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Player Ratings: Peterborough United 1-0 Bolton Wanderers

It’s all gone a bit flat hasn’t it?

Peterborough United v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League One
Keith Hill’s tactics came under fire in defeat at Peterborough
Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

I don’t wish to alarm anyone, but I fear we are being rudely awakened from the “Impossible Dream”.

Wanderers went to London Road (or whatever soul-selling name they’ve given it now) with an apparently threadbare squad and a decent sized support fearing another result of 7-1 proportions. As it turned out, we didn’t have a threadbare squad but even so Keith Hill was gripped by the same fear, setting his team out in a 5-3-2 formation in damage limitation mode to avoid another thrashing.

Ivan Toney’s 14th goal of the season settled the game in the first half as Hill’s negative and stunted tactics meant that conceding the goal equated to conceding the game. It was a dour showing that is reflective of the similarly dour showings we have seen since the MK Dons smash and grab.

As you can probably gather, these ratings aren’t going to be wholly positive:

Remi Matthews 5

A poor touch from a Yoan Zouma backpass almost lead to another “Remistake” ending in a goal but he was bailed out by his defence. I think he could have made more of an effort to save Toney’s header though it was well-placed, and I could be wrong. It is concerning how many goals he concedes when neglecting to dive though, it’s a worrying tendency. A sign of complacency due to no serious competition perhaps? But it’s alright because he celebrates a lot when we score…

Josh Emmanuel 5

Many will say this should be lower due to the utterly disgraceful positioning for Toney’s goal and while it was a calamitous error, looking even worse when viewed in slow-motion replay, his all-round performance was actually quite good. He linked reasonably well with Joe Dodoo, went on a few trademark mazy runs and made a stunning goal line block to deny Mo Eisa. He’s alright, he just made a mistake.

Yoan Zouma 6

Not good, not bad. Hill hooked him early in the second half for Chris O’Grady, presumably thinking he was our worst defender but other than a few poor aerial challenges where Toney got the better of him, I thought he was ok. I don’t think Jake Wright would have fared any better.

Josh Earl 6.5

Promising. He’s pretty useful on the ball and was much better than Zouma in the air. I’d like to see him next to Jack Hobbs (we badly miss him by the way, his aerial ability would stop us conceding from so many crosses) as I think he has the legs to cover him. Again, would play him over Wright.

Liam Bridcutt 5

I thought this bum was out until the New Year! Now that I’ve triggered you, do realise I don’t think this guy is a bad footballer. Compared to the rest of our team, he’s probably the best. However, out of position or not, he’s so detrimental to the way we play. Yet again he insisted on being given the ball even though he was positioned 99% of the time deep in our own half. His long-range passing is nothing short of an abomination and Hill needs to get him to stop thinking he’s a quarterback, he isn’t. I’m yet to see on come off. He tackles well and is the only one in our team I trust on the ball, but he’s not making us better. I really hope we don’t renew him in January.

Adam Chicksen 4

The poorest I have seen him play. Joe Ward had free reign down the Posh’s right flank, beating the Zimbabwean for pace at will. I would say 90% of their attacks came down Chicksen’s side and I think the pressure of playing week in week out in such a specialist position may be taking its toll as a performance like this has been coming. He’s better than this.

Jason Lowe 6.5

It was probably one of the poorer displays I’ve seen from him this season but that probably demonstrates how good he’s been. He wasn’t bad at all but I would have liked to see more confidence from him. Bridcutt being in the team means he is captain, which is fine, but I think Lowe reacts badly to it. There was something a little off about him, though he still tackled well and kept the ball tidily.

Luke Murphy 7

Recovered from some serious rustiness in the first half to be probably our best performer. Had one good shot saved by Christy Pym, flashed a header just wide of the post and tackled and passed superbly in the second period. While Lowe was a bit off colour, Murphy went that extra mile, making it a welcome return to the team once he got going.

Ronan Darcy 6

Showed great tenacity and dribbling skills before being taken off for Thibaud Verlinden in the second half, though his end product in front of goal is clearly a weakness. The chance he had was a good one and to not test the keeper was a bit disappointing. He’s not doing an awful lot wrong but when the tactics negate attacking flair he isn’t allowed to flourish.

Joe Dodoo 7

He’s getting up to full speed and I think if he stays fit he could be as crucial as anyone to our survival bid. He provokes positive memories of Sammy Ameobi’s quick feet to evade challenges that seem impossible to get out of and is always making himself available as an out-ball. He had a tame shot saved by Pym late on that probably should have been better, but he stood out in a mostly dry and lifeless team performance.

Daryl Murphy 6

His link up play was pretty good throughout and he was always a willing runner but no chances fell his way to make it 6 in 6. We need him to stay fit and provide him good service, not force him to feed off scraps. Peterborough’s defence, “anchored” (in the loosest sense of the word) by Mark Beevers, didn’t look the strongest but it was tested so infrequently that it didn’t matter. Murphy may be good but he’s not going to win us games without help.

Substitutes:

Chris O’Grady 5

Didn’t do anything of note if memory serves. Backup for a reason.

Thibaud Verlinden 6

Not his best day but he has to be starting games, for me. Nobody in the side is as exciting and can deliver a cross like him. We may not have him for long, we need to make the most of him.

Manager:

Keith Hill 3

He gets at least a 3 because the formation was correct, matching Peterborough was sensible and could have worked well. However, matching them didn’t have to mean we played for a 0-0. His tactic in recent weeks seems to have been to hold the opposition until 60 minutes then try and exploit tired legs. Like so much of his management style, it’s so weird.

Why not play your best team and use the attacking flair we have to our advantage? In this game, 5 at the back was going to be negative enough without actively inviting pressure, so why do it against a team with so many goals in their team. It could have been 4-0 at half-time because we just let Peterborough come onto us at will, almost as if Hill wanted them to punch themselves out, so to speak. This can’t go on and injuries or not we are capable of much better. It’s a must win next week and there’s absolutely no room for negative play.