By Luke Payne, with kind permission of MK Dons Worldwide on Facebook
Payne’s Player Ratings vs Bolton (away)
Going into our run of games against the top teams in the league, many feared what the scores could be. A Tuesday night in Bolton turned out to be a recipe for disaster with the Dons falling to a 5-0 defeat. Here’s how I rated the players after the disappointing display at the University of Bolton stadium:
Formation: First Half – 4-3-3 Second Half – 5-3-2
GK – Cumming – 6: It seems unusual to give the goalkeeper an average rating after conceding five goals but without Cumming it easily could’ve been eight or nine. His defence let him down massively, particularly regarding the goals conceded from corners in the 7th, 21st and 62nd by Almeida Santos, Mbete and Toal respectively. You could argue that he needed to control his box better but it’s unlikely that he would’ve got anywhere near any of the crosses. A string of impressive saves in the second half kept the score to single digits. His distribution was a bit mixed and his long range passing still needs work but he was far from being the problem in this fixture.
RB – Lawrence – 2.5: Directly responsible for the two goals from open play, failing to track his man on both occasions which allowed Jones to score in the 28th minute and Williams in the 92nd minute. Looked comfortable enough in possession but had no control of his wing and was regularly overloaded by Bolton’s attacking players. As a defensive player he has to share the blame for the abysmal organisation from corners. Each defender and midfielder will be marked down for this accordingly.
RCB – Tucker – 2.5: Has to take a lot of responsibility for the corner goals as one of the centre-backs in the team, especially since it was the opposition defenders that scored all the goals. Had a few shaky moments in possession including passing the ball out for a corner and started trying to play long ball when the going got tough. With this being said he did put in some important challenges, including on a couple of occasions when Bolton looked to be through on goal.
LCB – Jules – 3: Similarly to Tucker, he’s heavily responsible for allowing all of the free headers in the box but his general play was a little bit stronger than his fellow centre-back. He did get outsmarted regularly by the likes of Charles who was easily able to win free-kicks in advanced positions thanks to an impressive display of gamesmanship. Jules seemed to benefit most from the change of formation at half-time, as he was given the licence to charge into the Bolton half with the ball a number of times, which very nearly got him a shot on goal had the opposition defender not intercepted the pass just in time.
LB – Harvie – 2.5: Started very poorly, losing the ball almost every time he had possession. He was constantly slower to react than the players he was up against and had very little control of his wing. Was partially responsible for Bolton’s third goal, losing track of Jones who was waiting at the back post ready to finish the opportunity. Tried a few crosses into the box but his accuracy let him down massively. He did manage to play a ball over the top for Kaikai who volleyed Harvie’s ball into the back of the net after 43 minutes but it was questionably disallowed for offside.
CM – McEachran – 5.5: Tried his best to break up the play and was able to get us out of some sticky situations with his quick thinking and ball control but he struggled to prevent the waves of Bolton attacks coming our way. Did make a few mistakes in possession but was able to last for 78 minutes before Johnson came on to replace him.
CM – Maghoma – 6.5 (TOP DON): The one positive to come out of this game. Maghoma was the only player who wasn’t fooled by Bolton’s physicality and gamesmanship. He broke up play well and won a number of free-kicks. It would’ve been nice to see him be a bit more direct going forwards as he has the ability to run at the opposition. This being said he did try a few balls forward with mixed success before he came off for Smith after 78 minutes.
CAM – Devoy – 4.5: Did well to create as much as he did given how little control of the game we had. He was crucial to almost all of our build-up play and although he didn’t always get his pass right, he had a positive effect on our attacking play. Had the opening chance of the second half but his effort sailed over the bar. Came off for the returning Holland after 86 minutes.
RW – Leko – 4.5: Involved in the creation of a number of chances but failed to make any of them count. Had a few shots on goal including a curled effort off target in the first half, and a low shot across goal in the second half that was denied by Trafford in the Bolton goal. He tried to set up Eisa on a few occasions but the defenders were able to clear more often than not. Did some defensive duties but left Lawrence exposed a few times as well. Moved into a striker role in the second half.
ST – Eisa – 4: Had plenty of chances to score but simply wasn’t able to beat Trafford, even from one-on-one scenarios. Almost had a header on goal from Leko’s cross but was denied by an alleged handball from a Bolton defender. Was involved in a lot of good build-up play with the likes of Devoy and Leko but was outclassed where it counts most, and was pocketed by Almeida Santos. Came off for Grigg after 69 minutes.
LW – Kaikai – 4: Similarly to Harvie, Kaikai had a very slow start which made it very hard to advance down the left wing. Seemed isolated at times from Eisa and Leko and always seemed to struggle to find them with his passes. Did manage to put the ball in the net with a lovely low volley late in the first half but he was denied by the offside flag. Somewhat neglected his defensive duties at times and fell casualty to the change in formation at half-time with Watson taking his place.
SUB – Watson – 5.5: Came on at half-time to reduce the amount of chances Bolton were getting, taking his place at right centre-back in a five at the back formation. He won his fair share of challenges and aerial battles but he wasn’t enough to stop the onslaught from Bolton, who kept threatening Cumming’s goal regardless.
SUB – Grigg – 4: Struggled to get involved in the game and lacked the physical attributes to trouble Bolton’s defence. Added something in terms of defensive work-rate but didn’t contribute much going forwards with the exception of a few passes.
SUB – Johnson – 4: Was brought on too late to really impact the game but wasn’t really involved in play anyway. A bystander to a game already lost.
SUB – Smith – 4.5: A bit livelier than Johnson who came on alongside him. Tried to show attacking intent and played a few balls forward with mixed rates of success. Tried to break up play but wasn’t as effective as Maghoma. Was too slow getting back for Bolton’s fifth goal and he probably could’ve intercepted it if he reacted quicker.
SUB – Holland – 5: A very late change in order to get a few minutes in the legs on his return from injury. Operated in central attacking midfield and played the ball about well enough without really taking any risks.
TEAM PERFORMANCE – 3.5: The team performance was the hardest aspect of this game to give a rating to. The defending from set pieces was shambolic, with players like Devoy and Maghoma having to attempt to mark Almeida Santos who’s the biggest and strongest player on the pitch. Three free headers from corners is unacceptable at any level of the game. The defensive performance from open play wasn’t quite as bad but it still left a lot to be desired with the backline getting stretched easily with little support from the wide players.
The build-up play was the pleasing aspect of this game as we were able to get from back to front quite quickly and were able to create a good number of chances. However, if you can’t hit the target you’re not going to win football matches and that’s been a huge problem lately. Eisa and Leko in particular need to start hitting the target. They have at least four or five big chances between them almost every game but neither of them are getting on the scoresheet regularly enough.
On the other hand, you have to look at the defensive situation. If you can hold teams off for 90 minutes then you at least secure a point. On this occasion we were lucky it wasn’t a cricket score. It’s quite telling that all five goals were scored by different Bolton defenders. Five defenders is the same amount of defenders we have available in the squad currently and there lays the biggest problem of them all, no depth in defence. We’ll have to buck our ideas up quickly if we want to keep the score-line down against Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich in the next two games. For further content to do with our defensive crisis, head over to the MKDSA website where I recently wrote an article discussing potential resolutions to this problem.
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!