a lot of things right before being forced off in the 2nd half. I hope it’s not too serious as Taylor is really starting to look like his old reliable self from League One. Still struggles with pacier players but again has boundless energy and good positional sense to make up for it. Also provided a lot of support up the wing, putting in cross after cross. Antonee who?
Jason Lowe: 6.0
More like the steady Eddie we’ve seen previously but still not back to his West Brom best. Guilty of a few bad passes and being a bit weak in the challenge. A case for saying he should have been stronger trying to stop Browne before the turn happened as well. Outside of that, provided the extra protection for the back four, made himself available in the middle regularly and nearly had a rare goal for his efforts.
Gary O’Neil: 7.0
Whatever Gary O’Neil is doing to keep delaying the process of aging, he needs to do more of it. I swear he’s still running as we speak. Showing the limitless running that belies the normal player his age, Gary made himself a nuisance to the Preston midfield and is quickly showing why me be worth keeping beyond his current January deal. Calm on the ball as well, long may this Gary O’Neil continue.
Joe Williams: 7.5
Speaking of nuisances, that’s exactly what Joe Williams should himself to be to the Preston midfield. Appearing here, there and everywhere just to piss off Ben Pearson, it was wonderful to see Williams battle for every 50/50 and shrug off every challenger who dared try to take the ball from him. Very Karl Henry. Love it. A lot better on the ball though (Still love you Karl) and proved a big frustration for Preston, culminating in Pearson headbutting him, shrugging it off and taunting the rest of the Preston squad. He’s going to be very popular with us. I can tell.
Sammy Ameobi: 7.5
My god, the nuisances continue. There is genuinely no one like Sammy on his day and he’s proving to be on his day more often than not so far this season. Beating the Preston left side and middle with relative ease, he’s proving to be a lot more sensible on the ball, passing when he needs to, crossing more often and cutting in when he needs to. Admittedly fortunate that Rudd is terrible at everything regarding goalkeeping and should’ve handily stopped his goal but you never know unless you try and Sammy is unafraid to try and deservedly opened his account for the season. Looks the fittest he ever has as well.
Yanic Wildschut: 5.0
What’s with both our left wingers looking a bit hapless when they start but looking incredible when they come off the bench? Both Buckley and Yanic seem to be victims of this bizarre curse as Yanic had an awful game. His dreadful misplaced pass led to the first goal and his heavy touch prevented what should’ve been a guaranteed 3rd goal for us. He’s also a bit slow to get back. His pace still threatened and had a couple good runs and dribbles and did help Taylor well on occasion but still a bad day at the office for Yanic. Rightfully the first one off.
Josh Magennis: 6.5
As has been per usual, strong in the air, provided good cover and running all around the park and unfortunate to have a certain goal stopped at the last second by Davies. I have to say though, I’ve noticed that his headed flick ons for us are almost always off the mark. Granted it’s not very easy to get this art correct regularly but it’s a cheap way we keep losing possession that he needs to work on. Other than that, made himself difficult to deal with and provides the team with a lot of space to work with.
Craig Noone: 6.0
Used his time well to run everywhere across the front line and fought to try and get forward well. Had trouble getting up as quick as he’d like and a couple of his crosses missed the mark but his energy is always an asset off the bench.
Jonathan Grounds: 6.0
Recovered well from his horror show against Sheffield United to fill the gap vacated by the injured Taylor seamlessly. Like for like with Taylor, did the simple stuff well and made a crucial tackle late in the 2nd half to prevent Preston sneaking an undeserved winner.