By Luke Payne, this article is brought to you by the kind permission of MK Dons Worldwide on Facebook.
Payne’s Player Ratings vs Lincoln (Home):
After a couple of weeks on the training pitch, the Dons returned to Stadium MK with the hopes of dragging Lincoln into the relegation scrap. As it turns out, neither side were able to break the deadlock and the game finished as it started, a 0-0 bore draw. At the very least it’s a point on the board. Here’s how I rated the players after the 0-0 result at home to Lincoln:
GK – Cumming – 6: Had a quiet day for the most part although was called into action a couple of times. Missed the ball when trying to punch clear from a set piece in the first half but fortunately for him play was pulled back for an offside shortly afterwards. Made one important save early in the second half but the rest of his game was mostly feeding the ball to Tucker and Jules as we looked to play out from the back.
RB – Watson – 5.5: Defensively solid and he put in a number of challenges, but he was incredibly reluctant to attack, particularly in the first half. Had plenty of space to run into more often than not but he chose to stay back and only really ventured into the opposition half in the later stages of the game.
RCB – Tucker – 6.5 (TOP DON): Composed on the ball and played mistake-free football. Wasn’t overly threatened by Lincoln’s attackers although he did put in a couple of vital tackles in the first half and was almost caught out by a press from the opposition late in the second half. Tried the occasional ball over the top with mixed success rates. Played a smart header across Lincoln’s goal following a set piece but Lincoln were able to clear before a Dons player could get on the end of it. Perhaps could’ve used the space in front of him more often but a respectable performance nonetheless.
LCB – O’Hora – 6.5: Similarly to Tucker he showed a great level of composure on the ball and he won an important header in the first half to prevent a Lincoln chance. Had a lot of control over the game and was an early shout for Top Don until he unfortunately went down injured and had to come off for Jules after 30 minutes.
LB – Harvie – 6.5: Showed a bit more drive than Watson on the other side and did make a couple of dribbles through the middle of the pitch. Also played a lovely cross for Grigg in the second half but the striker’s effort was blocked. Was good from a defensive point of view as well, winning the majority of his battles though he almost got overloaded on one occasion in the first half. Fortunately Jules was quick to get across and block the resulting shot.
CM – Devoy – 6: The most convincing out of the starting midfield trio. Broke down play well and made a number of sprints to get back and stop attacks. Appeared in pockets of space in an attempt to get us further up the pitch and was involved in our better spells of build-up play. He tried to thread through our forward players a number of times in the second half but all of those chances were broken down quickly. Still gets too easily baited into committing himself and making silly challenges. He also needs to work on his corner taking but a more promising performance than his other recent displays.
CM – McEachran – 5: Put a lot of work in and had his hands on his knees from exhaustion by the 80th minute. However it just wasn’t his day. His passing radar was totally off, misplacing even basic passes at times and he did pick up a yellow card for a big sliding challenge in Lincoln’s half. Did try a number of diagonal balls forward but they rarely came off. Can’t fault his work-rate but simply didn’t have enough in the tank to last a full 90 minutes.
CM – Robson – 5: Floated about without really having an impact. His break-up play was reasonable but he played very safe in possession and wasn’t prepared to try and break down Lincoln’s defence. As such he wasn’t really involved in any key moments in the match and he came off after 57 minutes for Johnson.
RW – Barry – 4.5: Spent most of his time on the ball running away from goal. Tried a couple of flicks to play the ball in behind Lincoln’s defence but couldn’t find his man on either attempt. Continued to have a quiet game in the second half and was swiftly replaced by Dennis after 57 minutes.
ST – Eisa – 5.5: Isolated for most of the first half so spent the entire time chasing loose ends. Was more involved in the second half, notably after he moved to right wing to accommodate Dennis’ introduction. Wasted the biggest chance of the game when all he had to do was gently cut the ball back across goal to Dennis for a tap in but he put way too much on the ball and it went flying past before Dennis could get a touch. Had a penalty shout later in the half but he went down easily and the ref waved away his appeals. His build-up play from the wing was good and he helped to get the midfield involved in the final third.
LW – Holland – 4.5: Like Barry he didn’t really offer anything of note in the first half, other than mis-controlling the ball on the two occasions he had the ball in an advanced position. Improved slightly in the second half and had our first real chance of the game, earning a corner for his shot on goal. This gave us a bit of momentum as we created a number of chances after that point. However, he picked up an injury which forced us to use our final sub of the game earlier than planned. Grigg came on to take his place after 66 minutes.
SUB – Jules – 6.5: Proved to be just as solid as the man he replaced and he kept Lincoln’s chances to a minimum. Put in a number of blocks and challenges and looked comfortable in possession as well. Made a couple of runs into Lincoln’s half but didn’t have the same freedom to attack that he did with the 5-2-3 formation.
SUB – Johnson – 5.5: Not quite as impactful as perhaps hoped but he did ensure that we had control over the game and he prevented Lincoln from playing on the break. Needed to get more involved in the final third.
SUB – Dennis – 6: It’s no coincidence that most of our chances came after Dennis came on. Unlucky not to be on the scoresheet after Eisa over-hit a ball across goal that would’ve given Dennis a tap in after 58 minutes. Tried a couple of shots on goal but they were easy claims for Rushworth. Was a bit clumsy at times but he offered drive, which is something the attack was missing. Moved to left wing after Grigg came on and was always looking to play the ball forward, though he was stopped in his tracks most times he tried to turn his man.
SUB – Grigg – 4.5: Didn’t have the legs to break down Lincoln’s defence and was second best on most balls he went for, whether it was an aerial challenge or a sprint race. Did win a header in the box following a Harvie cross but his effort was blocked. Offered very little presence in the box otherwise.
TEAM PERFORMANCE – 5.5: From a team perspective we showed a great level of control over the fixture, rarely allowing Lincoln to get a foothold in the game. Most of the game was played in the opposition half and the defence picked up a fairly comfortable clean sheet. With this being said there was very little attacking intent in the first half. After the first ten minutes it looked like our midfield had finally found themselves, rotating nicely and creating a bridge between our defence and our forward players. However, they shifted back into old habits for the rest of the game which left our forwards isolated. These players have a lot of work to do if we are to fully implement the aggressive playstyle Jackson talks about as the static build-up play couldn’t be further from the style of play we’re aiming for. The second half was an improvement once the subs started taking place but after a good twenty minutes where we wasted our best opportunities to score, the game fizzled out.
There are two other major concerns following this game. Firstly, O’Hora and Holland going off injured is a major blow. With Lewington, Burns and Kayode already side-lined, there has to be growing anxiety that we’ve lost a lot of our depth, particularly at centre-back where we’re now down to bare bones. Hopefully new signing Leko will be joined by further reinforcements before the next game otherwise the bench may start to look a bit sparse.
The other major concern is our reluctance to shoot. Barry’s struggling for end product and Holland hasn’t found consistency yet though it remains to be seen whether his injury will prevent him from playing again next game. Even Eisa has struggled in front of goal recently which is peculiar given that we’re starting to create better chances than we had in some of the games earlier in the season where he got on the scoresheet. Leko will have a lot of pressure on him as he will no doubt play a part in our next fixture away against Forest Green on 25th January.
If you’ve read this far then thank you! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the game in the comments below and I hope you enjoyed the read!