By Luke Payne from MK Dons Worldwide
Payne’s Player Ratings vs Newport (Home) – EFL Trophy Edition:
After an abysmal display in the league, we needed to bounce back with a win, even if it was only in a cup competition. A heavily-rotated Dons side took to the pitch in an unexpected 4-2-3-1 formation at Stadium MK against League Two opposition Newport County. We were able to secure our place in the round of 16 with a 3-1 victory. Here’s how I rated the players after our EFL Trophy win:
Cumming – 6.5: Made a few routine saves in addition to one or two more impressive ones. Not too much he could’ve done about the goal given that it was deflected off Tucker which in turn wrong- footed the keeper. Played a couple of poor balls out but apart from that his distribution was of a reasonable level.
Oyegoke – 6: Had a poor first half, making a lot of unforced errors. Failed to track his man for one of Newport’s better chances of the game. He seemed reluctant to push into the opposition half and found himself passing backwards towards Tucker more often than not. Came out of his shell in the second half and started to make life difficult for the Newport defenders, even getting a couple of shots off, one of which resulted in Dennis’ goal after the fullback’s effort got deflected.
Tucker – 6.5: Solid for most of the game and minimised the threat that the likes of Bogle could pose. He’s starting to look a lot more comfortable in possession now and he tried a few over-the-top balls with a significantly improved level of accuracy. Got the assist for the opening goal after winning the header from Devoy’s corner, which allowed Burns to score. Probably would’ve been in contention for Top Don until the 85th minute where a Newport forward received the ball in the box and went for goal, with the effort blatantly deflecting off Tucker and into the net. With the exception of the own goal, he put in a reasonable display.
O’Hora – 7: Took on the captaincy role and played as the left centre-back. Looked very composed at the back and played error-free football. Won a number of challenges and got us out of some tricky situations with some pinpoint passes. Came off after 82 minutes for Jules so there were no goals conceded with O’Hora on the pitch.
Harvie – 6.5: Put in a good performance from a defensive point of view, restricting Newport to very little down the left and he won his fair share of headers and challenges. His short and mid-range passing was nice and consistent but his long passes and crosses left a lot to be desired. Like Oyegoke he was able to play higher up the pitch in the second half.
Robson – 6.5: Struggled somewhat in the first half, making a few mistakes in possession. He was quite defensive and rarely passed the ball forwards which led to some slow passages of play where we perhaps could’ve looked to push forwards quickly. Started to improve in the second half and became more of a pivot point in the side, allowing players to give the ball to him and run into space.
Managed to get himself an assist after playing Grigg through on goal which made it 3-0 after 77 minutes. With this being said, his break-up play was good for the entirety of the game, and he prevented Newport from being able to counter-attack effectively.
Devoy – 6: Had a fairly quiet game. He took set pieces in the absence of McEachran, one of which resulted in the first goal of the game. Broke up play fairly well but did have a shaky moment in defence where Cumming played him a hospital pass which Devoy was unable to get rid of. He quickly lost possession but Newport were unable to capitalise. He came off for McEachran after 63 minutes.
Burns – 6.5: A difficult one to give a rating to. Was very frustrating to watch as there were times where he made the wrong decision on the ball or just gave it away too cheaply. However, he set up Grant for one of our early chances and went on to score an acrobatic effort after Tucker headed the ball to him, giving us a 1-0 lead after 27 minutes. Made a number of dribbles across both halves with
a mixed success rate. Came off for Kemp after 82 minutes.
Grant – 6.5: Had a few nice touches and was involved in a lot of our first half chances. Had an early chance to score but hit his effort straight at Townsend in the Newport goal. Tried a few balls into the box with little success and did have a couple of other half-chances as well. Did have a quiet spell in the second half but he did play a lovely through ball for Kemp to set up one of our last opportunities of the game.
Barry – 5: Had a very quiet game by his standards. Wasn’t really involved much and his one shot of the game went flying off target. Did try to dribble into the box a couple of times but he couldn’t fashion any chances from it. Continued to be anonymous at the start of the second half and quickly came off for Holland after 52 minutes.
Dennis – 7 (TOP DON): Made life difficult for the Newport defenders and helped to create a lot of chances. Chased a lot of through balls and almost caught out defenders a number of times. Good on the ball and played a couple of nice flicks through to teammates in the first half. Continued to be a menace in the second half, and was rewarded for his liveliness when he got on the end of a deflection from Oyegoke’s shot and he rifled the ball into the goal to make it 2-0 after 59 minutes.
Almost scored again a couple of minutes later after he beat Townsend to a cross, but his headed effort was off target and the keeper managed to injure Dennis in the process. He couldn’t continue and limped off after 62 minutes with Grigg taking his place.
Holland – 7 (SUB): It’s no coincidence that the quality of our attacks improved when he came on. He showed a lot more energy than he had previously against Barnsley and was key to a lot of our second half attacks. Picked out a lot of good passes to get us further up the pitch and played a lovely low cross for Grigg that the striker couldn’t quite connect with.
Grigg – 6.5 (SUB): Marked his substitute appearance with a goal from open play, getting on the end of Robson’s through ball before lobbing Townsend from close range to make it 3-0 after 77 minutes. Could’ve had two more goals to his name if he got on the end of low crosses from Holland and McEachran respectively but Townsend was able to beat him to the ball both times. His passing was good and he supported the defence nicely as well.
McEachran – 6.5 (SUB): Kept things ticking along nicely and broke up the play well. Played a great low cross for Grigg that the striker didn’t quite connect with. He had a lot of control over the middle third of the pitch as we closed out the game.
Jules – 5.5 (SUB): A little shaky in his cameo appearance. Did lose the ball in our defensive third on one occasion but nothing came from it luckily. Apart from this he was ok in possession but did look a little more exposed than O’Hora.
Kemp – 6.5 (SUB): Lively as ever on his return to the side. Made some great runs and got himself in some good positions. Did have a couple of shots on goal but they either went off target or were comfortably saved by Townsend. He got involved as much as he could and displayed a good work rate. However, he gave the Newport forward way too much time to cross the ball for their consolation goal.
TEAM PERFORMANCE – 6.5: The first half was an improvement on the game against Barnsley but still under par. We played too defensively and allowed Newport to attack way too frequently. We were quite slow on the ball but we were still able to create a number of chances and fortunately we made one of them count. The second half was significantly better for the most part. We started to move the ball about quicker and forced Newport to play deeper in their half. The goal we conceded was disappointing given how much control we had over the game at that point but ultimately we got the job done, getting minutes into the legs of some of our reserve players in the process.
A couple of players have made a case for themselves with regards to getting into the starting squad in the league, most notably Dennis who managed to get on the scoresheet once again. This should give Manning a little bit of a selection headache especially since the team that starts in the league rarely seems to deliver. However, before the next league game is yet another cup fixture.
This time it’s Portsmouth away in the FA Cup on Saturday where we’ll have the opportunity to continue our impressive run in cup fixtures.
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.