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Player Ratings: Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Newport County

Well I wasn’t exactly expecting a bag full of Malteser revels on Saturday

Bolton Wanderers v Newport County - Sky Bet League Two Photo by Chris Donnelly/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Well I wasn’t exactly expecting a bag full of Malteser revels yesterday, or whichever you personally like the most. But we most certainly got a bag full of *coffee creme’s instead didn’t we...

If you include pre-season friendlies, Wanderers sunk to their 7th consecutive loss. By the same metric this was our 5th consecutive home loss and more importantly our third loss on the bounce in League 2 as Michael Flynn’s coherent and decisive side came to town buoyed by their disposal of Watford in the Carabao Cup and an unbeaten start to the season.

And in no great surprise to me or you, after what seems like a decade of this kind of interminable shite, they waltzed back to South Wales with all three points.

Anyway onto the ratings, as is my duty...

*disclaimer: I like coffee creme’s.

And for coffee cremes read, ‘a soft centre filled with shite’.

Billy Crellin 3

A very good reaction save from Twine around the half hour mark and some decent distribution, mainly quick throws and one almighty kick upfield that doesn’t quite fit ‘Brand Evatt’s’ narrative that I vaguely recall from the annals of my brain, as I supped another IPA through my tear-hazed, dead eyes.

The two goals didn’t just come because he parried eminently holdable shots right back into the centre of the goal, as the defenders played statues while Tristan Abrahams was the only alert man on the pitch. But it sure as hell didn’t help.

One flap from a cross in the first half that ended in a half-arsed punch away was misjudged so badly it had to be seen to be be believed and it’s very much a mixed bag at the moment from the rookie keeper, which is a surprise to absolutely no-one.

Matt Gilks is unlikely to come in given he hasn’t featured even once in friendlies or cup games and bringing in an even younger and untried keeper in Matthew Alexander (yes, despite ‘that game’ vs Coventry) to the team would probably be a pointless and hypocritical move.

So as far I can see we’re stuck with Billy. So let’s get behind the young lad, well, let’s get behind our keyboards and get behind him.

Gethin Jones 4.5

I thought what he did was fine. He’s not spectacular but the link-up play with Hickman was clever and incisive at times and he at least looks like he knows how to defend on the whole, although he let Haynes cut inside him far too easily for the second goal.

He does keep his place for me though and I wouldn’t be averse to him playing on the right of a back three, were Evatt inclined to try his original system. You know, the one that he and Tobias Phoenix based our entire summer recruitment drive and the first 17 players through the door upon? Yeah that one...

Ricardo Santos 1

I’m really not happy to give a rating like this as I really hate being so down on a new signing. I’m quite a fair bloke and I generally make allowances for people who I meet in my life who are arseholes.

‘Something might be happening at home’ or ‘I’ve probably just caught him at a bad time’.

However, I can’t bring myself to make any excuses for Santos, based on one particular moment, in all honesty.

His start at the club makes Gerald Cid’s Bolton career seem like a Ballon D’or worthy stint. As inauspicious a beginning in a white shirt I struggle to remember. Being compared with Dean Moxey is not a good thing, if Ricardo was wondering.

Despite either his laziness or totally honest lack of concentration, the signing from Barnet had cost us at least 3 goals this season already leading up to this game. We’d only played 4 competitive games by the way, so that’s not a good ratio if anyone’s confused.

Now Newport looked like scoring and should have done at every set-piece they took in the first half, I’ve not yet had the time or to be honest with you, the inclination, to check which player was at fault for not tracking man A, man B etc. All I know is Santos is a big part of that defence and it is truly awful. I understand he needs to build a relationship with another centre-half/halves and also relationships with the other members of the unit.

What I cannot forgive is idly jogging back when you’ve completely left your man free to amble through the centre of the pitch from a through ball. That was the moment that made my mind up that he was getting a 1. With it being 0-0 at the time if he’d gone on to score the winner then I might’ve changed my mind.

