Having joined Championship side Blackburn Rovers on a season-long loan from Brighton during the summer transfer window, seemingly with the view to gaining yet more first-team experience, Christian Walton has certainly done just that.
So far this season, the 24-year-old has been an ever-present in the league for Tony Mowbray’s side, starting all 16 Championship league games Blackburn have played in the current campaign.
But after what had been a largely promising starting to the campaign for both Walton and his temporary club as a whole, things have started to hit something of a downward spiral over the past few weeks.
Going into the October international break of the back of a 4-2 defeat to QPR which, as a goalkeeper, will have frustrated Walton as much as anyone given the goals they conceded, things didn’t really improve for Rovers in the next run of games, and the Brighton man unfortunately has to be the focus of some of the scrutiny for that.
Following a 2-2 draw at home to Huddersfield where Walton may feel he should have done better when it came to keeping out Juninho Bacuna for Huddersfield’s equaliser, and a 1-0 defeat at Birmingham, Walton would come under heavy fire as Rovers travelled to Preston late in October.
After Blackburn had given themselves a 2-0 half time lead thanks to a Declan Rudd own goal and Sam Gallagher’s strike, Walton would endure a horrible moment early in the second period, completely misjudging Darnell Fisher’s cross, allowing Sean Maguire to set up Tom Barkhuizen pull one back for Preston.
Walton was then unable to do anything about Daniel Johnson’s penalty or Tom Barkhuizen’s wonder strike as Preston came from behind to win 3-2, and speaking after that defeat, Mowbray was far from impressed with Walton’s contribution for Preston’s opening goal, and went onto claim that had they not scored there, they would not have found a way back into the game.
That defeat was followed some welcome respite for Walton and Blackburn, with a much-needed 2-1 win at home to Sheffield Wednesday, where despite arguably being at fault for failing to deal with the cross that led to the Owls’ 83rd-minute opener, the Brighton loanee was able to redeem himself with a crucial late save from Sam Hutchinson to secure the three points for Rovers.
It would however, be a rather fleeting upturn in fortunes for Blackburn, who would slip to another defeat the following week, losing 2-1 at Leeds, thanks to Jack Harrison’s effort and a penalty from Patrick Bamford.
As a result Blackburn went into the November international break 18th in the Championship table, five points clear of the relegation places and ten adrift of the play-offs, which is some way from where they wanted to be at the start of the current campaign.
From a personal perspective, while the lack of a real genuine alternative means Walton is likely to continue in goal at least until Blackburn get the chance to add to their goalkeeping options in the January transfer, the costly errors that have you feel the goalkeeper is still going to have to up his game somewhat, if he is going to have any hope of forcing his way into the Brighton first-team when he returns to the AMEX Stadium next summer.
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