By Luke Payne by kind permission of MK Dons Worldwide on Facebook.
Payne’s Player Ratings vs Fleetwood (Away):
The stakes going into Fleetwood away were huge. The Cods stole a result in the reverse fixture and the Dons desperately needed three points to pull away from the relegation battle. With all that in mind there was an expectation for The Dons players to give it their all but they sadly fell to a 1-0 defeat. Here’s how I rated the players after the gut-wrenching loss at the Highbury Stadium:
Formation: 5-2-3 (Switched to 4-2-3-1 around the 70th minute)
GK – Jamie Cumming – 5: Had a few routine saves to make but will be grateful that Fleetwood’s forwards struggled to hit the target as they had plenty of chances. Nearly made a nightmare error when failing to clear his lines properly, passing it into the boot of a Fleetwood forward. Fortunately the ball ricocheted away for a goal kick. Cumming also redirected a tame shot into a pair of Fleetwood players but fortunately the second shot was just as tame as the first and he was able to claim the ball. He came forward for a last minute corner and nearly won the header but it wasn’t to be.
RWB – Tennai Watson – 4.5: Started the game well but crumbled after the first 25 minutes, similarly to the rest of the team. Left exposed in the late stages of the first half with the likes of Leko and Maghoma not bothering to track back. Watson was also tackled in potentially dangerous positions twice as he looked to dribble past his man without really having the space to do so. He had a short spell at left wingback after Jules came off but struggled to even complete a pass before returning to the right as Dons switched to four at the back.
RCB – Jack Tucker – 4.5: Had a lot of work to do dealing with Fleetwood’s impressive attacking plays but too often he allowed his marker enough space to shoot without getting a block in. There’s an argument to suggest that he should’ve dropped back quicker to get across and prevent the goal but Tucker was only able to slide in just after Promise Omochere pulled the trigger and by then it was too late. He was regularly too slow to release the ball but he did try to play positive long passes with a mixed degree of success.
CB – Warren O’Hora – 5.5 (TOP DON): The only Dons player showing a good level of consistency, quietly getting his defensive work done but playing out from the back well, albeit slowly. He had one or two questionable moments in the defensive third but this is to be expected after missing a lot of games through injury.
LCB – Dean Lewington (C) – 4: A second bad day at the office in a row for the skipper, with a lot of the responsibility for Fleetwood’s goal falling on his shoulders. He lost his aerial battle to Omochere and was quickly outpaced by him, which allowed Jack Marriott to flick the ball past O’Hora back into the path of Omochere who rifled the ball into the goal via the crossbar, making it 1-0 after 44 minutes. He then stepped totally out of position just minutes later, allowing Omochere to play Marriott through but the forward’s effort was tame and Cumming was able to make the save. Lewington made a few other notable errors across the course of the game but did try to play positive passes, especially in the closing minutes where he was virtually playing as a left winger. He did have one volleyed effort blocked and played one or two balls into the box but no-one could turn them towards goal.
LWB – Zak Jules – 4: Caused problems at both ends of the pitch. Fleetwood’s defence struggled to deal with his physicality which did allow Jules to get into advanced positions down the left wing multiple times but he was unable to provide the final ball. Was in a good position to collect the rebound from a Jonathan Leko shot but his attempt to play the ball in to Eisa was massively over-hit and the chance was wasted. Left a shaky Lewington exposed way too often with his refusal to track back for Fleetwood’s attacks. He came off in a triple substitution with Conor Grant taking his place after 61 minutes.
CM – Josh McEachran – 4.5: Broke up play well for the most part and helped to dictate the tempo for the opening 25 minutes. McEachran was left under a lot of pressure for the rest of the first half with most of the Dons attacking-minded players failing to track back on countless occasions. He also departed the pitch during the triple substitution with Dawson Devoy taking his place after 62 minutes.
