In a match billed as the most important for Wanderers since the Macron Miracle against Nottingham Forest, Phil Parkinson officially lost the fans. The performance wasn’t great but we have seen worse this season. That wasn’t the main gripe. What stuck in the craw of the poor souls who braved the ice and snow was the managers decision, in such a vital game at 0-0 when Wanderers were on top, to take off the only positive player on the night.
The substitution of Luca Connell, whose performance I will discuss later, was suicidal. I understood his reasoning, I’m sure deep down we all did, but it was insane. In a team so desperately lacking in quality, to take off the one player who looked capable of ensuring a result, especially a homegrown player, ensured that Parky’s relationship with the fans is now impossible to reconcile.
Jack Hobbs’ equalising goal could well have saved his manager’s job and, possibly, in the long run could be crucial to our survival chances.
Without further ado, here are my player ratings:
Remi Matthews 6.5
Looked comfortable with every save he had to make, some of which were very useful. He wasn’t as good with the ball at his feet as I remember and also dawdled with the ball in hand instead of starting counter attacks. In fairness he was massively short of options to aim at so maybe it’s a chicken and egg problem. Pleased to have him back though.
Pawel Olkowski 6
He had his moments but yet again I expect so much more from him. The penalty might have only come about due to some poor defending, but I can’t hold it against him too much as McCleary slipped and the referee made a scandalous decision. However, it’s Mark Little time in my opinion because Pawel has lost all his confidence.
Jack Hobbs 6.5
Other than his goal I remember very little of his performance. I don’t remember any mistakes and I assume he played alright because we only conceded one goal. This is a common theme with our centre-halves because, the Hull game aside, we don’t concede that many goals. The way we are set up allows the centre-backs to have a pretty easy ride because they aren’t tested too much. In that sense Hobbs did what he had to do because Reading weren’t allowed to test him too often.
David Wheater 6.5
See above minus the goal and add in the fact he went on a mazy run that ended with Ameobi having a decent shot at goal. Played through the pain barrier as well so deserves credit for that.
Andrew Taylor 6
A nothing performance from Taylor where he was steady but uninspiring. Aluko got the better of him on occasion but not so often that he could cause damage. I don’t think we can do much better than him at the moment.
Jason Lowe 5
Poor, can’t pass forwards, didn’t win his tackles but it isn’t his fault. He’s clearly just not a good footballer who’s been told he will start every game regardless of that fact. That he is out-run by Gary O’Neill is a disgrace, the fact he is outclassed by him shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Luca Connell 7.5
Here we go. I was fully prepared to be disappointed given how much this lad has been talked up all week, but my word he’s a talent. I’m not one to gush over players but when a 17-year-old is the most confident player on the pitch by miles, plays raking passes with ease and takes on half-volleys from 30 yards and almost scores without a second thought you can’t help but be impressed. He started to tire before being withdrawn, sure, but he was the only one I thought could change the game. If we keep him by some miracle in the coming days, he has to start every game. No questions asked.
Gary O’Neill 7
Well played, Old Man! My word he puts in a shift. He certainly tired towards the end but not so much that it was detrimental. He is good on the ball, wins tackles and has surprisingly quick feet. In the absence of Joe Williams, I reckon he should always start though I’d like to see him partnered with Vela in a holding role. He shouldn’t be the attacking midfielder in my opinion.
Sammy Ameobi 7
He was good at times, anonymous at others. When he gets the ball you feel like something will happen but too often he lets you down. Nobody in the squad can beat a man as easily as Sammy and the cross for the goal was fantastic. Better performance than in recent weeks for sure but I want to see more.
Craig Noone 4
Useless. Any ability I deluded myself into thinking Noone had clearly never existed. At one point he got in behind the defence and looked utterly petrified and chipped the ball delicately into Emiliano Martinez’ arms rather than shoot or cross. Useless. Again. Please Parky play literally anyone else!
Clayton Donaldson 4
I get why Parky plays him over Magennis: he is quicker and has much better pedigree. However, he has proven time and again he hasn’t got that pedigree anymore. At one point he attempted a one-two with Ameobi and fell over, spooning the ball 90 degrees into the air rather than pass it to his teammate. Magennis must wonder why he hasn’t been starting. A full 90 minutes against that Reading defence and I think he would have scored.
Joe Pritchard 6
Good to see him get on and he tackled well. Clearly another talent.
Will Buckley N/A
Didn’t do anything but I’d play him over Noone for sure.
Josh Magennis N/A
Don’t remember him doing much but should have started.