Once again, Bolton demonstrate the sloppiness and poor judgement in attacking and defensive displays that have become commonplace in the past month or 2. This one didn’t result in 5 losses in a row so hooray I guess... What does it matter? We’re L2 bound and deservedly so by some of the performances I’m keen to highlight here.
Let’s get into the Player Ratings:
Remi Matthews - 6.5
One of our few alright performers on the day. Remi made a solid amount of saves, my pick of the bunch being the instinctive stop from the chaotic cross early in the 1st half. I was convinced that was going to sneak in. His distribution still needs work and there may be a case from people to say he could’ve come off his line for the Bristol’s goal but not for me. Overall, a OK day at the office for the man who divides opinions.
Josh Emmanuel - 5.5
I was bemused when Emmanuel went off for Dodoo as I thought it would imbalance the whole team. While I was kindly reminded that Josh was ill and I can fully understand the decision now, I was unfortunately right in my latter thoughts which we’ll address later. Defensively, Emmanuel did struggle with Ginnelly on the wing. He did link up OK with Darcy in attack and as per usual, proved more threatening in attack with a couple good runs and dangerous crosses. Hope he recovers well for Saturday.
Aristote Nsiala - 5.0
Proving a competent enough defender in the air and had the unenviable job of marshalling Clarke-Harris which he mostly did well enough. Also credit to him for his clearances off the line in the 1st half. While he’s good at blocking though, I don’t remember him making a tackle and that is especially important when it led to the Bristol goal. Seems a bit weak in the challenge and it doesn’t help that he doesn’t recover that quickly when out of position. Not a great passer going forward either. He wasn’t bad but his weaknesses are noticeable.
Liam Edwards - 4.0
What were you thinking lad? How on earth could you let that cross just glide past you and put your arms up? Why didn’t you just knock the bugger out for a corner? It would’ve been so easy. I like Edwards from his early few games of the season but my God he has been a dumpster fire since his return. His passing was rubbish, his headers were inaccurate. At least he made a tackle or 2 but I can’t get over that horrible mistake. Even if he was told to leave it, any instinct as a defender should be to smack that bugger into row Z when it’s in your box. Needs to improve and quick.
Brandon Fleming - 5.5
Get’s a slightly higher mark for getting the assist but much like Emmanuel, he’s poor defensively, while going forward, he’s solid enough. A couple wayward passes here and there I can forgive because he was constantly trying to push the play forward in possession with his running and link up play. It resulted in him losing the ball a couple times but at least he was actually trying unlike some people in midfield which we’ll get to. His crossing was alright too. Enough about his attacking though, his defending was rubbish. Let their winger glide past him too easily and his hops aren’t good enough to compensate for his smaller stature in the air. Might get better more he plays but needs to work on his defensive game.
Jason Lowe - 5.0
I don’t understand those people who say that Lowe makes a better full back than a center mid. When he was shifted, we lost any semblance of defensive nous as well as a reliable and accurate passer. Say what you want about his tendency to pass it sideways or backwards but he was the only one in that midfield who can find a long ball to our wingers when we’re struggling to get forward. He also actually gets fully stuck in and has a good sense of positioning when it comes to interceptions. A lot of that gets lost when he’s shifted to full back and we paid for it as I’ll explain next. (He was fine in midfield, poor in defence btw)
Luke Murphy - 3.0
Here we are. The first of our utterly dreadful midfield pairing. Luke Murphy’s passing was absolutely atrocious and his defensive game was just as terrible. He puts about as much effort into a challenge as I do putting on my socks. I’d need as many finger as your average Wiganer to count how many times he needlessly gave the ball away. His lack of movement out of possession as well as his slow reactions heavily hinders the attacking plays we can make. Been quite poor since his return from suspension and this may have been the shit cherry on the shit cake.
Ethan Hamilton - 3.0
Where in the hell has the Hamilton from Rochdale disappeared to because this one sure as shit isn’t the same positive and exciting player from that game. Like Murphy, he was terrible in defence and poor in the pass. Like Darcy as well, he never took the opportunities that he had to shoot from outside the box. Plus his set-piece delivery was poorer compared to previous games. Finally, copy/paste what I said about Murphy’s movement and apply it to Hamilton. Those two’s horrible performances gave Bristol’s midfield free reign to constantly challenge our defenders. Needs to find that Rochdale performance again and be consistent.
Ronan Darcy - 4.5
Largely anonymous. The lad is an undeniably hard worker and had spells of good crosses and link up play. His game suffers tremendously though when he plays out wide. Was a little frustrating as well that he didn’t try to shoot when he had the opportunity in and around the box a couple of times. Rightfully substituted. Hope he gets to play centrally again in future games.
Dennis Politic - 6.5
Could Dennis have played a pass at points instead of trying to shoot? Possibly. Did he try to beat too many men when he could’ve passed to a teammate in better space? Occasionally. But Christ, he looked our only real threat going forward. He was always positive while still getting back to help out when needed. AND HE STAYS FORWARD FOR CORNERS?!!!! Can’t remember the last time we left someone up top when the opposition had corners. While he could be smarter at times, he is never afraid to shoot and I love that, especially when we’re currently goal shy.
Daryl Murphy - 7.0
His mobility may be terrible and he is a bit slow to react at times. However, when he has the ball, you can see what an asset he is to us. Rarely loses possession and when he does, he’s always eager to make amends. Whenever he rises to a header, he’s always searching for a teammate to lay it off to. He retains possession tremendously to boot when he has to. Once again, he also proves he’s the only reliable goalscorer we have. It’s kind of depressing that a 36 year old in the twilight of his career is our most potent striker but I certainly wouldn’t sniff at the opportunity to keep him on for next season. Special mention for being refreshingly honest in his interviews as well.
Joe Dodoo - 5.0
Don’t remember him doing anything particularly noteworthy in attack. What I do remember though is his pathetic attempts to win headers when in the air. At least he works hard when we need to defend.
Will Buckley - N/A
I won’t lie to you and say that I was excited to see him return, because I wasn’t. However, I also would never want to see any player of ours get stretchered off with a horrific injury, regardless of what I think of them as footballers. I wish you well in your recovery Will.
Chris O’Grady - N/A
Did fine. Still moves like a bicycle trapped in mud but he did his job up top when he came on.
Keith Hill - 3.0
Made strange changes and a questionable starting lineup. First off, if Emmanuel’s ill, why didn’t you just play Brockbank instead? Why would you not take off one of either Murphy or Hamilton when both were horrendous yesterday? Why wouldn’t you bring on O’Grady first when we clearly needed another target man up top? I know I shouldn’t compare him to Phil but we playing a lot of ...what’shisname-ball yesterday and COG is better for that than Dodoo. I’m not going to rant about him in any great detail because that’s either best saved for a Twitter thread or another LOV article (either way he’ll see it). I’m not going to mark him too harshly because I can appreciate he was dealt a difficult hand with the illnesses and some poor refereeing at times during the game. Plus, his interview wasn’t as frustratingly poetic as usual. However, he does not help himself on and off the field. The lack of clarity on the transfer front, the unwillingness to explain his tactical decisions at times and the contradictory statements that keep amounting as a result of it all could culminate into something ugly. He may have been given somewhat of a free pass this season but IMO, if this is his sort of probationary period before he starts proper next season, he’s got a lot to work on if he wants to win me back over.