CM – Paris Maghoma – 5: A standout player for the Dons but not always for the right reasons. He showed a lot of attacking intent and played a number of important forward passes. He also made a lot of impressive dribbles to get into more advanced positions. However, he was inconsistent and gave the ball away too many times in addition to failing to track back for a large chunk of the first half. He evidently grew frustrated with his teammates as the game went on and his impact started to falter in the late stages of the game. Disaster almost struck again when he mis-controlled the ball following a Dons corner. Omochere dispossessed him but luckily missed the target from a one-on-one scenario. Maghoma took one for the team at the very end, picking up a yellow card for wiping out a Fleetwood forward as they looked to counter-attack following a corner that Cumming came up for.
RAM – Jonathan Leko – 4: Incredibly frustrating to watch. Got into a great position to open the scoring following a slightly deflected through ball from Sulley Kaikai but instead of stepping inside to get a better angle, he opted to shoot first time, allowing debutant goalkeeper Stephen McMullan to make a comfortable save. Leko had an embarrassing attitude for the entire game, easily giving up on loose balls and rarely bothering to track back. As a result he came off after 61 minutes for Nathan Holland, a decision which Leko was clearly annoyed by.
LAM – Sulley Kaikai – 4.5: Had a poor start to the game, playing three through balls in a row that were way too soft to penetrate Fleetwood’s defence. He did eventually manage to get one to work, finding the run of Leko, but the chance came to nothing. Kaikai also had two chances to shoot in quick succession in the first half but he took too long and both his efforts were blocked. His corners were mostly well-directed but no Dons player seemed to want to attack it. By the second half he decided to just play short corners instead that had no more success than the usual corners. Kaikai spent a few minutes playing at right wingback but didn’t have much to do there until he was sent back into his forward role.
ST – Mo Eisa – 4: Did technically open the scoring after slotting the ball past McMullan but in typical Eisa fashion, he was called offside. This wasn’t the only time he was caught offside in a good position and some strong attacking moves were wasted as a result. He also squandered another good opportunity when he tried to shoot from outside the box only to end up booting it towards the corner flag when he had Lewington in a great crossing position just a simple pass away. He did try to set up his teammates a few times but he couldn’t complete the final ball and he nearly tested the keeper with a free-kick that was slightly off-target. Eisa eventually came off for Will Grigg after 81 minutes.
SUB – Conor Grant – 4.5: Played a few nice passes but didn’t do much to alter the course of the game apart from winning the occasional free-kick.
SUB – Nathan Holland – 3.5: Struggled to even control the football, often having to poke it away with his toe just so he could release it without losing possession. He didn’t see much of the ball on the wing and was inconsistent with his build-up play when he started to play through the middle more.
SUB – Dawson Devoy – 3: Didn’t look like he wanted to get an equaliser with his constant negative passes despite being brought on as an attacking change in place of McEachran. He also got dispossessed easily in the defensive third following a pass from Cumming. He was fortunate that Jayden Stockley failed to hit the target with the resulting shot.
SUB – Will Grigg – 4.5: Did his best to make an impact and forced a couple of mistakes out of McMullan and the Fleetwood defence with his clever pressing plays. However, he didn’t see too much of the ball and didn’t really create any clear-cut chances as Dons started to push for an equaliser.
TEAM PERFORMANCE – 3.5: The opening 25 minutes or so was of an acceptable standard. It wasn’t brilliant but there was a good level of control and composure. From there, all it took was one Fleetwood attack for the team to crumble. Dons didn’t concede from that attack but they were so rattled that Fleetwood dominated the rest of the half as well as most of the second half. These players at various points across the season have all shown individually that they know how to play at this level but none of them are mentally ready for any kind of setback, whether it’s a major setback like a goal or something as little as one poor pass.
There was no grit or determination with the exception of Maghoma and even he looked defeated by the second half. Some of these players get more upset over being substituted than they do when the team loses a game. It’s a case of too much greed and not enough team spirit. As professional footballers you have to get the fundamentals right. The most basic parts of the game such as tracking back to defend as a unit are lost on this group. Unless they are prepared to play as a team, they can forget playing League One football next season and in truth a lot of them can forget signing new contracts at this football club. If you’re only playing for yourself and not for the team, or even for the shirt then you don’t have a place here.
With just two games remaining, The Dons will be relying on favours from teams such as Forest Green for there to be a chance of survival. Onto the Barnsley fixture at Stadium MK. One last chance to get a point on the board before the season climaxes at Burton.
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!