Payne’s Player Ratings vs Wealdstone (Away):
By Luke Payne by kind permission of MK Dons Worldwide on Facebook.
The ratings are back! The suggestion for this series to return early was well received, so here we are. However, it appears normal service has resumed with The Dons falling to a 2-1 defeat to National League side Wealdstone at Grosvenor Vale. With some new faces and academy prospects in the squad, there are a lot of players being given ratings for the very first time. Here’s how I rated the players after our first game of the season:
GK – Nathan Harness – 4.5: Not the brightest of starts for the new keeper. Looked comfortable enough under pressure with the ball at his feet but fumbled a high-trajectory ball into the box. This spillage resulted in Wealdstone opening the scoring after a short scramble in the box. Out of possession he seemed quite indecisive and had a couple more moments in the game that very easily could’ve led to conceding more goals.
RB – Callum Tripp – 6: Despite being given an average rating, Tripp impressed with his control and passing throughout his stint on the pitch. He put a lot of hard work in, running up and down the wing. What brings his rating down is his failure to track his marker on a number of occasions including in the build-up to Wealdstone’s first goal. Even so, a very promising display and had he been playing in midfield where he’s appeared previously, he likely would’ve been one of the top-rated players.
RCB – Jack Tucker – 6.5: Solid from a defensive point of view, rarely letting anything get past him. Was always alert and showed good awareness to pass his way out of danger a number of times. He attempted a lot of over the top through balls but had very little success due to lack of accuracy and poor movement from the forwards. Unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet when his header was cleared off the line following a Dan Kemp corner.
LCB – Dean Lewington (C) – 6.5: Calm and professional in typical Lewington fashion. Wasn’t a standout player but always seemed to pop up whenever he was needed to cut out an attack. Perhaps he could’ve tried a few more aggressive balls forward as he has the technique to pick out the runs of his teammates.
LB – Daniel Harvie – 6.5: Looked good defensively and handled a couple of one on two’s on his side very well. To begin with he stayed quite defensive but started to attack more as the game went on, swinging in a few crosses with limited success. With this being said he did set up Alex Gilbey with a well-placed cross.
CM – Alex Gilbey – 7.5 (TOP DON): Battled extremely well and showed his quality with some of his touches. The only real show of physicality in the midfield came through him, in both defensive and attacking positions. Dictated the game well and made a couple of unutilised intelligent runs. He had one chance in the second half, turning Dan Harvie’s cross just over the bar.
CM – Dawson Devoy – 7: Looked much more comfortable on the ball in defensive positions than usual and was regularly able to stretch the play and defuse Wealdstone pressing attempts with his sharp turns and well-picked passes. Still lacking in the physicality department but much better from a playmaker’s point of view.
CM – Dan Kemp – 6.5: Put in a real shift and seemed to pop up everywhere on the pitch. He looked very good on the ball and kept play ticking along nicely. It would’ve been nice to see him commit to the attacks a little bit more as he has the quality to create something if he runs at the opposition instead of passing the ball away.
RW – Nathan Holland – 4: Very disappointing even for a friendly. Barely touched the ball for the first 20 minutes and when he did eventually get his chance to make an impact it didn’t end well. He had two golden opportunities to score but he missed one and the keeper saved the other comfortably. He had one final chance later in the game but instead of shooting he tried to pass it back across goal. His work-rate left Callum Tripp in trouble a number of times.
ST – Jonathan Leko – 4.5: Looked to be the bright spark of the attack to begin with, playing a lovely pass to set up Mo Eisa but nothing came from it. He also had a number of chances to shoot but he was very inaccurate. Solid enough on the ball but the problem was his play off the ball. Made it impossible to press the opposition as he wasn’t prepared to run much and at times he wasn’t even keeping an eye on play. Leko’s laziness was an issue last season as well so a little bit concerning in that respect. With that being said the team did have a training session in the morning before the game so there’s an argument to suggest he was fatigued.
LW – Mo Eisa – 4.5: Faded in and out of the game and had a couple of chances that he really should’ve scored. Unfortunately he missed the target on each occasion. Pressed better than Leko and Holland alongside him but obviously had limited success as the forwards rarely pressed as a unit. Could probably still track back a little more as well.
After 65 minutes all outfield players were substituted with their replacements setting up in the same formation:
RB – Phoenix Scholtz – 5: Not as comfortable as Tripp on the ball but showed a desire to get forward and brought a good level of energy. Had a lot of work to do defensively but did struggle to keep the Wealdstone forwards at bay.
