By Luke Payne, MK Dons Worldwide on Facebook
Payne’s Player Ratings vs Derby (Home):
At long last there’s a league game in November! We found ourselves hosting Derby County, one of the fallen giants of League One. However, we were the ones falling on this occasion, losing 3-1despite opening the scoring ourselves.
Here’s how I rated the players after our 3-1 defeat at home to Derby:
Cumming – 6: Wasn’t required to make too many saves but still found himself letting three goals in. With this being said he wasn’t really at fault for any of those goals with defensive players letting him down on each occasion. Made a couple of poor decisions in possession that could’ve caused problems if our defenders hadn’t been on hand to recover quickly. These mistakes were likely due to feeling the pressure of Derby’s high pressing tactic which they stopped doing so much once they had a lead to protect.
Lawrence – 7: Very good defensively, making a number of important challenges including a few times where he had backtracked from high up the pitch to get stuck in and protect our goal. Looked comfortable on the ball and tried to get involved in our build-up play as well. Had one attempt on goal in the second half but his effort was wide of the mark. Switched to left wingback after Watson came on. Our most consistent player alongside McEachran in this fixture.
O’Hora – 5.5: Directly at fault for Derby’s first goal, failing to win the header from a corner therefore allowing Roberts to score the equaliser after 43 minutes. Mostly ok on the ball and did do a lot of good defensive work, but did struggle to deal with Derby’s physicality at times.
Lewington – 6.5: Totally unfazed by Derby’s physical presence but did have to persevere when dealing with the pace of their forwards. Was caught out by a corner routine in the 21st minute and like O’Hora he failed to win his header, but fortunately Dobbin’s resulting goal was ruled out for offside. Composed on the ball and helped us to play out from the back, even more so when Derby started to drop deeper in the second half.
Jules – 6: Looked quite unsettled at times in the first half, perhaps there were a few nerves as a result of Derby’s relentless pressing. Seemed to calm down as the game went on and did try a couple of dribbles into the opposition half. Did get caught out on a few occasions, letting his man get the wrong side of him but he was able to recover more often than not. Heavily responsible for Derby’s third goal as he gave Mendez-Laing way too much time and space to control a long ball. He was then able to beat Jules for both pace and skill and this attack eventually led to Mendez-Laing sealing the win after 79 minutes.
Harvie – 6.5: Good on the ball and battled well, despite having to nurse an injury for the majority of the match. Did need to track back a little quicker at times as Jules was fairly exposed against Derby’s attackers. Tried one or two crosses but his accuracy let him down and did have an opportunity to shoot in the first half but his effort got blocked. Couldn’t shake off his injury and had to come off after 62 minutes with Watson taking his place.
Johnson – 5.5: Had a number of key moments across the 90 minutes but not always for the right reasons. Takes most of the blame for the second goal, winning his header from a free-kick but instead of clearing it, he put it straight into the path of Collins who was then able to give Derby a 2-1 lead after 53 minutes.
Did have a great effort on goal denied by Wildsmith in the first half, with the midfielder heading it towards the bottom corner following a McEachran free-kick. Won a lot of headers but most of them lacked control and didn’t reach their intended targets. Played a lot of poor passes but did put a shift in to try and counter the large presence Derby had in midfield.
McEachran – 7: Very good at breaking up the play and made it hard for Derby to create clear cut chances even though they had a few dominant spells. Hit a lot of good balls into the box from set pieces that we failed to capitalise on but did fail to make it past the first man on a couple of occasions.
Played a ball forward to Holland in the first half who went on to get the assist for our goal. Looked relaxed on the ball to the point that he almost got complacent and gave the ball away but quickly recovered and carried on with his composed performance. Heavily involved in our build-upplay throughout the match and seems to have found his rhythm in the middle of this Dons team.
Holland – 7: Showed a great level of versatility, playing as a left central midfielder for part of the second half in addition to playing both inside forward roles. Started as an inside forward in our usual 5-2-3 formation and was regularly involved in our build-up play. Provided the assist for our goal, playing the ball through for Barry who went on the convert the chance.
Moved into central midfieldas we changed to a 5-3-2 system at halftime and was started to have even more influence on our attacking play, regularly setting teammates up to play crosses into the box or to get them into shooting positions. Looked assured on the ball throughout and came off for Burns after 84 minutes as we switched back to the 5-2-3 formation.
Barry – 7.5 (TOP DON): Brilliant on the ball, and regularly showed great footwork and trickery to turn his marker and create space. Played Grigg through on goal in the first minute of the game but the striker couldn’t convert. Heavily involved in our build-up throughout the first half and got his name on the scoresheet, getting on the end of Holland’s ball through before rounding the Derby keeper and placing the ball into the back of the net after 41 minutes.
Went down with a head injury shortly before half-time. Although he played out the rest of the half, he didn’t return to the pitch and Eisa took his place.
Grigg – 6: Had a golden opportunity to open the scoring in the first minute of the game, but his shot was saved well by Wildsmith in a one-on-one scenario. Came back to help the defence a number of times but his lack of presence at the other end of the pitch was concerning in the first half.
Started the second half brightly, forcing another good save out of Wildsmith and tried to get more involved in the build-up play. Played a few nice passes to create space in Derby’s defence but wasn’t able to fashion anymore shooting opportunities and came off for Dennis after 84 minutes.
Eisa – 6.5 (SUB): Set up Grigg for a chance within minutes of coming on but didn’t look as lively as Barry did in the first half. Pressed well and did manage to win a header in the box but his effort wasn’t really controlled and went flying over the bar. Won a couple of set pieces in Derby’s half but wasn’t able to create any other chances for himself.
Watson – 5 (SUB): Perhaps a little harsh considering he’s still returning from injury but he struggled to get into the game. Got stuck in but didn’t have the same level of control as he had in the cup fixture against Morecambe. Did play a few nice passes in fairly advanced positions but did little to alter the result of the match.
Burns – 6 (SUB): A late change in an attempt to go more attacking for the final minutes of the game. Didn’t see too much of the ball but played it about well enough on the occasions he was involved.
Dennis – 6.5 (SUB): Enabled us to switch back to our original 5-2-3 that we started the game with. Brought a lot of energy and put a lot of pressure on Derby’s defence, even wiping out Wildsmith in an attempt to win the ball high up the pitch. He got a yellow card for his efforts but there’s no faulting his effort or commitment. Tried to get on the ball as much as he could and tried to push us further up the pitch.
TEAM PERFORMANCE – 6: This may have been a loss, but it certainly didn’t feel like our other defeats this season. There was a clear show of commitment from the players and they battled well in a difficult fixture. I keep talking about progress and the importance of improving the way we play every week and it felt like there was still a lot of progress made on that pitch today despite the scoreline. We were able to cause Derby some problems at the back and if not for some poor finishing and a few good saves we may well have been talking about a different result entirely.
The margins between victory and defeat are much closer than they have been previously and we’re starting to play much more like a unit. There are still weaknesses in the side, most notably our inability to defend from set piece situations. There are a few individuals in the side that need to find more consistency as well but we’ve now proven that we can play some good football at times.
We have another opportunity to improve away against Barnsley next Saturday so it’ll be interesting to see how Manning tweaks the team after this performance.
If you’ve read this far then thank you, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the game and I hope you enjoyed the read.