Alas he didn’t. He’s besmirched the name Ricardo now for me, which was once associated with happy times.

George Taft 4

Made a few blocks apparently that I don’t really remember. He looked good vs Bradford on his competitive debut in my opinion and this game gave him the opportunity to make a claim to be the main man for Evatt on the left side of the centre in his new back four.

Did he take that chance? Let Abrahams run free for the second goal so perhaps not but there’s bigger problems and culprits than him so far. He offers balance being left footed and he escapes my wrath, mainly because I can’t remember him being heavily involved with the really bad bits.

Liam Gordon 4.5

I’m not as down on this kid as most seem to be, despite him being talked up in pre-season after impressing against Loughborough Uni by some fans as our League Two version of Roberto Carlos, or Alphonso Davies for those who are too old to remember Carlos!

He’s a very inexperienced footballer, at any level, never mind EFL level and it shows in his decision making. He was also part of the statues that watched Abrahams steal a march on every single member of our back line. But the effort and commitment is no doubt there, which I understand should be a given. His strength, determination and poise in getting in behind his marker and pulling the ball back, ending up with Delfouneso’s disallowed equaliser was very encouraging.

I think his passing is crisp enough most of the time down the flanks and he’s not hiding. I may be wrong but I think there’s something there with him.

I’d perhaps give Mascoll a chance though and take him out of the firing line for a game or two.

Tom White 4

In a game that Josh Sheehan was by far and away the best operator in midfield, White tried to get the side moving with some decent recycling of the ball. He does lack that line-breaking pass however, whether that be because movement-wise, the wide forwards and Doyle aren’t yet on his wavelength (which would be understandable given we’ve probably only worked on this new formation for ten days) or he’s just not got the quick thinking, vision and technique to pull them off. I couldn’t tell you for definite yet until I see more of him to make a solid judgement with a bigger sample size.

Looked to take a heavy knock to his knee in the first half after a tangle of legs but carried on manfully. As far as I remember in the second half he was bypassed and pretty anonymous as Newport grabbed a stranglehold on the game.

Brandon Comley 2.5

The former QPR academy graduate came to the club on the back of some impressive passing accuracy stats for play-off’s reaching Colchester United.

Unfortunately, it looks like that’s the only aspect that we made the decision on to offer him a two-year deal.

Going off the games I’ve been able to catch, Comley looks one-paced, hesitant and unable to control the midfield.

His body shape when receiving the ball has been constantly criticised by the somewhat haphazard and frankly amusing iFollow commentary team and they are totally right in all honesty.

This inability to manoeuvre his body to enable him to look at the play in front of him leads to Comley running down blind alleys whilst being pressed and choosing either the safe option or being harassed off the ball in problematic areas.

It’s early days and writing someone off at this stage is foolish but let’s say he hasn’t endeared himself to the keyboard warriors, which let us be honest, is every fan right now as we ain’t got no choice, have we!

Jak Hickman 5.5

I don’t agree with the ‘everyone deserves a 2/10’ mantra when we lose a game so depressingly as this. Let’s be honest, if we were trailing 3-0 at halftime, no-one could’ve complained.

But we did equalise (the handball is accidental and therefore not intentionally gaining an advantage) and we had a golden chance to take the lead in an encouraging final ten to fifteen minutes of the first half. This game was not without some small redeeming features and for me, Hickman was one of the few morsels we can console ourselves with.

He looks bothered to be there and technically proficient while possessing the in-game intelligence positionally to dovetail nicely with a traditional right-back, Jones being someone who he seems to be building an understanding with.

I’m struggling to give you exact examples of what it was that impressed me about him and he didn’t last the 90 here either. It’s just an overall impression I garnered from the game.

Basically it’s small shoots of green but I like him and would like to see him retained in the side for now.

Whether that’s as a more progressive option than Jones to allow Isgrove to come into his position or retaining the more attacking role he’s occupied the past two games, I’m not quite sure yet.

