Once again, we played Rochdale and once again, no win to show for it. If there was ever a time for it, it was on Saturday but alas, it wasn’t to be. A younger looking starting XI took to the pitch and certainly made a good enough account of themselves. Then after our goal, it all just seemed to go. It’s a kick to the gut but we’ll go again soon but for now, let’s focus on the Rochdale game. Who put on a good showing and did any youngsters stake their claim for a starting place in the future?
Let’s get into the Player Ratings:
Remi Matthews - 6.0
I probably should give a keeper lower than 6 for conceding 3 goals but none of them were his fault and for most of the game, he didn’t have too much significant to do. A couple easy saves and some solid clearances when passed the ball by back line. Luck just not on his side for the 1st and 3rd goals. Possible case for him making a better stretch to stop the 2nd but that would be harsh considering the poor defending leading to that goal. Overall, he was fine but unfortunate.
Josh Emmanuel - 5.5
As we’ve seen from Emmanuel he’s not afraid to get forward and he made some good passes and runs with his teammates to get the ball moving forward. Left a little isolated at times when getting forward but held onto the ball well when waiting for his teammates. Also got back quickly every time Rochdale hit us on the counter. His defending itself however was a bit suspect, notably his dealing with Rathbone for the 2nd, letting the winger get past way too easily. Won’t mark too bad though because he also defended smartly, playing the offside trap after Chicksen’s slip let them through.
Adam Senior - 5.5
Not quite the sterling performance like against Bradford. He has good awareness and passing for an 17 year old and that proved useful going forward. He also wasn’t afraid to get stuck in to challenges and physical battles when need be. However, his inexperience and smaller size told in this match. Henderson always proved a foe and the introduction of Wilbraham proved even bigger a task to deal with. Mainly, it told when Rathbone ran through for his goal and Senior stood significantly off him instead of closing in to try and halt his run. A learning experience.
Yoan Zouma - 5.0
There is definitely a player in Zouma. His speed, tough tackling, strong aerial presence and passing are all great signs for a good defender in the modern game. He proved some of those traits in the 1st half of the match. But my god, his naivety and clumsy moments/decisions are always going to hold him back if he doesn’t work hard to iron them out. I can’t have a go at him for the 1st goal. Deflections happen and that was just unlucky. But attempting to dribble past a forward with one of his teammates in close proximity when you have a clear pass to your full back available is silly. Hope he continues to grow and learn from his mistakes but at 21, he’ll have to do it sooner rather than later if he wants to stay in this team when more cooler heads return.
Adam Chicksen - 6.5
He’s quite a good passer isn’t he. I’ve been quite impressed with Chicksen since he’s come in and while today wasn’t one of his better games, he still put in a fine performance. He links up really well with Verlinden on that left-hand side and provides calm support for Verlinden, making himself always available. He’s also pretty decent in the air too and is noticeably getting fitter. Perhaps still some questions over his defending itself as a couple times he was beaten by the wingers but he never let up and those smaller errors never lead to anything serious so overall an alright display.
Jason Lowe - 6.5
The man reborn was in good form again as he had the unenviable task of replacing Liam Bridcutt in the hole as the man in charge. While he’s no Bridcutt, he did a solid enough job, providing some good interceptions, passes and physical challenges as Rochdale attempted to hit us on the counter. Some questions over his marking of Camps for the first goal but the end result of the goal ending up in the net means I can’t be too harsh with him. Lowe continues his good vein of form overall, even if not to the levels of previous matches.
Dennis Politic - 6.0
Dennis has really started to put in some good shifts helping out Emmanuel in defence and it’s good to see that the work in training improving stamina and endurance is bearing fruit for Politic. His game though is primarily going forward and once again, Politic struggled against a tough opponent in Norrington-Davies. While he never lost the ball in a serious situation, he also couldn’t get past the players many times to do what he does best. Quiet game before being hooked at half-time.
Sonny Graham - 5.5
Am I alone in thinking that Graham didn’t have very much impact on the game? Some of his passing was fine but there was also some sloppiness. He put in a shift but also didn’t get much joy from his efforts. I wouldn’t say the game passed him by but I just can’t seem to recall him doing much of note. Not a criticism of the lad but just not his day perhaps. Hope he recovers soon from rolling his ankle.
Ali Crawford - 5.5
Similar to Graham, largely anonymous during the game save for his set-pieces. His game relies on him being allowed a bit of space to pick out some smart passes but Rochdale’s tight marking meant he was very restricted in what he could do what he does best. Not a memorable day for Ali this time around against Rochdale.
Thibaud Verlinden - 6.5
Before I get into my positives, I have to say that while Verlinden is undoubtedly a very talented player, he also winds me up with his over-playing, taking one too many step-overs or not releasing the ball to a teammate who is in a better position to carry or cross the ball in the danger area. His decision making will get better with experience but I just had to get that off my chest. Regarding the game itself, he proved a menace with his runs and dribbling and moved very well to get on the end of Dodoo’s cross for the goal. His crossing needs some work though. Good game though overall and I hope this talk of tweaking his groin during the game isn’t anything serious.
Daryl Murphy - 6.0
Should’ve had a goal if not for an excellent block by Rochdale. He still had presence in the air and took some smart touches to try and get his teammates through on goal and himself as well on one occasion. Overall though, the tight marking by Rochdale meant that he was well marshalled for a lot of game and restricted in what he could do. I’m also not convinced he’s fully match fit either as he seemed to be a bit laboured in the 2nd half but maybe that’s just me. Still no goal yet for our newest veteran striker though.
Joe Dodoo - 6.5
Supported Emmanuel as best as he could in defence and provided a bit of trouble on the wing with his movement and passes. The moment itself though was the lovely turn and nutmeg of Norrington-Davies coupled with the lovely weighted cross for Verlinden’s goal. Proving a solid impact player. Let’s see if he can do the same when he starts.
Luke Murphy - 6.0
Replacing Graham, Murphy hasn’t endeared himself to the fans this season but I don’t recall him doing anything horribly wrong like we’ve seen in previous games this season. Possibly should’ve scored a consolation goal at the death but that’s ultimately irrelevant. Average day for Murphy.
Chris O’Grady - N/A
Nice to see him fit. Didn’t really have much chance to show Bolton fans what he can do though.