Well Bolton are out at the first hurdle of the Carabao League Mickey Mouse Cup and the scoreline flattered a more experienced Rochdale. A nice distraction before it all the courtroom shenanigans, the young lads coupled with the return of a few seniors overall put on decent showing for the first 55-60 minutes before completely flat-lining. Understandable but still a shame. But who put on the best display? (Just a note, all the seniors who went on strike will have 10 points deducted from their rating for being scummy at the weekend. If you can’t do the maths from there, I don’t know what to tell you)
Let’s get into the ratings:
Remi Matthews: -5.5
Definitely didn’t cover himself in glory upon his return. Overall, this is a rather generous mark considering the 5 goals conceded. I don’t believe the 2nd, 3rd and 4th goals were his fault though. With the penalty, that happens to all keepers at some point being sent the wrong way so again can’t really be too critical. However, not diving for that 5th goal was disgraceful. He could’ve have easily stopped that but let the weariness of the rest of the team drag him down to be lazy. Did make a couple vital saves in both halves though so did at least prevent it from being worse.
Harry Brockbank: 6
Thought he struggled a bit in dealing with Dooley whose pace had the beating of him a couple times. However, also did a lot of good covering for King-Harmes and was tireless in his approach down the right side. Rarely gave the ball away and at no real fault for any of the goals.
Liam Edwards: 7.5
There’s a reason why the floodgates started to open once Edwards went off. His assurance and presence in the backline was key to limiting Rochdale’s numerous attacks and his cool head and more experienced mind allowed him to always be in a good position to save our skins when we we were in trouble. Hope the ankle injury isn’t too serious because we could really do with him back in the squad going forward.
Yoan Zouma: 7.0
Getting a slight downgrade from his partner due to the rash challenge for the penalty but Zouma was his usual reliable self, at least when partnered with Edwards. Plenty of strong tackles and big headers kept them at bay. Seemed to lose a bit of that though once his partner went off. Seems to be the kind of player that benefits from having a natural leader at the back like Edwards. He wasn’t that bad when Boon was on either, just not the same. Overall, still a good game, even with the rash challenge.
Jason Lowe: -4.0
The senior who did himself the most favours upon returning to the side, I’ve seen a few criticisms for him and saying he was at fault for our goals. There might be a case for the 5th, saying he should’ve stopped the cross or prevented it from happening but overall, he didn’t really do much wrong. Did what a captain (yes, I know he shouldn’t have been but he was so shut up) should do and kept things tidy and led by example. A few good interceptions and tackles, finding passes and even bombed up the wing at one point (No I’m not joking). Not a bad display.
James Weir: 6.5
Tidy in midfield and bundles of energy in his performance, Weir is really starting to cement the central position as his own. Constantly up and down and putting in strong challenges he was happy to do the dirty side. It didn’t end their though, some good forward passing to keep things moving and keep us on the attack, I’m starting to become a fan of Weir. If he can improve his set-piece delivery a bit, we’ll have got a proper bargain on our hands for this season.
Luke Murphy: -6.0
Conversely, Luke Murphy was the opposite of Weir. Inaccurate passes, lost the ball too often and tame in the challenge, Murphy did himself absolutely no favours of warranting a return to 1st team football. At the start of the season, I was hoping that we’d see the Murphy that was highly rated all those years by Leeds and Burton. Clearly it’s not this man. Much sooner have Sonny Graham back in or if it must be a senior, Lowe instead of Murphy. Abysmal.
Callum King-Harmes: 5.5
The lad still looked knackered from his heroic display against Coventry. While he still tried his hardest, there wasn’t as much covering and running from the young man. Also struggled to beat his marker often, not having the same strength and resolve he had prior. Absolutely nothing against the young man, who did still manage the play the full 90 but not nearly as impactful as he was against Coventry. There’s always the next match and still has a bright spark about him.
Dennis Politic: 6.5
Buzzing for him to get his first goal for the club. Up and down constantly trying to make himself a nuisance at both ends of the pitch, he was tireless. However, he needs to work on his decision making. While I would absolutely not want to knock down that arrogance that makes him try to lob the keeper from halfway line once every match (twice in this case), he can play smarter and try to pass more often to a teammate in better positions instead of trying to beat multiple men in a tight space. Overall though, I still like him and he was solid again.
Ronan Darcy: 7.0
This lad is such a talent. Strolls about the pitch with the confidence of a veteran and relentless in his play. Going forward he linked up well with those around him and set up some good chances and moves for this teammates. Maybe lucky that the keeper was delayed in his actions more than a Bolton Wanderers takeover for his goal but even so, I bet that will do him a world of good and certainly deserved for his efforts. Another great performance.
Eddie Brown: 6.0
Will never fault his effort to the cause and had some good link-up play with Darcy up top. The lad was used a target man again though and he just isn’t that kind of player. Struggled to make any real impact on the game because of it. This lad either needs a goal or a taller/stronger partner to play alongside before we can truly see the best of him IMO. Needs that sort of confidence boost but still a tryer before cramping up towards the end.
Jordan Boon: 5.0
I truly hate to seem to critical towards the younger lads but Boon proved in this game that he isn’t quite ready for 1st team football IMO. I will never fault the lads for not trying and I believe that Boon tried his hardest. However, he has a lot to learn. Lost his marker for the 2nd goal and twice put us in dangerous positions to invite serious Rochdale pressure. There’s definitely a good player in there and I admired some of runs carrying out the ball from the back but not the debut either he or I would’ve hoped for. Hopefully onwards and upwards for the young man from here.
Finlay Hurford-Lockett: 6.0
Didn’t get much opportunity to make an impact in the game. Linked up OK with Brockbank on the right and was certainly eager to get forward. Didn’t do much of note but also means he didn’t do much wrong either. Standard 6
De’Marlio Brown-Sterling: N/A
Didn’t have much time to make an impact but I will say that personally, I believe that Brown-Sterling would make a decent target man up top for the moment, especially if he starts filling out a bit more. Has a good turn of pace and his height isn’t anything to sneeze at for his age, so possibly more room to grow there. I’m curious to see how he develops but for this match, not really fair to rate him properly with so little time.
Fans: 10 (HT 1)
In the stands, their consistently unwavering support of the fans for our younger players, even holding back their likely undoubted desire to chew out the seniors, their voices were booming and positive. The majority staying back towards the end and giving every player a brilliant send-off, coupled with regularly mugging off the quiet Rochdale crowd was a joy to be a part of.
At half-time though, we got the ugly side of our fanbase that I hate. I’m all for singing in the concourse and having a jump about and even people climbing on their mates shoulders to belt out songs or wave scarves around. I can even cope with flares, even though I fear for the safety of kids when it gets to that stage. That’s all fine. When it gets stupid and violent though is where our fans are a disgrace. I’ll stress that this is a minority but that minority is still an embarrassment to our club. Lobbing beer bottles, food packets, condiments and bulky plastic utensil trays at stewards and Rochdale staff or just attacking them in general is disgraceful. It encouraged other impressionable idiots to start that kind of behaviour and it’s disgusting to see. It’s a miracle that no one was seriously hurt.
Sorry to end on a sour note but I can’t let this kind of thing slide and not be called out. I love our fans but not when they get like that, it can ruin the game for some people. More of what I saw in the stands, less of the stupidity I saw at HT from now on, eh.