Matt Gilks - 10
Just for recovering from his life threatening injury and allowing thousands of fans a huge sigh of relief, he gets a 10, as we’d of lost if he hadn’t.
Joking aside, he was commanding enough against a physically imposing team and he actually claims high balls, which is nice. None of this punching malarkey. Not an awful lot to do on Saturday as most shots were either weak or straight at him. Can’t recall too many distribution worries too.
Yes, he’s had the odd rick; Carlisle, Mansfield and Cambridge come to mind. But he gives our defenders confidence, which has been key to what is now the joint-best unbeaten run in the whole of England. Viva Matt Gilks!
Gethin Jones - 7
“I meant to hit it into the other corner”? Huh? That’s worrying as there were loads of players and the goalie in the way of that side of the goal. Luckily his shooting technique clearly ain’t up to much, as he shanked it in the opposite part of the net, while Vale’s keeper Scott Brown decided to take a watching brief.
In all seriousness, he was no better or worse than any of his teammates on a pretty turgid day at the office but was solid enough defensively and scored the winner. Got to be a 7 that in anybody’s book.
Ricardo Santos - 7
Dealt well with fleet-footed Nottingham Forest loanee Will Swan until he came off injured but had a harder time physically dominating Devante Rodney and Swan’s replacement, Theo Robinson, who both gave as good as they got against Rico.
Not as much opportunity for those thrusting runs or pinpoint switches of play but still, he was part of a defence that kept a vital clean sheet, so he’ll do for me...
Alex Baptiste - 5.5
Was a little shaky throughout and looked like he was about to make a monumental error at any point. Which I suppose he did for the Gilks heart-in-mouth moment, as he sold his mate short with an early back pass. Has form for that, does Alex.
Definitely not at his commanding best but did well to regain his composure, perhaps keeping things more simple than in recent weeks and therefore acknowledging his radar was a little out. Which, if that was indeed the case, was eminently sensible.
Played a lot more football than he or we, as fans, would’ve imagined he’d manage or need to this season. That needs to be recognised and taken into account when his performance levels drop, like they did on Saturday in my opinion. The week off will do him good.
Declan John - 7
Yeah, he was good. I think. Don’t remember much else except thinking I was happy when he had the ball. Clean sheet, job done. Move on.
MJ Williams - 7
Rinse and repeat for the unsung hero, who’s actually being ‘sung’ now, I suppose, so it probably counts him out for being unsung anymore. You know what I mean.
Just very diligent and just about on the right side of cynical at times. Which is lovely. Not quite the second coming of Karl Henry but maybe a Henry-lite. With flowing locks instead of a skin-head.
Kieran Lee - 7.5
Is he banned from shooting or is he just shite at it? A few times he received the ball on the edge of the area with what looked like at least half a second to get a shot away through admittedly crowded sea of legs and not once did he take it on. Probably right not to really, as reworking possession is likely to be the better option 80% of the time. Just an observation, not yet a criticism.
Steady, reliable and rarely wastes the ball. Another one who, when you see he’s received it, you know he won’t do owt daft with it. Which helps the old ticker, while ironically supping beer and chowing down on some sort of junk food to accompany the game.
Sarcevic - n/a
Get better soon, Skip. Remember one passage of play where we broke and I felt he slowed it down unnecessarily. Come to think of it, it may have been when or just before he did his hammy, actually. Which could explain his hesitance. Anyway, no mark as not enough time had elapsed.
1st half sub Lloyd Isgrove - 7.5
Worked damn hard as always after replacing the stricken Sarcevic, though his crossing accuracy was a little wayward. He gets bumped up for his super ball down the channel into Dapo for the goal. And for the intelligent play in winding the clock down. His close control and bursts of acceleration frustrated the Vale defenders trying to retrieve the ball.
Lloyd’s the type of reliable sort who managers love and I for one am becoming more and more fond of him too and of all our Welsh contingent too.
Dapo Afolayan - 7
It’s too high a score really but there’s two reasons why I’m prepared to give it.
1. he set up the winning goal at the end of the day. Extra points for actually looking up and playing a decent weight of ball to the on-rushing player, giving them a great chance to score.
2. I really like him
He persevered when his head could’ve dropped, as very little he tried came off, much like the whole team really. That perseverance paid off and we won the game (mainly) because of it. Simples.
Nathan Delfouneso - 6
‘Fonz’ did fine.
Not enough really but was I annoyed by his performance?
Do I remember much about his game?
Eoin Doyle - 6
Touch a bit off but didn’t have any glaring misses. Hell, he didn’t have any chances at all. Still, the now age-old line applies ‘we need to give him more service’ but it’s hard when you’re playing on a bog, you’re knackered and their defence are big buggers. Work rate still good and for that he doesn’t drop below a 6 for me.
Arthur Gnahoua - 7
The King got half an hour and did well to help wind the clock down and generally looked composed and positive on the ball without being electric. Such a great sub to have.
Zack Elbouzedi - 7
Given the nod ahead of Marcus Maddison, it was a surprise to see him back on the bench and an even bigger one to see him come on for Doyle instead of Shaun Miller.
The right choice from Ian Evatt, though, as his pace pushed Vale back and limited them to humping it forward from deep, which limited the effectiveness of that tactic. Made some intelligent darting runs which helped us keep the ball and when on it didn’t look quite as weak and lily-livered as last time I saw him. As Andy Townsend would say, ‘better’.
Ian Evatt - 7
Picked an unchanged winning team we all would’ve done, I think and made the right subs too. His biggest call was leaving out Marcus Maddison completely for Elbouzedi, which worked out well if you look at the Lincoln City loanee’s contribution. The biggest bugbear nearly bit him in the ass in continuing to risk naming no substitute goalkeeper in favour of an extra attacking player when we have three, okay, okay, 2.5 sat twiddling their thumbs.
This mark will be a 1 the day Gilks is sent off/injured and we get beat. Unnecessary risk that the reward doesn’t make up for.
Is he a lucky manager at the moment. Sure. But you earn your luck too. Keep it up, gaffer!