Beating a Europa League team in their own backyard, go us

Harry Beasley: My first look at him, he’s got the same build as a very young Wayne Hennessey with a pleasing Britpop throwback haircut. Wasn’t overly tested but command of the box was excellent – took charge of situations where necessary and was a calm presence.

Hakeem Odoffin: Never going to be a flying wingback – he has the look of one of those players who managers will endlessly shuffle between playing at full back and centre half – but did a competent enough job in joining in with attacks as well as looking solid overall defensively.

Connor Johnson: Oh dear. I spent part of the back end of last season suggesting that Johnson was at least close to ready to making the step up. It’s not to say that he isn’t of course, but last night was a shocker for him personally. Beaten in the air too often, constantly getting touch tight to his man and as a consequence, being turned easily, a handful of slack misjudgements and should have conceded a penalty and been sent off for bringing down an opponent clean through on goal after his own error allowed the chance. Fortunately for us, the linesman on the near side didn’t appear to think keeping up with play was important. We’ll put this down as a bad day at the office as I’ve seen him play way better than that against far better players.

Ryan Leak: A much steadier game for his centre half partner. Doesn’t look the greatest in possession which doesn’t necessarily augur well for him going forward, there were a few minor errors but nothing catastrophic.

Anthony Breslin: Another impressive outing at left back. I’ve been quietly impressed every time I’ve seen him – I wouldn’t necessarily say you could throw him into the Championship right now and he’d slot in effortlessly (although it would have been preferable to effectively playing no-one at left back), but he gets all the basics right. Holds position, gets round to cover when we get in trouble, doesn’t back off too much, supports attacks without bombing forward haphazardly, decent left foot. There’s plenty to work with.

Dan Armstrong: Decent threat on the right hand side, not afraid to take his man on and put in some dangerous deliveries. Far from lightning quick but seems to be a good enough footballer to compensate for that.

Christian Herc: Quiet opening 10 minutes or so but from then on dictated play in the middle. His range of passing was on show and his first thought is always to drive forward with the ball; an exquisite spin to take him past an opponent showed his quality. It can’t be too long before he’s getting first team football, whether with us or out on loan.

Ross Finnie: It’s hard to write too much about a defensively minded midfielder when you’re playing against a semi-professional Welsh team and you have the lion’s share of possession. So I won’t.

Will Randall: A frustrating loan spell at Walsall last season seemed to indicate he had a way to go before he’d be making any kind of impact but there were some more promising signs here. Yes, the level of opposition wasn’t great. Yes, they allowed him to do pretty much as he pleased (it shouldn’t have taken a genius to work out that playing from the left, he cuts in virtually every single time). None of that is really his problem though and he was our best player in the first half. A continual threat, a decently struck goal (past the Lonergan-a-like in the Bala goal) and hopefully he’ll get another chance out on loan soon.

Donovan Wilson: As we’ve seen in his brief first team outings, there’s still a way to go for Don. There’s no doubt that he has plenty going for him; he can obviously finish and any forward with that amount of pace is always going to be a danger to a point. What is lacking at the moment is his hold up play or indeed any semblance of it. Last night he wasn’t even really trying to shield the ball or bring others into play. You can’t keep trying to turn everyone on halfway and run clear. Then again, this time last year he wasn’t even first choice in this team. So it’s early days.

Niall Ennis: Some similar issues to Wilson in that a lot of our attacks broke down when they reached the front two, particularly in the opening 20 minutes or so. But then he produces that finish for the opening goal. We’re not quite looking at Helder Costa vs Cardiff levels of making the keeper look silly, but not far off. Ice cool. It’s a crying shame that he lost a year of his development last year but it was no accident that before his injury, he was very close to being selected for the first team. Once he gets some more games under his belt (and depending who we sign between now and the close of the transfer window) then I would expect him to be pushing hard for inclusion once again. His talent demands it.

