By Luke Payne from MK Dons Worldwide on Facebook
Luke reviews the players performance from the game at Oakwell. Has he got them right ?
After a defeat courtesy of Derby last Saturday, we really needed a bounce back result away at Barnsley. At the very least there needed to be a committed performance showing more signs of improvement. Unfortunately, we fell short on both of these tasks and now find ourselves six points from safety at the wrong end of League One. Here’s how I rated the players after our 3-1 loss away at Barnsley:
Cumming – 5 (TOP DON): To concede three goals and still get given Top Don tells the story of this match in itself. This also breaks a record for the Player Rating’s series as the lowest-scoring Top Don I’ve ever given. Cumming made a number of saves in the later stages of the game to keep the scoreline down but that’s about as positive as his performance gets. Shaky at times in possession and too slow to release the ball. Totally flat-footed for Barnsley’s third goal of the game, allowing Kane’s effort to roll into the bottom corner after 68 minutes.
Watson – 4: Totally outclassed by Cadden in the first half, getting caught out time and time again allowing Barnsley to break through down our right wing and get balls into the box. Did however win a number of key headers and challenges but still looks off the pace in terms of match sharpness. Was slightly more aggressive with his positioning than Lawrence in the opposite wingback role but was still too content to sit back rather than committing to any sort of attack. Came off after 81 minutes as we continue to monitor his return from injury. Grigg came on to replace him as we switched to four at the back.
O’Hora – 3: Partially responsible for Barnsley’s first goal, allowing Kane to cross the ball without even attempting to go for a block. Was also one of many players with direct responsibility for Barnsley’s third goal, giving Kane acres of space again, this time allowing him to get a free shot on goal. Not dominant enough in the air, with particular reference to defensive corner’s where he’s supposed to go up for the majority of headers thanks to our zonal marking system. Did make a good amount of challenges and clearances but did little to prevent Watson getting overrun in the first half. Tried a few long balls forward but none of them were particularly accurate. Does deserve a little credit for being involved at the beginning of the move that led to our goal.
Lewington – 4: Struggled somewhat in possession with so little movement in front of him, but still tried to act as a creative spark by trying a few diagonal balls forward though his accuracy let him down. Often in the right place at the right time to defuse Barnsley’s attacks but was barely able to keep tabs on all of the attacking players coming towards our box.
Jules – 3.5: A tough one to give a rating to. Won a lot of important challenges and made a lot of vital blocks as well. However, a lot of these were due to him recovering from his own mistakes in possession. Gave the ball away a lot in our defensive third including for Barnsley’s third goal and he seemed reluctant to clear the ball whenever there wasn’t a clear passing option available. Has to take a lot of blame for Barnsley’s second goal as well alongside Lawrence as the pair seemed unable to organise or position themselves effectively in our own box which left Phillips with a free header from a central position. The resulting effort found the bottom corner which put Barnsley 2-1 up after 50 minutes.
Lawrence – 2.5: His good run of form comes to an end after switching to left wingback in the absence of Harvie. Heavily responsible for the first goal, allowing Williams to have a free volley from close range following a cross which put Barnsley 1-0 up after 18 minutes. Failed to get close to his man again for Barnsley’s second goal so shares responsibility for that as well. He regularly seemed to be in the wrong position when we were defending and didn’t really track his man properly. Played very cautiously and rarely made it into the opposition half even in spells where we had possession. Switched to right-back for the last ten or so minutes when Watson came off for Grigg.
Johnson – 3: Frequently gave the ball away with poor passes and his movement was practically non-existent when we had the ball, although he wasn’t the only one. Put in some stupid challenges in the later stages of the game and has to take some responsibility for the third goal we conceded, missing his challenge entirely and wiping out the man in the process. Even though advantage was played and capitalised on, he could’ve done so much more to prevent the chance. His only redeeming factor was his successful challenges in our defensive third, which saved us from dangerous attacks a number of times.
