By Luke Payne by kind permission of MK Dons Worldwide on Facebook
Payne’s Player Ratings vs Bristol Rovers (Away):
First things first, apologies for the delay in getting these ratings out, I had personal matters that needed attending to. Now… onto the football!
With many fearing the fixtures list this month, it was important to get a positive result away against mid-table Bristol Rovers. Despite some antics off the field prior to kick-off regarding ticket sales, The Dons were able to win the battle on the pitch, coming away 2-0 winners. Here’s how I rated the players after our successful visit to the Memorial Stadium:
GK – Cumming – 7: An easy day at the office for the keeper. Had very little to do in terms of shot-stopping and only really had to claim a few stray balls into the box. Looked alert and distributed the ball nicely. Another clean sheet for his tally.
RB – Watson – 7.5: Carried on his good form from the previous fixture. He worked incredibly well alongside Leko, not necessarily taking players on and beating them but he was always in the right position to support his teammate, allowing us to attack down the right efficiently. Did get caught high up the pitch a couple of times but there was usually someone covering. Tried a couple of crosses into the box but his attempts were cleared.
RCB – Tucker – 7: Much improved from his last performance although he did look a little shaky still. Played a lovely long ball up to Eisa in the first half that led to one of our better chances of the game. He defended well for most of the game, getting stuck in and winning his battles. He did make one or two potentially dangerous mistakes that went unpunished but the quality of his play was better on the whole.
LCB – Jules – 7: Like Tucker, he won his battles against the Bristol Rovers forwards and made it difficult for them to get anywhere near our box. Looked like he had a quiet game but that’s often a good thing if you’re a centre-back.
LB – Harvie – 7: Showed a fantastic work-rate as usual and worked well as a defensive unit alongside Jules, Maghoma and Kaikai. Similarly to Watson he tried a couple of crosses but had limited success. Won us the ball in the lead up to our second goal.
CM – McEachran – 8: One of the stars of the show. He seemed to be everywhere and won possession in the middle third countless times. Was the catalyst to our first goal of the game when he pulled off a roulette turn around a Bristol Rovers player before playing a through ball for Devoy. We won a penalty from the resulting attack. His break-up play was outstanding throughout but with particular regards to the first half. He came off after 70 minutes for Johnson.
CM – Maghoma – 7.5: Like McEachran, his break-up play was of a very high standard, making it hard for Bristol Rovers to threaten our defence. He was a great link between the defence and midfield and covered every blade of grass. In addition to this, he looked good on the ball and drew a lot of opposition players towards him with his dribbles before releasing it to his teammates. One of five Dons players to pick up a booking for a challenge.
CAM – Devoy – 7.5: He’s really starting to mature as a complete attacking midfielder now. He was a creative spark all afternoon including for our first goal where he played the ball in to Eisa who was swiftly fouled in the box. Devoy tried a lot of clever passes into the box and was constantly forcing Rovers to defend. He didn’t neglect his defensive duties either and got stuck in where he could. Picked up a silly yellow card for a late challenge that shows there’s still some naivety in his defensive game.
RW – Leko – 7.5: Very lively in the first half and clearly had the better of his man, beating him with pace and skill a number of times. He fizzed a shot just over the bar for one of our better chances of the game and looked a threat for the duration of his time on the pitch. He tried a few balls into the box but struggled somewhat for accuracy. Sprinted back a couple of times to help Watson and Tucker in defence. Started to tire in the second half and came off for Dean after 84 minutes.
ST – Eisa – 8 (TOP DON): After a very poor showing in front of goal last time out, Eisa must’ve been desperate to put that right. He cleverly won a penalty when Quansah left a leg out trying to intercept Devoy’s ball into the box. Eisa went on to take the penalty as well, putting it straight down the middle with the keeper diving away. This gave as a 1-0 lead after 3 just minutes. He was constantly pestering the Bristol Rovers defenders as we looked to defend from the front. He ran through on goal late in the game following a through ball from Kaikai. Eisa turned inside and played the ball across to Dean who went on to score. Grigg took to the field shortly after the goal, with Eisa departing after 90 minutes plus 2 minutes of injury time.
LW – Kaikai – 7.5: Had a very quiet first half, defending well but not contributing too much to the attack. However, he came alive in the second half and started to make life difficult for Rovers. After controlling a Harvie clearance late in the second half, Kaikai slotted the ball through to Eisa which enabled us to go on and score a conclusive second goal. He came off alongside Eisa, with Lawrence taking his place for the final few minutes.
SUB – Johnson – 7: Kept things ticking along nicely following McEachran’s departure. Didn’t stand out as much as the man he replaced but did almost get on the scoresheet, with his effort on goal getting blocked behind for a corner.
SUB – Dean – 7.5: Looked up for the fight even just from watching him warm-up at half-time. He brought a new level of energy with him onto the pitch and pressed extremely well. Secured the result with his goal, sprinting forwards to help Eisa before receiving the ball and calmly placing it into the bottom corner to make it 2-0 after 90 minutes and 1 minute of added time.
SUB – Lawrence – 6.5: Didn’t do anything wrong, just wasn’t on the pitch for long enough to make an impact either way.
SUB – Grigg – 6.5: Same as Lawrence, brought on too late in the game to have any sort of impact. However, it was nice to see him encouraging Dean to seize the moment in the celebrations after the game.
TEAM PERFORMANCE – 8: From a team point of view, this was a fantastic game. Everyone did their bit to secure the result. We defended as a unit and attacked as a unit. We looked so much more fluent playing from back to front despite having a lot less possession than we’re used to. Bristol Rovers offered very little going forward but you could argue that it was our collective defensive work-rate that limited them so much.
The performance itself wasn’t too dissimilar from our previous two games against Exeter and Shrewsbury. The difference was that we didn’t make silly mistakes at the back and we took our chances when they came. Hopefully this game will act as a confidence booster for our players as it shows that they can do what’s being asked of them. Continue to play like that and let your quality shine through. Whether it’s a level we can maintain is another matter of discussion and it will be interesting to see how this approach helps or hinders us in the coming games against some of the league’s top opposition.
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!