RCB – Warren O’Hora (C) – 6.5: Played like a leader, getting stuck in and reading the game extremely well. He played out from the back nicely and played with confidence which can only help the likes of academy players Phoenix Scholtz and Charlie Waller either side of him.
LCB – Charlie Waller – 5: Looked solid enough on the ball but did have his work cut out for him defensively. Perhaps reacted a little slowly at times but didn’t look too out of place for the most part.
LB – Zak Jules – 6.5: Offered a more physical presence down the left wing with Matt Dennis in front of him. He got forward wherever he could but usually got stuck around the final third. His defensive play looked pretty routine and Wealdstone didn’t trouble him too much.
CM – Josh Morris (Trialist) – 6.5: Probably the standout of this midfield trio, offering a more physical presence but was also quite positive with his passing. Did have one attempt on goal but he sent it flying out of the ground after connecting with a rebounded ball on its way out of the box.
CM – Matt Smith – 5.5: Looked okay in possession but lacked the intensity and purpose shown by the first half midfield. With that being said he did try a couple of balls forward but he couldn’t quite pick out his targets.
CM – Ethan Robson – 5.5: Similarly to Matt Smith he had a quiet performance, not really taking control of the game. Did give the ball away cheaply a few times but was usually able to recover.
RW – Darragh Burns – 7: A total contrast to Nathan Holland. Showed regular bursts of energy, making runs in behind and linking play with Phoenix Scholtz. Capped his performance off with a lovely chipped pass to set up Max Dean for the equalising goal.
ST – Max Dean – 7: He offered everything the first half forwards didn’t. Dean was always quick to press and was nearly rewarded for it when the Wealdstone keeper dropped the ball from a safe position. The keeper was just about able to recover in time as Dean came flying in to try and nick the ball. He had to wait for his chance to get a proper shot on goal but when the chance came he took it. The young striker ruthlessly volleyed Darragh Burns’ pass into the back of the net, an opportunity that was harder to take than all of the first half chances.
LW – Matt Dennis – 6.5: Brought the same high energy level as Darragh Burns and Max Dean and did get involved in the play as much as he could. However, he was quite indecisive at times and found himself holding onto the ball too long, losing possession as a result. He did seem to work quite well with Jules who was always there to provide an extra passing option.
TEAM ONE PERFORMANCE – 6: The three man midfield of Gilbey, Devoy and Kemp worked quite well although there was a clear weakness of Gilbey being the only one with any physicality in his game. The defence looked pretty good as well with the exception of the few times Tripp lost track of his marker which is excusable given he’s an academy player playing out of position. The concerns were the shakiness in the goalkeeping performance and the awful work-rate of the strike force. There were enough chances created to score four or five goals so to score none isn’t a great start.
TEAM TWO PERFORMANCE – 6: The inexperienced defensive line-up showed towards the end and the midfield trio weren’t able to control the game in the same way that the first half team did. It would be interesting to see Morris operating in the first half line-up as the starting team looked a lot closer to what would be considered The Dons’ ‘Best XI’. It also remains to be seen if Robson and Smith can start to have a more positive impact on games.
However, the forward players were impressive. Burns, Dean and Dennis didn’t get as many chances as the likes of Holland, Leko and Eisa and they certainly weren’t as good on the ball as the first half trio but it was their out of possession play that stood out. They were keen to press and showed the right energy levels throughout. It’s that level of commitment that players like Leko and Holland should be striving for.
ADDITIONAL NOTES – The first thing to mention is that although it’s a loss it’s only pre-season. The whole point is to get minutes in the legs and to identify weaknesses in the squad and iron them out. A perfect example is the lack of physicality in midfield. Within 24 hours of the match finishing, Bolton’s midfield enforcer MJ Williams has joined The Dons.
There were some playing habits that were definitely missing throughout this game. It didn’t really feel like either team was playing as a unit but that’s to be expected at this early stage. Hopefully in future games we’ll see the emergence of some high energy off the ball play as well as more intelligent runs whilst in possession from the front line.
It’s also worth noting that Cameron Norman and Conor Grant weren’t in the match day squad so there will be some noticeable differences when they return. Norman should provide a more solid fullback option and Grant has an eye for a key pass which could help unlock defences a bit easier in future. There’s still plenty of work to be done, but there’s also plenty of time to do it. We won’t know for sure where the team is at until the league fixtures start and who knows what personnel changes will be made before then.
So there you have it, the first player ratings of the season! Hopefully it’s provided a little insight into the current state of the team. I won’t guarantee player ratings for all of the friendly fixtures but I’ll do my best to provide some form of content wherever possible. If you’ve read this far then thank you! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the game if you were there. If not then let us know which new signing your most excited to see play and why. I hope you enjoyed the read!