Paynes Player Ratings

Payne’s Player Ratings

By Luke Payne, reproduced by kind permission of MK Dons Worldwide on Facebook.

Payne’s Player Ratings vs Exeter (Home):

With no FA Cup game to worry about, The Dons welcomed Exeter City to Stadium MK. After a poor result in the reverse fixture, many were hoping that a new-look team would see a more positive score-line. Unfortunately this was not the case at all and Dons fell to a 2-0 defeat. Here’s how I rated the players following the loss to the Grecians:

Formation: 4-3-3

GK – Cumming – 6: Quite similar to the Shrewsbury game in the sense that he had little to do for the majority of the game. He was beaten by a penalty and a close range finish so hard to criticise him too much for either of the goals. Reasonable distribution for the most part and showed a good level of awareness throughout, both in and out of possession.

RB – Watson – 7.5 (TOP DON): Easily the standout player for this fixture, displaying a fantastic work ethic at both ends of the pitch. Regularly worked with Leko to break Exeter down on the right wing with particular regards to the first half. Showed good levels of aggression as well as composure and skill to retain possession in the game’s scrappier moments. Picked up a slight knock in the second half and despite playing on, he came off for Lawrence after 89 minutes.

RCB – Tucker – 2.5: This will likely go down as one of the poorest individual performances of the season. There’s a good player in there somewhere but Tucker’s mistakes were too blatant to ignore in this fixture. He struggled to deal with Nombe’s strength and got beaten far too easily when the former Don charged into the box before Jules took him out which resulted in a penalty and Exeter’s first goal. Also managed to play the ball directly to an Exeter player from a throw-in which gave them a dangerous break. Arguably could’ve stuck a foot out at Johnson’s headed effort late in the first half but he didn’t react to the ball flashing across goal.

Sadly the second half wasn’t an improvement as he was caught off-guard again, not reacting to a deflected ball that got in behind him. This in turn enabled Brown to run through on goal and score his second goal of the game after 67 minutes. In addition to all of this, he persisted with playing inaccurate long balls including one that went straight off the pitch. He did play a few good ones as well, including one that played Eisa through but it wasn’t enough to justify all the attempts. Needs to concentrate for the full 90 minutes.

LCB – Jules – 6: Has to take a big share of the blame for Exeter’s first goal when he slid in to dispossess Nombe. The referee decided he got too much of the man and pointed to the spot. There was an argument that Jules got the ball but given the position Nombe was in, Jules didn’t need to slide in and he shouldn’t have given the referee an opportunity to make a controversial decision. Brown went on to convert the penalty making it 1-0 after 37 minutes. Apart from this major error he played well, regularly twisting and turning in the middle third to retain possession, riding challenges to create space for other Dons players.

LB – Harvie – 6.5: As the longest-serving player at the club with the exception of Lewington, Harvie took the captain’s armband. He showed good composure on the ball and was involved in some nice link-up play with the likes of Kaikai and Johnson in the first half. On one occasion he made a fantastic sprint to get back and block a close range shot on goal in the second half. Picked up a yellow card for dissent.

CM – Maghoma – 5: Started the game well, playing the ball about nicely, keeping the play at a good tempo. However his positive impact faded as time went on, and he was making silly mistakes by the end of the game. Tried a shot or two but failed to hit the target. Perhaps fortunate to be the only starting midfielder to remain on the pitch the entire game.

CM – Johnson – 5.5: Similarly to Maghoma, he started well and faded over time. Had a couple of attempts on goal, hitting one effort off target from the edge of the box and his header just before halftime following a Kaikai corner was the wrong side of the post. Had a quiet second half and came off for McEachran after 68 minutes.

CAM – Devoy – 6.5: The standout player of the starting midfield trio. Had an early shot on goal saved comfortably by Andresson. Involved in most of our good attacking moves and he’s starting to look a lot more comfortable as the creative force in the centre of the pitch. He was much stronger in his challenges and showed flashes of skill to beat his man a few times. The ball did deflect off him for Exeter’s second goal but there wasn’t too much he could’ve done about it. Picked up a yellow card following Exeter being awarded a penalty. Came off for Grant after 68 minutes.

RW – Leko – 6: Had a good first half, creating a lot down the right with Watson in support. Played the ball into the box time and time again with mixed success rates. Did run the ball out of play a couple of times trying to beat his man and his impact lessened in the second half, resulting in Dean taking his place after 77 minutes.

ST – Eisa – 3: Had three golden opportunities to score but failed to hit the target on each occasion. The second chance was somewhat understandable although frustrating given the angle and the pressure on him from the Exeter defender. With this being said, he should’ve hit the target with his other two chances, slipping the ball the wrong side of the post both times. In addition to this he took a shooting opportunity away from Kaikai by rolling the ball away and trying to turn inside the box instead of letting the debutant shoot from the loose ball. Hit a free-kick well over the bar from a slightly optimistic position. Was involved in some good build-up play but as the striker he’s in the team to score goals. Given the service he had, there can be no excuses.

LW – Kaikai – 5.5: A mildly disappointing debut in the sense that like the rest of our players, he didn’t test the opposition keeper. Tried a couple of shots but couldn’t hit the target and had another shot blocked after Grant played him in. He did win us a few corners and his link-up play down the left was pretty handy at times but his impact was limited. Did leave Harvie exposed a couple of times as well. Came off for Grigg after 89 minutes.

SUB – McEachran – 6: Had a bit more presence in the middle of the pitch than Johnson and he broke up the play well. Didn’t offer much going forwards but helped to steady the ship as our players head’s started to drop.

SUB – Grant – 6.5: Almost immediately played two balls through that led to chances that we probably should’ve done more with, one for Eisa and one for Kaikai. Played the ball about nicely and gave our forward players ample opportunity to make their mark on the game.

SUB – Dean – 6: Didn’t get much time on the ball but brought a lot of energy and desire onto the pitch with him. Challenged for every ball which encouraged the midfield to wake up for the final minutes of the game.

SUB – Lawrence – 6: A cameo appearance where he didn’t get much of the ball, hard to comment on his performance either way.

SUB – Grigg – 6.5: More involved with his cameo appearance than Lawrence who came on alongside him. Had a headed effort on goal from a corner but would’ve been lucky to hit the target from the position he was in. A couple of minutes later he headed the ball to Eisa who put the resulting effort the wrong side of the post.

TEAM PERFORMANCE – 5.5: This was the second game in a row where the style of play has looked better. We showed good levels of control and created plenty of chances without giving Exeter too many at the other end. Unfortunately we were let down in key areas by a few individuals. If it weren’t for basic player errors we would be talking about a 3-0 victory instead of a 2-0 defeat. The reality is that’s not how it turned out and the players need to start taking accountability. The last two games have been almost identical in the sense that we created a lot of chances but rarely hit the target. Then at the other end we conceded to basic mistakes rather than our opposition actually having to break us down. The only major difference was the way we played for about 15 minutes in the second half where our heads dropped entirely until the subs started giving us a bit more life again.

There’s only so much a manager can do. He can set up a team to play a certain way and he controls who plays and who doesn’t. It’s then on the players to follow instructions and to do the basics right. You shouldn’t have to teach a League One striker how to hit the target from inside the box and you certainly shouldn’t have to teach a defender how to pass a football a few yards. I’ve seen improvements in our playstyle for the last couple of games but if you don’t have the quality in both boxes then there’s very little any manager can do to change the results. It’s on the players now to stand up and fight for their places, not just in the team but in the division as well.

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!

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