By Luke Payne, by kind permission of MK Dons Worldwide on Facebook
Play-off hopefuls Portsmouth visited Stadium MK for the only Friday fixture of the season but after dropping down to ten men, they found themselves sharing the points as the Dons extend their unbeaten run to five games. Here’s how I rated the players after the 1-1 draw at home to Portsmouth:
Formation: 5-2-3 (Swapped to 4-2-4 after 55 minutes)
GK – Cumming – 6.5: Solid yet unspectacular from the keeper. Made a few simple saves and commanded his box well. Could be argued that he should’ve done better for the goal given the angle it was scored from but ultimately beaten by a good strike. Would’ve been a bit concerned when Pigott hit the crossbar late on but wasn’t tested too much otherwise. Had a couple of shaky moments with his long range distribution but coped well with Portsmouth’s high press in the first half.
RWB – Watson – 6.5: Solid defensively for the most part but did lose track of Ogilvie at the back post for the goal. Was overloaded a few times down the wing in the first half with Leko not tracking back too much but kept opposition chances to a minimum. Was able to play in Portsmouth’s half a lot more after they were reduced to ten men and was involved in a lot of decent build-up play.
RCB – Stewart – 7: Resilient in the first half when Dons were under a lot of pressure. Got stuck in where necessary and played the ball out from the back comfortably, albeit a little slowly due to lack of movement in front of him. With that being said, he did play a beautiful over-the-top ball for Maghoma but the resulting chance led to nothing. Acted as the sacrificial lamb for a tactical change, coming off after 55 minutes so Grigg could partner Eisa up top.
CB – Tucker – 7: Had a couple of shaky moments with his passing, particularly in the first half but was much more settled in the second half. Did try a few long balls forward and had limited success but it did force Portsmouth to defend their box a lot more. Had one solid effort on goal from outside the box, forcing Macey into a low diving save. Put in some vital blocks and challenges including on one occasion in the first half where he was able to prevent a one-on-one situation, forcing the Portsmouth forward wide and nipping the ball away for a corner.
LCB – Lewington – 7.5 (TOP DON): Quietly reliable all game even during times when Portsmouth looked on top. Used his experience to pop up in the right places and quell any potential threats. Started to play higher up in the second half and was involved in a lot of good build-up play down the left, even with Dons switching to four at the back. Led by example.
LWB – Harvie – 6.5: Struggled in the opening exchanges but grew into the game. Was the victim of a head-butt from Morrell following a corner. Morrell was sent off for violent conduct, a decision that would change the course of the game. Had a lot of space to work with in the second half but seemed reluctant to dribble with the ball at times. Was involved in a lot of the build-up play which resulted in lots of balls into the box and speculative shots from just outside the box. Had one effort on goal, a flick that was directed towards the top corner before a Portsmouth defender headed clear. Unfortunately, he picked up an injury late in the game and came off after 95 minutes, with Jules taking his place. Harvie tried to walk back to the dugouts but eventually had to be taken around the pitch via a stretcher instead.
CM – McEachran – 7: One of the stand-outs in a poor first half. Tried his best to break up play but was outnumbered by a three man Portsmouth midfield. Started to dictate play more in the second half, with Portsmouth reduced to two midfielders. He got stuck in as much as he could and penned Portsmouth into their defensive third for the majority of the second half. Did step out of position at the wrong time late in the second half, giving Pigott a free shot on goal that luckily hit the bar.
CM – Maghoma – 6: Had a poor game by his standards and was easily played out of the game by Portsmouth’s midfield trio in the first half. Started to settle on the ball more after Morrell was sent off and had a couple of speculative shots on goal, one of which deflected into the path of Eisa for the equalising goal. He gave the ball away unnecessarily too often and it seemed like nothing he tried came off. The effort was there but the execution wasn’t quite right.
RAM – Leko – 6: Extremely poor in the first half and looked to be two or three steps behind play, rarely getting a sight of the ball and losing it on the few occasions he did have it. With that being said, he did get one break in the first half where he dribbled through the middle of the pitch before setting Harvie up to shoot, with the resulting shot going out for a corner. Stepped it up a bit in the second half and was regularly able to skip away from his marker but his crosses rarely made it past the first man. Played the ball to Maghoma for his longshot in the lead up to the goal.
LAM – Grant – 6.5: Started well, playing a number of positive passes to help us push further up the pitch. However, he was caught in the totally wrong place for Portsmouth’s goal, allowing Raggett all the time in the world to play a cross into the box that Ogilvie volleyed past Cumming, making it 1-0 after 14 minutes. Struggled to create much for the rest of the half but did get stuck in more defensively speaking. Played the ball about nicely in the second half and beat his marker a few times but couldn’t quite get the final ball right. Came off after 62 minutes for Holland.
ST – Eisa – 7.5: Had a very lively game and showed a solid level of hold-up play in the first half when Dons were struggling to get a foothold into the game. Also tested Macey in the first half with a low free-kick. Reacted quickly to Maghoma’s deflected shot in the second half and was able to slot home the equaliser past the onrushing Macey, making it 1-1 after 65 minutes. Got in behind on a couple of occasions but mis-controlled the ball both times, otherwise he may well have scored again. Was relentless with his pressing in the second half and led the line well, just unfortunate he wasn’t able to convert a second opportunity.
SUB – Grigg – 6: Tried to put himself about but saw little of the ball given the amount of possession Dons had in the second half. Went up for a number of headers but only won them by fouling opposition players. Good defensive work-rate but didn’t really look like scoring a winner.
SUB – Holland – 6.5: More natural as a wide player than Grant and had more success getting the ball into advanced positions, working well with the likes of Harvie and Lewington to create gaps in Portsmouth’s defence.
SUB – Jules – 6: A late change as emergency cover for Harvie, didn’t really have much to do before the final whistle.
TEAM PERFORMANCE – 6.5: The first half was poor at best, with Dons being tactically outplayed for most of the half. The sending off changed the complexion of the game entirely and Dons capitalised fairly well in the sense that the game was played mostly in and around Portsmouth’s box in the second half. A number of chances were created which is a major positive but a lack of shots on target remains a major problem. When this side gets going they can play some lovely football, creating opportunities out of a single mistake but the killer instinct just isn’t there. You’ll see some fantastic passages of play that will be quickly forgotten because the shot at the end of it was comfortably off target.
The lack of control over the game whilst it was eleven versus eleven was disturbing. Without that bit of good fortune, this game could’ve easily been a defeat. However, Dons did enough to grind out the result and though it could’ve been more than a draw given the sending off, every point is a step forward. The unbeaten run is still intact which is a confidence booster in itself and that could prove to be a mental advantage going into Monday’s fixture away at Derby. Judging by the way he limped off, Harvie’s season could well be over which is a concern, but Kaikai can’t be far away from returning and O’Hora might appear at some point 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!