By Luke Payne by permission of MK Dons Worldwide on Facebook.
Payne’s Player Ratings vs Lincoln (away) :
A Tuesday away trip to a team that hasn’t lost at their own stadium this season isn’t exactly where you want to go after losing your last three games. However, this was the situation MK Dons were in and despite it being a poor game to watch, the Dons came away with a 1-1 draw at the LNER Stadium. Here’s how I rated the players:
Formation: 4-3-3 (Switched to 4-4-2 after 58 minutes before reverting back to the 4-3-3 for the last couple of minutes following the introduction of Johnson)
GK – Cumming – 6.5: Didn’t have much to do in terms of making saves and there was little he could’ve done about Lincoln’s goal after Mândroiu found the top corner from the edge of the box. Remained alert for the entire game and was always quick to get the ball back in play from goal-kicks, trying to up the tempo as much as possible.
RB – Watson – 4: Didn’t have too much to do defensively but arguably should’ve been the one to close down Mândroiu for the Lincoln goal. He did make a late effort to get in the way but he was too slow getting there, which put resulted in Lincoln going 1-0 up after just 5 minutes. Spent a lot of the game sitting deeper than usual and seemed reluctant to get forward. His passing radar was a bit off as well with a number of passes down the line going to an opposition player or straight out of play.
RCB – Tucker – 3.5: Not at all convincing and seemed to insist on taking as much time on the ball as he could, therefore slowing the tempo of the game down massively. Inaccurate passes and mistakes in possession littered his game and almost every long ball he played went to the Lincoln defenders or the goalkeeper. With this being said he did hook the ball away from Boyes to prevent a big Lincoln which simultaneously set up a big chance for Dons on the counter.
LCB – Jules – 4.5: Very similar to Tucker in the sense that he spent a lot of the game passing it to his fellow defenders in a very lethargic fashion. His defending looked a little more solid than Tucker alongside him and he nearly redeemed himself with a second half header from a corner but his effort landed straight into the arms of Rushworth.
LB – Harvie – 5: He grew increasingly frustrated with everything going on around him but he brought something that the rest of the defence didn’t in the sense that he was always looking to play the ball forwards. Played one or two crosses into the box in the second half and made a couple of crunching tackles as well. Found more success down the left once Holland came on and the pair worked together to find gaps in the Lincoln defence.
CM – McEachran – 5: Felt like he was playing as a centre-back at times given how he spent most of the game on the halfway line repeatedly passing the ball to Tucker and Jules. Did try occasional passes forwards but rarely found success with them. However, he did play a lovely ball forward to Leko who went on to set up Eisa’s chance in the second half. Broke up play well but showed little intent of making anything happen at the other end of the pitch. Came off after 58 minutes for Devoy.
CM – Maghoma – 6: Heavily involved for most of the game with a mix of good and bad contributions. Probably should’ve been aware of Mândroiu’s position for Lincoln’s goal as Maghoma was sat on the edge of the box marking the space rather than marking Mândroiu. Was too defensive at times, bouncing passes back to whoever passed it to him with his first touch instead of looking to create gaps in behind. With this being said he did drive at the opposition defence a couple of times and played Leko through for Grigg’s second half chance. His most important contribution was getting on the end of Holland’s corner in the 89th minute. He immediately flicked the ball towards goal with his effort taking a big deflection off a Lincoln defender before finding its way into the top corner to make it 1-1, rescuing a point for the Dons.
CM – Robson – 3.5: Was barely involved in the first half and most of his contributions consisted of passing the ball backwards. Started to liven up in the second half, playing more aggressive to try and unsettle Lincoln but was swiftly taken off to allow for a formation change. Holland took his place after 58 minutes of play.
RW – Kaikai – 4.5: Was very quiet in the first half and barely got any time on the ball. Started to get a bit more involved in the second half, especially after the switch in formation. Did manage to get himself into a good position inside the box on one occasion but totally missed the ball when he tried to volley it towards goal. Despite this, he was probably the least impactful of the wide players in this particular game. He also lost track of Boyes for Lincoln’s biggest chance of the second half.
ST – Eisa – 4.5: Like a lot of the midfield and forward players he was anonymous in the first half with him mis-controlling the ball beneath his feet the only time he had the ball in an advanced position. Improved somewhat in the second half and had his header cleared off the line by O’Connor following a cross from Leko. Came off after 68 minutes for Grigg.
LW – Leko – 6: Had a quiet first half with the exception of a couple of attempted dribbles. Stepped it up in the second half and set up two major chances, firstly playing a low cross for Eisa after 57 minutes before doing a similar low ball across goal for Grigg after 70 minutes. He had a chance of his own from a free-kick but he couldn’t quite hit the target.
SUB – Devoy – 5: Was a bit sluggish at times but played the first pass out that eventually led to Grigg’s chance. Showed more attacking intent than the likes of McEachran and Robson but didn’t have too much success.
SUB – Holland – 7 (TOP DON): Came on to play on the left wing of the 4-4-2 formation and was quiet for the first few minutes. However, as the game went on he became essential to a lot of the build-up play and had a crucial role in Grigg’s chance, dribbling around his man before releasing Maghoma who was able to break down the right with Leko. Holland was also the provider for Maghoma’s equalising goal, playing a lovely ball in from a corner.
SUB – Grigg – 6.5: Came on with a lot of energy and almost had an immediate impact, getting on the end of Leko’s cross and cleverly flicking the ball backwards towards goal but Rushworth was on hand to make a reaction save. Like Holland, he got involved in a lot of the build-up play and enabled us to play higher up the pitch.
SUB – Johnson – 6: Came on very late to preserve the point Dons would get for a draw but wasn’t on for long enough to rate him one way or the other.
TEAM PERFORMANCE – 4: This game from a team perspective was diabolical, with particular regards to the first half. There was very little urgency and the players seemed content to just watch the ball get played between the two centre-backs and McEachran just inside our own half for the majority of the time. There was no fluidity and the midfield felt totally disjointed. It took a big team-talk and a formation change to alter the course of the game and if it weren’t for those correct tactical decisions, this could’ve easily gone down as the worst game of the season… which is saying something when you’ve lost two of your last three games 5-0 and 5-2 respectively.
The only real positive was that when we did eventually start creating chances we were hitting the target which is an improvement on our other recent games. We did get a bit of luck with our goal, given the heavy deflection Maghoma’s shot took, but sometimes a bit of luck is what you need in football. It’s now down to us to use this result as fuel to give us some belief so we can go into the March fixtures with confidence that we can get ourselves out of this relegation scrap. Let’s just hope that the confidence a point on the board will bring sparks some better performances. Not just for 20 minutes at the end of a game or for the first 60 minutes until McEachran comes off, but for an entire 90 minutes because that’s when we’ll start picking up wins that could ultimately lead to our survival.
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!