McEachran – 4.5: The only midfield, wingback or attacking player on our side with an acceptable level of movement when we were in possession. However, as the holding midfielder this only got us so far up the pitch before the lack of movement from the others became a problem. Broke up play well for the most part but did make a couple of mistakes, most notably not getting his body behind his challenge in the build-up to Barnsley’s third goal, with the ball ricocheting off the attacking player allowing him to escape McEachran and break through the middle of the pitch. Picked up a silly yellow card for booting the ball away in frustration in the first half after a free-kick decision went against him. Came off for Devoy after 69 minutes.
Holland – 3.5: Did very little for 35 minutes before becoming the catalyst for our equalising goal. He turned on the ball in our half and caught Barnsley on the break before playing the ball in to Barry who in turn found Eisa with the resulting shot making it 1-1 after 40 minutes. Started to get more involved in the second half but seemed to lose his passing ability in the process, giving the ball away needlessly multiple times when it looked like we might be able to fashion ourselves a chance. His work-rate let him down massively in this fixture and he provided very little support for Watson and didn’t make himself an outlet often enough which contributed to us getting penned into our own half for large chunks of the game.
Barry – 3.5: Like Holland he didn’t contribute enough at either end of the pitch, despite getting the assist for our goal. Very occasionally came back to help Lawrence but looked very isolated and didn’t make enough of an effort to create space higher up the pitch. Made a couple of dribbles into the final third but his end product let him down. Made a great run for our goal which allowed him to pick out Eisa with a low pass across the box before the striker fashioned a chance for himself. Came off for Burns after 68 minutes.
Eisa – 3.5: Took his goal nicely but didn’t offer much else besides a reminder of what the linesman’s flag looks like. Caught offside countless times and evidently needs to learn how to time his runs properly as he has enough speed that he can afford to give opposition defender’s that extra yard. For his goal he received the ball from Barry, before nutmegging his man and slotting the ball past Collins. It was a fantastic effort given that it was our first shot of the game after 40 minutes had been played. Found himself having to try and go up for headers as we resorted to booting the ball long in the second half.
Burns – 4.5 (SUB): Didn’t really contribute much when he came on. Brought a lot more energy but rarely got on the ball. Played the ball about nicely but struggled to have an impact beyond that having only been introduced after 68 minutes.
Devoy – 3 (SUB): More involved than Burns but for all the wrong reasons. Gave the ball away too many times which made it difficult to push up the pitch in a game where we should’ve been pushing to close the two goal deficit.
Grigg – 4.5 (SUB): Introduced in the last 10 minutes to partner Eisa up front but didn’t see much of the ball and ended up doing more defensive work than attacking.
TEAM PERFORMANCE – 2: The lowest team rating I’ve ever given. One mark for making it to the stadium and the other for walking onto the pitch before the game kicked off. There have been some poor performances this season but this offering was something else entirely. It was the look of a side that had given up. There was no desire to get back into the game or even just to have a shot and that is unforgiveable at any level of English football. None of the progress we made over the last few fixtures was visible and we struggled to get the basics right. Most village teams are taught how to pass and move so to see a group of professional footballers failing to do just that is despicable, especially when we consider ourselves to be a possession-based team.
There was no sign of the side that gave Derby a run for their money just one week ago. We showed way too much respect to a side that were beatable and ultimately paid the price for it. From a tactical standpoint this match was a disaster and there are questions that need to be asked. Why didn’t we make changes at half-time when we were getting dominated? Why did we only use three of our substitutes when we had more attacking options left on the bench? Why were we content to play so defensively even at 3-1 down? Why wasn’t Dennis in the match day squad if we were planning on playing counter-attacking football? We now have to hope that this game was just a one-off after the gradual improvements we’ve been making over the last few weeks. As someone that considers themselves to be an optimist…that’s the closest to a positive comment I can find from this journey up to Barnsley.
If you’ve read this far then thank you! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the game in the comments below and hopefully you enjoyed the read more than I enjoyed watching the match!