Ali Crawford 4

The Scotsman is a bit of a favourite of the Trotters fans and he does show why that is in flashes. But that’s all they are. Flashes of quality.

He’s never quite grabbed a game by the scruff of its neck for us, except for maybe the win in which he injured himself over Manchester City’s under 23’s, who were essentially actually children being mainly 16 and 17. That being said, he at least shows potential to do this, which is more than could be said for most of our players. However, potential is a word reserved for someone who’s 18, 19 or 20. Not 29 year-old’s. So I think we can safely assume this is Crawford. This is how he plays and these flashes, like the pull-back for Delfouneso who really should’ve scored and like the free-kick which kind of tested Nick Townsend in the Port goal, are all that we can expect from him.

He won’t dictate the tempo like Sheehan effortlessly did for the visitors. What we need is better players around Crawford, which mean these ‘moments’ might actually lead to something that counts.

Was one of three hooked after Newport’s second goal, which being he does still look like the only player who might actually create a moment we can capitalise on, seemed rather a counter productive move. His stamina has been called into question before though and Evatt must’ve thought his race was run.

Nathan Delfouneso 5.5

I have an idea. It might be crazy. But hear me out. Play ‘the Fonz’ as he shall be known in this rating, in midfield.

He has very nimble feet, is able to hold the ball up and has good awareness of those around him. He can pick a pass and can actually carry the ball and beat a man. What I don’t think he is capable of doing, however, is score. Put the ball in the net. Bust the ol’ onion bag (sorry to mention onions, this is a revel sponsored article). That’s a bit of an issue when you’re a striker, is it not?

The chance he should’ve buried after Crawford’s ball to him in front of goal was passed up almost apologetically, like scoring would’ve offended the opposition keeper too much. Put your foot through it man!!

On another day I’m writing this rating giving the Fonz MOTM after equalising and setting up the winner. But life isn’t based on what if’s and what could’ve been’s. Yes he managed to just about scramble the ball home but his stupid hand was at the end of his arm, so it didn’t matter. Was taken off as part of Evatt’s understandably reactionary triple substitution on 65 minutes, when I can’t see what he’d done wrong above others to deserve being dragged off.

The Fonz is clearly a nifty and intelligent footballer and one who I would be happy to see in our side moving forward.

But maybe, just maybe Ian, try my suggestion. You never know...

Eoin Doyle 5

Trying so hard to get himself involved, even if that’s in areas of the pitch we’d rather he not occupy, given that he’s probably our only chance of scoring a goal. However, his drought in competitive games since signing continues with no real sign of it ending.

Showed some better link-up play than previous outings and I do feel that if he’d had Delfouneso’s chance at the end of the first half we’d of been discussing one of the most fortuitous first-half leads that we’ve ever witnessed.

I do think a goal will arrive for him soon and what that could mean for us is extremely important.


Andy Tutte 6

Got himself involved and looks an infinitely better option than Comley on his brief cameos thus far. The type of battle hardened midfielder that Evatt may well be referring to when he suggested some of the ‘better players’ might not be suited to the situation we find ourselves in now and rather that we need guys in there who are willing and able to scrap and earn the right to play. Tutte could be that man Evatt turns to.

Lloyd Isgrove 6

A bright half-an-hour from the pacey winger, who’s delivery looks promising. Will need time to get match fit and has a pretty woeful goal record but he’s an old school winger by the looks of this performance and if his understanding with Doyle at Swindon is replicated, setting up 6 goals for the Irishman last season, he might be exactly what we need.

Arthur Gnahoua 5.5

I can’t remember anything of note from the former Macclesfield man, except a free-kick that went over the bar. He looks a bit quick too. That’s never a bad thing.

Let’s see some more of him but his goal record is almost as bad as Isgrove’s and that’s even more concerning as he’s actually a striker and one at that who’s mainly played at National League level and below. God help us. Let’s just hope he is a decent alternative with pace and a point to prove.