By Luke Payne by kind permission of MK Dons Worldwide on Facebook.
Payne’s Player Ratings vs Charlton (Home):
The unbeaten run is at an end. Charlton came to visit Stadium MK and they head back to London with three points that The Dons desperately needed to stay ahead of the relegation battle. Here’s how I rated the players after the 1-0 loss to the Addicks:
Formation: 5-2-3 (Switched to 4-2-4 after 87 minutes)
GK – Jamie Cumming – 7: Pulled out two big saves in the second half, one of which was a reaction save a couple of minutes before Charlton scored. Nothing he could’ve done about the goal given the power on the shot from relatively close range. Reasonable enough with his distribution for the most part although did try to play into danger a few times.
RWB – Tennai Watson – 7: Started a little slowly as did most of the Dons side but he grew into the game as it went on. Lost track of his man one or two times in the opening minutes but recovered well and was one of few players that looked to play forwards regularly. Did his best to bring the forward players into the game, particularly in the latter stages where Dons started to push for an equaliser.
RCB – Anthony Stewart – 5: Sluggish both in and out of possession, giving the ball away cheaply fairly frequently. Won a few headers and prevented the occasional Charlton attack but never looked comfortable, often relying on Watson and Jack Tucker to support him. He came off to allow The Dons to play a more attacking formation with Nathan Holland taking his place after 87 minutes.
CB – Jack Tucker – 6.5: Had a lot on his plate with Miles Leaburn hovering around the Dons defence but Tucker defended intelligently, using his body well and communicating with his teammates to play the Charlton forward out of the game wherever possible. Did make a couple of poor mistakes in possession but he also cut out a lot of Charlton attacks and was usually the first on the scene on occasions where Dons were caught on the break.
LCB – Dean Lewington – 4.5: Not at the races at all. He looked uncomfortable on the ball particularly in the second half and he gave away possession needlessly way too often for someone that’s supposed to be a leader on the pitch. Lewington was one of the least convincing players in the awful spell during the second half where Dons barely made it past defensive third without losing the ball. Did well enough from a defensive standpoint but made it difficult for Dons to push higher up the pitch.
LWB – Zak Jules – 6: Looked a little more comfortable in the wingback role but still not a natural fit. He didn’t neglect his defensive duties quite as much as the previous game but was still caught out a couple of times. Jules was relatively effective going forwards, driving with the ball into Charlton’s half and winning a number of corners. At one point he made a fantastic run, beating a number of Charlton players before playing a cross for Mo Eisa but the striker’s effort was saved. He found himself more involved in the late stages of the game with Holland playing in front of him. However, he did still make some poor mistakes in possession.
CM – Josh McEachran – 4.5: Seemed to be behind play a lot of the time and often lost the ball immediately after winning possession. Tried to break up play but found himself getting played out of the game. His set pieces rarely made it past the first man and his second half free-kick didn’t make it past the wall. Partially at fault for the goal where he stepped up to press following a corner only to realise that Eisa was going to the man already, which left McEachran in no man’s land with Jack Payne in space behind him. Charlton were able to work the ball to Payne allowing him to smash the ball past Cumming, making it 1-0 after 61 minutes. McEachran came off after 76 minutes for Dawson Devoy.
CM – Paris Maghoma – 7 (TOP DON): Carried The Dons for a lot of the game, single-handedly driving the team forwards into the Charlton half. Had a constant sense of urgency and was always looking for openings. His passing although not always accurate, had purpose to it and he played a number of cutting balls that put his teammates into great positions. Maghoma seemed to be on the same wavelength as Conor Grant, with the pair frequently exchanging passes in the final third before trying to play the final ball. Unfortunately, Maghoma came off with an injury after 77 minutes with Ethan Robson taking his place.
RAM – Jonathan Leko – 6.5: Looked to be Dons biggest threat going forward in the first half, even hitting the post with a ferocious strike from outside the box. He had a couple of other chances that led to corners but struggled with the final ball when setting up his teammates. In the second half he started to neglect his defensive duties which left Watson exposed at the back. He was still making attempts to drive forwards but with Dons playing so deep, his impact was limited and Leko would eventually make way for Will Grigg after 77 minutes.
LAM – Conor Grant – 4: A very frustrating player to watch, regularly getting himself into fantastic positions only to get the final ball wrong. Made one fantastic run down the right wing that caught Charlton totally off-guard but he couldn’t get his cross past the first man. Grant was at his best when working alongside Maghoma but he just couldn’t get that final ball right in an often crowded Charlton box. He started to fade from the game in the second half and his impact out of possession was faltering as well including for the goal where he should’ve stepped inside to mark Payne when McEachran pressed. This led to him coming off for Sulley Kaikai after 62 minutes.
ST – Mo Eisa – 5.5: Put in a lot of work but had very limited success. He was caught offside four or five times in the first half which wasted some good passages of play. Eisa wasn’t at his best but he did put a shift in, pressing constantly particularly in the second half. However, he struggled to find space in the final third and often came out to the wing to get on the ball, leaving very few options in the box. He did have one opportunity in the second half, getting on the end of a Jules cross, volleying it towards goal but Ashley Maynard-Brewer was able to turn the effort away for a corner.
SUB – Sulley Kaikai – 6: He struggled to get into the game to begin with and didn’t see much of the ball until the formation changed late in the game and Kaikai came out to play on the right wing. From there he was able to play some balls into the box but none of them were directed towards goal. He took over corner duty from McEachran and put the ball in the right area but no-one seemed to want to attack it.
SUB – Dawson Devoy – 6.5: A solid return to the side for the youngster, though he was unable to change the course of the game. He played the ball about nicely and was spraying passes out to the wings, giving Dons the chance to push into the final third.
SUB – Will Grigg – 6: Tried to get involved as much as he could, and played a couple of nice balls, including a well-directed header to play Kaikai into a crossing position. He went for every ball into the box but could never quite direct the ball towards goal.
SUB – Ethan Robson – 6: Certainly not as effective as Maghoma but he was usually able to retain possession. He didn’t have the drive to split open Charlton’s defence but he did ensure that Dons were able to keep the ball, pinning Charlton back into their box in the final few minutes.
SUB – Nathan Holland – 6.5: His substitution changed the momentum of the game entirely. Dons switched to four at the back and started exploiting the wings more. Holland led the charge and got in behind his marker a number of times, playing balls across the box and forcing Charlton to defend.
TEAM PERFORMANCE – 5: As far as a team performance goes, it didn’t look too bad in the first half. Charlton were on top in the opening stages but Dons found their footing and grew into the game. By half-time it seemed quite even. However, there was a large chunk of the second half that let the team down massively. After starting the half on the front foot, Charlton had two decent chances and suddenly most of the team lost confidence. Mistakes started creeping in from the players that you wouldn’t expect and that seemed to unnerve everyone that wasn’t Maghoma or Watson. During this spell, both Maghoma and Watson went down injured and that summarises it perfectly. The two players that were prepared to fight for the result were the ones testing their bodies to the limit.
After a change of personnel, Dons started to recover a little bit but it took a change of formation and Holland coming on to encourage the team to actually fight for an equaliser. Ultimately it was too little, too late. As fans, we can accept that sometimes players won’t be at their best, that’s football after all. Things happen. However, if players aren’t mentally up for the battle and crumble that easily, it leaves major doubts in our minds. With a trip up to Fleetwood next, three points are essential. More so, there needs to be a committed performance that suggests that these players want to be in League One next season. One good result could be the difference between survival and a League Two tour.
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!