Alex Mowatt rolled back the years on Saturday as he slotted home the only goal in Oxford United’s 1-0 away win at Bristol Rovers.
It’s a long time, however, since Mowatt was busting the net for Leeds United. The Doncaster-born midfielder was named as Leeds Fans’ Player of the Year as recently as 2015 but his career has taken a shocking decline since.
While fellow former Whites graduates Lewis Cook and Sam Byram, once Mowatt’s equals in the first-team, headed for the Premier League, the former England Under-20 international has gone in the other direction.
Mowatt ended his 13 year association with Leeds in January but not by earning a move to the top flight. Instead, he joined Yorkshire rivals Barnsley for just £600,000 (YEP) and copped a straight red on his debut – before being shunted out to League One Oxford on a season-long loan in August.
And while Mowatt’s well-taken winner away at Rovers suggests that the one-time Elland Road favourite is starting to get his career back on track, the goal should not overshadow the fact that he has started just one League One game all season – a 3-0 defeat to Bury.
In fact, six of Mowatt’s seven appearances have come from the bench – though he hasn’t been helped by the excellent form of Jack Payne.
“There’s a huge player inside of him and it showed he can be calm in a difficult moment like that and was able to have a quality finish,” former Leeds assistant coach Pep Clotet, now the manager of Oxford, told the Oxford Mail.
That ‘huge player’, however, still looks a long way from realising his full potential. He has plenty of time on his side at 22 but you wonder if Mowatt will ever live up to the promise he showed at Leeds.