Today on Hammy End we’re going to try a new(ish) feature – player ratings. For those of you who didn’t manage to see the game on Saturday for whatever reason, and even for those who did, here’s my view (with some contributions from my partner in crime for the day, Gatesy) on how the boys did;
David Stockdale – 8, a couple of slight fumbles but otherwise a good solid performance, well tested by the Bolton attack and save by the woodwork on one occasion. Huge props if he really didn’t know he was playing until Saturday. Managed to avoid the numerous Sub-Way wrapper obstacles which blew across the Reebok turf like tumbleweeds with great regularity.
Stephen Kelly – 7, as usual I’ll be in a minority of one here but, considering he was playing out of position in place of the injured Paul Konchesky (or Can Jet Ski if you work as a BBC subtitlist), I thought he did well. Some good clearances and some good passes into the Bolton penalty area too, but he’ll get found out by better teams as he has no left foot.
Brede Hangeland – 6, a couple of rare mistakes from the big man but still a dependable part of the back 4.
Aaron Hughes – 6, fairly anonymous. Did his job and kept Bolton quiet. Nothing spectacular but no major muff ups either.
John Pantsil – 6, got back well to stop a few Trotters attacks with some decent challenges, but was also keen on sending short balls back to the rookie keeper. You know what you’re getting with Pants and it was business as usual from the Ghanaian.
Damien Duff – 7, he works hard that Duff, you have to give him that. Switching sides and getting the ball into the centre for Zamora, Gera and Dempsey, he’s another that I thought did a reasonable job.
Dickson Etuhu – 5, not his best display ever, losing possession and going in for some risky challenges. Was the weakest link in the team and again better teams will capitalise on this. Throwing his shirt into the travelling Whites at the end of the game was the one time he was brave enough to have a shot all afternoon…
Danny Murphy – 6, looking fitter than he did at the end of last season, the break has obviously done him good. Along with the rest of the midfield, seemed too shy to shoot on goal and preferred to try and walk it into the net.
Simon Davies – 6, had a much better second half than first although that’s not saying an awful lot. Was unlucky not to get a goal late into the game.
Zoltan Gera – 6, didn’t seem at his best to me and perhaps not to Mark Hughes, who substituted him with Clint Dempsey after 74 minutes. Had an attempt at a spectacular overhead shot on goal in the second half, but to be honest, it was never gonna come off.
Bobby Zamora – 6.5, came close a few times despite being used as a climbing frame for much of the game. He was booked so I’ve knocked a bit off but for the life of me I couldn’t tell you what for. Ask the ref. Along with the rest of the team he probably could have made more use of ‘man of the match’ Zat Knight’s tendency to panic and fall over if you run at him..
Clint Dempsey – 7, made a good impact as a sub coming on for Gera after 74 minutes. A sneaky back pass to Zamora on the edge of the 6 yard box was probably one of the nearest we got.
Verdict – usual school report stuff of “could do better” but it’s early in the season, it was away and it was against Bolton. The team would benefit decent cover at left back as we seemed to miss an overlap on the left. Etuhu wasn’t hugely influential in the centre either. But the big positive to come out of the game was Stockdale who looked more than capable after a few shaky moments early on.
And one last rating from Gatesy;
Tea – 3, sixty pence cheaper than at the Cottage. Cup came half full with no tea bag in it. Physically hotter than the sun and tasted faintly of chocolate. Will take some beating to find a worse cup this season, but it didn’t stop me having a second cup at half time.