By Luke Payne reproduced by kind permission of MK Dons Worldwide on Facebook.
The final game of 2022 ends with a loss. An away trip to Peterborough a few days after the home win to Forest Green proved to be too much for Jackson’s men as the Dons fell to a 2-0 defeat. Unfortunately this was another iFollow game for me, but here’s how I rated the players after our final game of the calendar year:
Formation: 5-2-3 (Switched to 4-2-3-1 after 80 minutes).
GK – Cumming – 7.5 (TOP DON): Seeing Top Don this high in the article is never a good sign for how the team performed. As such, Cumming had to make a number of important saves across the 90 minutes including denying Clarke-Harris from the penalty spot after 62 minutes. His long range distribution was questionable at times but it’s a bit more understandable when there are pacey Peterborough attackers running at you.
RWB – Watson – 6.5: Similarly to his last game, he started well and seemed to be more consistent than most of his teammates. He was eager to get forward and had our first shot on target of the game in addition to a lot of clean build-up play down the right wing. Mostly solid in defence but was a little exposed at times with very little support from the likes of Holland and Devoy. Picked up an injury after 60 minutes and came off for Lawrence as a result.
RCB – Tucker – 4: After showing signs of improvement in the last few games, this game proved to be a big learning curve for the centre-back. He struggled to deal with the pace and the relentless press of the Peterborough forward line. Made a few mistakes in possession and despite putting some decent challenges in, it wasn’t enough to stop the opposition from breaking through down his side multiple times. Perhaps a bit unlucky with Peterborough’s second goal where a through ball deflected off Watson and then again off Tucker to put Jones through on goal. The forward finished the move easily making it 2-0 after 48 minutes. Came off after 80 minutes for Robson which prompted the change in formation late on.
CB – O’Hora – 6: Not his finest game but he fared better against Peterborough’s forwards than Tucker and Jules either side of him. Did let a couple of shots get through in positions where he should’ve been able to block but otherwise he did get stuck in and prevented his fair share of attacks. Looked composed on the ball and was the starting point for a lot of our possession play.
LCB – Jules – 5: A tough one to give a rating to. Prevented a lot of attacks with his strong aerial presence and his willingness to get stuck in. However, he did also make a number of unusual mistakes in possession and gave a penalty away (even if it did seem like a soft decision). Can’t really fault him directly for either of the goals but it certainly wasn’t his best game.
LWB – Harvie – 5: The hero of the last game unfortunately wasn’t the answer this time around. He got caught out a number of times and he should’ve blocked Ward’s shot in the 38th minute but it went through his legs and found the net which put Peterborough 1-0. With this being said, he had very little defensive support from Barry which made it easier to overload the left side of our defence. Had a little bit of success at the other end of the pitch and was involved in some of our best play, including heading slightly wide from a corner in the second half.
RCM – Devoy – 4.5: His passing was at a good level for the majority of the game but the defensive side of his game let him down massively. He was too lightweight in a lot of his tackles and he missed his challenge for both Peterborough goals. In addition to this his positional play wasn’t quite right. He was sometimes in the right place but at some points he was floating around not really supporting the defence or the attack. Moved into a more attacking role when we switched to the 4-2-3-1 but the game was gone by that point.
LCM – McEachran – 5.5: Wasn’t overly involved in our attacking moves but he broke up the play fairly well. Found himself sitting quite deep in order to support the defence but wasn’t really looking to play it forward whenever he did get on the ball. Came off for Johnson after 58 minutes.
RF – Holland – 5: Didn’t really have the same impact as he did against Forest Green last time out. Struggled early on to string his passes together and wasted a number of opportunities just from misplacing the final ball. Looked to be on the verge of a break down the right on one occasion but got pulled back dramatically by Burrows who swiftly received a yellow card for his troubles. Was the victim of a half-time substitution, coming off for Grant at the break.
ST – Grigg – 5: It looked like a frustrating game for the striker who spent a lot of the time battling Peterborough defenders and having his shirt pulled rather than actually playing football. His build-up and hold-up play was ok given what he was up against but he didn’t capitalise on the one clear opportunity he had when he found himself in space. Barry played the ball across but Grigg’s touch let him down which quickly saw a turn of possession in Peterborough’s favour. Had a quiet start to the second half and came off for Eisa after 59 minutes as result.
LF – Barry – 5: Dribbled a lot but lacked purpose in the final third. Played one or two nice balls but wasted countless chances from trying to do another step-over instead of releasing the ball. Didn’t really do enough to support the defence and he probably should’ve been tracking Ward for Peterborough’s first goal given that Ward made a late charge towards our box.
SUB – Grant – 4: Had an entire half to work with but brought very little to the side. Spent most of the time chasing ghosts and he gave possession away too easily on a semi-frequent basis.
SUB – Johnson – 5: Played the ball about nicely but spent too much of the time in the wrong positions, being sat too deep when we’re attacking and then too far forward when we’re defending.
SUB – Eisa – 5.5: Didn’t really do much wrong but just couldn’t get involved in the game. Without Holland and McEachran on the field, he struggled for service.
SUB – Lawrence – 6: Not quite as impressive as Watson, but put in a solid performance in his absence. Did very well to protect Tucker from fast Peterborough attacks a number of times.
SUB – Robson – 6: A late change allowing us to switch formation but it didn’t really alter the course of the game. Robson was solid enough and played the ball about well but didn’t really have that much of an impact.
TEAM PERFORMANCE – 4.5: This was a very poor performance from a team perspective. There were some nice passages of play and some good defensive work as well but when that many players have a bad day at the office, you’re not really going to stand a chance of getting anything from the game. The defence looked petrified at times having to deal with two or three fast attackers at the same time and the midfield went back to floating about aimlessly like they did in our poor runs of form earlier in the season. This made it very difficult for our attacking players to get involved but as it turns out they were also having a poor day and they struggled to make any chances count even in the short spells we were on top.
Overall there was simply a difference in quality. Peterborough had a lot of half chances and very few clear cut ones, but those clear cut chances were taken very well whilst our best chances didn’t even test Blackmore in the Peterborough goal. Based on this performance, a lot of evaluation needs to be done. Firstly on who the starting team should be as we’re already rotating a lot of our players again, but also on who has a future at this club. A lot of these players have potential, but League One might be a step too far too soon. It’s a gamble to play them all week in week out, and gambling isn’t really how you want to approach a relegation scrap. We’re fortunate to have a big window of opportunity (quite literally) with January ahead of us!
If you’ve read this far then thank you! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the game and on how you think we should approach this January transfer window in the comments below. I hope you enjoyed the read!