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Player Ratings: Southend United 0-1 Bolton Wanderers

Successful teams always find ways to win...

Southend United v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League Two Photo by Jacques Feeney/Getty Images

Another hard fought, important win for the Wanderers. Here is how I rated the lads..

Gilks - 5.5

Came away with a clean sheet, not overly due to his own performance and more the lack of quality Southend had in the final third. He had one save to make, gathering a poor header from Akinola with ease in the first half. Ball in his hands, fine. Ball at his feet, a worry. I think it’s only a matter of time before it hurts us. His distribution was very poor, but that could be partially blamed on the poor surface. Only 8 of his 21 attempted long balls were successful. I think his experience will be vital against a difficult Scunthorpe on Tuesday, but I’d be tempted to give Jensen his debut at the weekend against the struggling Barrow.

Jones - 6

His heatmap suggests he spent more time in the opposition’s half than our own, showing his attacking intent, but the output just wasn’t there. Only 50% pass accuracy and one accurate cross out of three. There seems to be a good partnership starting to develop with Maddison, helping each other out in both defence and attack. Jones had more touches than any player on the pitch as the majority of our play did come down the right, particularly in the first half. Solid enough defensively but wasn’t really challenged by a poor Southend team.

Santos - 7.5

Outstanding, again. Excellent in the air and excellent with the ball at his feet. 100% of tackles attempted were successful and made six clearances. The way Dieng bounced off him in the first half was excellent to see. His range of passing is getting better each week, he has all the attributes of a superb modern day centre half. If he continues playing as he is there is no chance he stays beyond the summer. Received his third MOTM award in his last five games from whoscored.com and was selected again in the League Two’s team of the week.

Baptiste - 8

Slightly better than his centre back partner, for me. The way Baptiste has played recently is everything I had hoped when he re-signed for the club. He’s used his experience to show how well he reads the game and has marshalled the defence that has only conceded three goals in the last five games. Baptiste won 9 aerial battles and made 11 clearences. On current form, I would think that there is no better centre half pairing in the division than Baptiste and Santos. They compliment each other excellently.

John - 7

I don’t care how much money he wants, give it him. Our best left-back since..? You could argue we still haven’t seen much of John, but what we have seen, he’s been a level above. The only chance we have of keeping him beyond the summer is if we get promoted and he doesn’t receive any interest from a Championship club. His heatmap showed a deeper average position to Jones, highlighting Wanderers favoured playing down the right against Southend. That being said, John is always finding himself in space. His positional awareness when going forward is excellent. The only thing I would ask of both fullbacks, earlier crosses into the box. We know DJ has the quality to put the ball on a sixpence for Doyle or the other attackers, I just want to see it more often.

Lee - 6

Clearly a level above in terms of ability, but that pitch made it a lot more difficult to play his usual game. Over 180 minutes of game time within four days but didn’t look to drop off as the game went on, showing how good his energy levels and fitness must be. Would another 90 minutes on Tuesday be too much to ask? Potentially. I didn’t think Lee was as effective against Southend as he was Mansfield, but he was still impressive. I see our best midfield three as Lee, Williams and Sarcevic playing just in-front so I am keen to see how those partnerships develop over the coming games.

Williams - 8

Some won’t agree, as the jury is still out, but I thought MJ was superb. He did everything required of him. Of the nine tackles he attempted, seven were successful - three more than any other player on the pitch. Came in second place to Doyle in Wanderers pass completion charts, although MJ attempted 35 more passes than him. People will argue who is the better option, Tutte or Williams, but I saw enough against Mansfield and Southend to say we’re right to stick with MJ. He will only get better with game time and learning his responsibilities that are required of him in this system. He doesn’t look out of place when covering at CB when Baptiste or Santos maraud forward and can sit in the middle of them when required. Impressive performance, I hope he can build on it.

Maddison - 6

Went close twice in the first half. The first a fierce, low shot that Oxley failed to hold onto before Doyle put the rebound over the bar, that should have gone in. The second, a typical Maddison effort that whistled over the top of the crossbar. I am totally confident that after he gets that first goal or assist, they won’t stop. He is the personification of a confidence player. Once one comes off, the floodgates will open. Again, can be accused of trying the spectacular or a fancy trick here and there. But, so what? If it starts harming the team then there’s reason to be critical, but it hasn’t. Controversial opinion alert, we shouldn’t have subbed him when we did. I thought he was growing into the game as it went on. Unlike Afolayan, he didn’t look as if he was tiring at all. I would have given him another 10 minutes at least before bringing on Isgrove to replace him.

Delfouneso - 5

I am really not convinced with Delfouneso in the #10 position, it just doesn’t quite work for me. For me, he just doesn’t do enough to link the midfield and attack. He has looked at his best this season out on the left. The #10 is meant to dictate attack and pull the strings. For example, Sarcevic had the same amount of touches in half the time on the pitch, in the same position. I don’t think Fonz is a bad option, not at all, but I want to see him getting to the levels he was earlier in the season. I think we’d see that if he was utilised on the left or alongside Doyle in a recognised top two.

Afolayan - 6

Another very lively first 45 but seemed to fall off a cliff in the second half. He went close for a second consecutive game with a low drive that this time narrowly missed the far post. I really like this lad, think he could be a superstar - especially on our bigger, better quality pitch. He carries the ball well and puts in a shift all over the park. Looks as if he has almost been given a free role to roam anywhere behind Doyle, popping up wider right than Maddison at times. I imagine the heaviness of the pitch contributed to his drop off in the second 45, the decision to substitute him was bang on. I look forward to seeing him play a double header at the Reebok this week.

Doyle - 6

Pretty anonymous for the most part and not through a lack of trying. If we weren’t winning, I reckon he’d be getting pretty frustrated at the moment. He just isn’t getting the service that the wide players should be providing. As mentioned earlier, we need both fullbacks and wingers to bombard him with crosses and give him as many chances as possible. He will score more chances than he misses, but at the moment those clear cut chances are few and far between. He came close with a first time effort in the first half that whistled past the post and had one effort cleared off the line. His effort off Maddison’s saved shot looked easier to score than miss, but slipped and scooped his effort over the bar. On another day, all three of those go in. I still have no doubt he’ll hit 20 for the season, Miller will be breathing down his neck for a starting place. Competition breeds consistency.

Subs:

Sarcevic - 6

Played a big part in the goal, nice to see him back on the pitch and doing more in 30 minutes than Delfouneso has in the last few games. Hopefully Sarce can provide that missing link between the midfield and the attack, getting Doyle more involved in the game.

Gnahoua - 6

Another sub who played a part in the set up to the goal. Showed his usual quick feet in the box. A nightmare for tiring defenders. Completely agree with Evatt that he is far more effective off the bench than starting games. He’s another I would potentially start against Barrow at weekend, swapping roles with Afolayan and bring him off the bench instead.

Isgrove - 5

I can’t really remember him touching the ball much. I like him, but he’s the opposite to Arthur where I find him more effective as a starter than an impact sub.

Miller - 7

Delighted to see him back and on the scoresheet. 100 not out for the striker who will have a big part to play in the run in. Another signing I’ve liked from what we’ve seen. Puts himself about and comes across really well in his post-match interview. Gets a 7/10 for his awareness to stay in the box anticipating a chance, a proper poachers goal.