All change at half time and a completely different XI:

Rory Brown: Not that he did anything wrong (or even had a great deal to do), but there was something just not quite as convincing about him as Beasley. No chance with the goal, more on which later.

Dion Sanderson: Big lad for a full back. Looked very decent though. Composed enough on the ball and has an obvious physical presence.

Ben Goodliffe: Gave us a much more reassuring presence at the back than we’d had in the first half. Organised well, dealt with the broadly long ball threat from Bala and seems to be reasonably quick across the ground. Very vocal, too. Which meant that we learned that he is either extremely Welsh or assimilates local accents like a turbo Steve McClaren.

Adam Osbourne: One vital block at 2-1 was the standout moment for him. Fairly untroubled.

Joel Whittington: Believe me, I don’t like having a go at young players, especially on first viewing. It’s hard to see how this lad has made it as far as this through our Academy though. Positional play was all over the place – maybe in a Football Manager style, we’ve asked Matt Doherty to ‘mentor’ him – beaten far too easily a number of times, no pace to speak of and he supplied the assist for the Bala goal with a ludicrous header back across goal on his own six yard box under minimal pressure. As first impressions go, this was on the Mark Williams vs Fulham scale.

Carlos Heredia: If you were asked to draw up the prototype of a young, low key Spanish midfielder, you’d probably sketch up young Carlos (who does, as his unveiling photos suggest, look about 12). You can instantly see that his ball control and eye for a pass is already there. You can also see that he’s so slight that Norm from the Twix adverts would beat him in an arm wrestle. Started on the right and did ok in an understated way, but faded from the game when switched to the other side.

Elliott Watt: We decided to play long ball for some reason in the second half so Elliott spent 45 minutes essentially watching the ball sail over his head and occasionally putting in a few challenges on the Love Island wannabes in the Bala midfield.

Ryan Rainey: As above, but did get a goal right at the death with a well hit strike from 25 yards into the bottom corner. Though once again, the keeper showed the reactions of Grandad from Only Fools and Horses on Mogadon.

Andrew Sealey-Harris: Sounds like a mid-range solicitor, plays a bit like Ashley Young (when he was good). Threatens the full back on both sides and has plenty of pace, looked more at home on the right.

Jordan Allan: Tiny but refuses to be pushed around. Definite footballing intelligence on show as he made a number of excellent runs which took defenders away and made space for others. Would probably be tough at this stage for him to make an impact as a main striker, but definitely as a role to play as he develops.

Duckens Nazon: The Duck has been a minor figure of ridicule since we signed him from ultra-obscure origins. Having finally seen him play, he definitely isn’t all that bad at all. That is not to say that he’ll make it here, especially with our ambitions starting to skyrocket. But he’s no Frank Nouble-style joker. It would be fair to say that his first touch isn’t the best at this stage, but once he does get on the ball and start running at goal, he’s very hard to stop. Built like a middleweight boxer, he batters opponents out of the way and has a more than decent shot on him. Unlucky not to score on a couple of occasions. If – as remains likely – he doesn’t end up breaking into our first team, there are League One and Two teams who have far worse options up front. He also gave me a nod and a smile when I said “Well in, Duckens” to him after the warm up, which was nice. Well in, Duckens.

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  1. I both enjoyed and benefitted from reading your U23 player ratings, Dan.
    Many thanks.

  2. This is the first time I have seen and read your blog. Very impressive and I loved every sentence. Great comments about the Under 23 game at Bala. Will look forward eagerly to following your comments as this season progresses, hopefully successfully.
    The best factual article I have read on the Wolves in ages, and entertaining as well.
    I will certainly arrange to donate to your site but I appear to have lost touch with the form to do so. Perhaps. Dan, you could advise me how to arrange to donate.

    1. Hi John, I have the Donate button towards the top right of the site (on each article) but beyond that there is no other facility! If you can’t get it to work then don’t worry about it. Thanks for reading and for the comments.

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