By Luke Payne by permission of MK Dons Worldwide on Facebook.
Payne’s Player Ratings vs Ipswich (Home):
The Dons run of games against teams occupying the top six spots of League One came to an end with a home fixture against Ipswich. Having conceded ten combined goals in the last two games, many feared another thrashing but this was not the case. It was still a loss but the Dons kept it a close affair, with Ipswich coming away 1-0 winners. Here’s how I rated the players:
GK – Cumming – 8.5 (TOP DON): Beaten by a strike from outside the box in the first half but there was precious little he could’ve done about it. Stepped up massively in the second half to make a number of top quality saves but also did well to redirect the ball away from any opposing forwards each time. Reasonable distribution and kept the score close when we were at our lowest point.
RB – Watson – 6: Defensively solid enough and won his fair share of headers and challenges but left a lot to be desired in possession at times. Kept giving the ball away by misplacing passes down the line. He did manage to dribble through multiple Ipswich players at once on a couple of occasions in the middle third but wasn’t quite as effective as Lawrence on the other side.
RCB – Tucker – 6: Had a couple of lapses in concentration that weren’t punished, with particular reference to two occasions in the first half where he totally lost track of his man. With that being said, he did also prevent a lot of chances with his challenges and blocks. He was a bit slow with his passing but his accuracy was significantly improved, although this may be because he played less long balls than usual.
LCB – Jules – 6.5: A very tough one to give a rating to. Put in some of the best challenges of the match and regularly covered a lot of ground to cut out attacks but then he also made some big mistakes in possession, including once in the second half where he hesitated on the ball and was subsequently tackled before he could play his pass which gave Ipswich a free counter-attack. Also gave up on chasing a loose ball one time when we tried to break forwards. Jules was the fastest man out of defence but quickly gave up the chase to go and return to his position even though there was plenty of cover for him.
LB – Lawrence – 6: Started slowly in the first half but settled in after a few minutes and started trying to make things happen. Was involved in a number of passing plays down the left wing and managed a few successful dribbles as well. A little bit loose defensively at times, allowing crosses to be played into the box rather than closing his man down.
CM – McEachran – 6.5: The beating heart of this MK Dons side. We’re fortunate he managed to play the full game as we always seem lifeless after he’s subbed off. Misplaced a couple of passes and it was his ball that was intercepted for the goal but he was still a positive influence on the side, playing the ball around nicely and getting us out of some tricky situations with his quick-thinking and control. Found himself playing deeper in the second half but was able to block an Ipswich header on goal and broke up play well for the entirety of the match.
CM – Maghoma – 6: A little inconsistent at times and did hoof the ball randomly on a couple of occasions whilst we had the ball safely in our possession. With this being said, he offered a driving force that our midfield has been missing for a long time. He was always looking to play forwards, whether it was dribbling through Ipswich’s midfield or picking out a teammate, he always wanted to make positive decisions. The execution wasn’t quite right this game but the intention was certainly there. Did leave a few gaps in the middle of the pitch in the second half as we switched between sitting back and pressing Ipswich but the entire midfield was guilty of this.
CAM – Devoy – 5.5: Similarly to Maghoma, he had a lot of ideas but struggled to pull them off and a number of chances were wasted through poor forward passes that went straight to opposition defenders instead of sending our forwards on their way. Was partially responsible for Ipswich’s goal where he got caught flat-footed when receiving a pass from McEachran, which allowed Morsy to intercept before driving at our defence and finding the bottom corner with his shot after 26 minutes. Showed a good defensive work rate to come back and challenge Ipswich’s attacking players but he did leave more gaps in the second half and eventually came off for Burns after 73 minutes.
RW – Kaikai – 6.5: Probably the strongest performer out of the front three and we had some really positive moments including when he fizzed a lovely ball across the box in the second half. Unfortunately, no-one got on the end of it and the chance was wasted. Had a couple of shots on goal at the end of a very chaotic passage of play in the first half where we had at least five shots on the Ipswich goal in the space of about twenty seconds. His final effort was denied by a great save from Walton. Did lose possession a bit easily a couple of times but offered a lot going forwards and moved into the central attacking midfield role once Devoy came off.
ST – Eisa – 6: Did a lot of running but was kept quiet for most of the game. Was heavily involved in the flurry of first half chances but didn’t get much of a sight on goal after that. Was involved in some nice build-up play, particularly in the second half where there was more space for him to play into but more often than not, we wasted possession before a real chance could come to fruition. Made a lot of the right runs but the final ball was never quite there. His pressing was good but in the end we decided to throw the dice and gave Grigg a short run out, replacing Eisa after 88 minutes.
LW – Leko – 5.5: This could be a controversial one as he created a lot in the first half and was crucial to a lot of our attacking play. However, during the chaotic phase of play in the first half, he had a chance to shoot from no more than a couple of yards away and he managed to hit an Ipswich defender instead of rifling it into the net, an opportunity that would’ve changed the game entirely. His second half was a lot quieter as he began to tire, to the point that he was only jogging when he received the ball in the middle third and had the chance to break. As a result the opportunity for a fast counter-attack was gone and we lost possession shortly afterwards. Leko came off a few minutes after this, with Holland taking his place after 78 minutes of play.
SUB – Burns – 5.5: Looked very lively and energetic but didn’t actually have that much of an impact. Payed the ball about well enough and did a lot of defensive work but wasn’t able to create anything at the other end. He should’ve at least tried to get on the end of Kaikai’s cross instead of standing obediently by his marker.
SUB – Holland – 5: Had enough time to at least get on the ball a bit but just wasn’t involved at all.
SUB – Grigg – 6: Came on too late to critique him one way or the other.
TEAM PERFORMANCE – 5.5: As the scoreline suggests, this was a significant improvement on the games against Sheffield Wednesday and Bolton. Ipswich weren’t anywhere near as clinical but we did make it harder to break us down which is certainly promising. Cumming did still have to make a number of top saves but it shows that we can keep sides out if we can stay focused. The greatest concern was in the second half, where we seemed to lose a lot of our fight and desire. It got too sloppy, particularly in midfield so it was surprising that Johnson, Robson and Smith remained as unused subs.
There’s still inconsistency when it comes to finishing from our front three. They do create a lot of chances between them which is always a good sign, especially when you’re up against opposition at the top end of the table but if you’re wasteful, you will be punished. A lesson we’ve had to learn too many times this season already. Sadly there’s not enough quality on the bench in the forward positions with the likes of Holland, Burns and Grigg all having very limited impact so we have to make these first half chances count.
The fixtures list is starting to look much kinder now. We’ve been educated on League One football by the likes of Almeida Santos, Bannan, Morsy etc. so there can’t be any excuses anymore. We have to take the game to Lincoln and anyone else we face in the coming weeks. This run of games was a huge learning curve, it’s time to show that we deserve to stay in this league. Not just because we play some nice football at times, but because we’re taking our chances and not making the mistakes that have plagued the rest of our season. We can but hope!
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!