Paynes Player Ratings Grimsby Town

By Luke Payne, Feature Writer

After an eventful match against Salford at the weekend, Mike Williamson’s men were faced with a much more tactical battle against Grimsby and their brand new manager David Artell. Dons went behind and entered half-time 0-1 down but were eventually able to equalise and secure a point. Here’s how I rated the players after the 1-1 draw at home to Grimsby:

Formation: 5-2-2-1/5-4-1 (Two holding midfielders and two attacking midfielders)

GK – Craig MacGillivray – 7: Was much busier than he was against Salford but looked much more assured this time around. He made a number of saves to keep Grimsby out. The majority were fairly routine but they seemed to have a philosophy of shoot on site so MacGillivray had to be on his toes at all times. He played a few dodgy balls out but gave nothing away in dangerous positions.

RWB – Joe Tomlinson – 7: Had a mixed first half and seemed to be struggling with his first touches. He had one shot on goal which he fired off target. However, he did also prevent a major chance for Grimsby with a last-minute tackle in the box. Tomlinson’s second half was a notable improvement and he got another shot on goal but this time it was saved by Harvey Cartwright. His link-up play was much better in the second half and he was able to create a number of chances with Cameron Norman, Alex Gilbey and Jack Payne in support. This includes setting up Mo Eisa for the final chance of the game.

RCB – Cameron Norman – 4.5: Made a couple of poor mistakes in the defensive third including for Grimsby’s goal where he passed it directly into the path of a Grimsby player. From there Norman was caught out of position and left Warren O’Hora and Dean Lewington with the impossible task of preventing the chance on their own. The move would finish with Rekeil Pyke putting the ball in the back of the net, making it 0-1 after 20 minutes. With this being said his defensive work out of possession looked better than in previous games and he won a lot of his battles. In possession Norman typically held onto the ball too long, as did MacGillivray and most of the defence. He played higher up in the second half and played a couple of crosses into the box but they weren’t accurate. He also had one shot from outside the box but it went sailing over the bar.

CB – Warren O’Hora – 4.5: Got caught out a few times at the back, most notably when he looked to be clearing a ball only for the Grimsby forward to nip in and take it away from him. Fortunately for O’Hora, Tomlinson came flying in to save the day otherwise it may have been 0-2 before half-time. O’Hora spent a lot of time on the ball and made a habit of standing still waiting for someone to come and press him. He did this far too frequently though and Grimsby were only looking to press when the ball reached the midfield so all it did was slow down the tempo of play.

LCB – Dean Lewington (C) – 5: A little more solid than the other two centre-backs but still not totally convincing. Was left with a lot to do for Grimsby’s goal and he lacked the pace to get into a more effective position to prevent it. Lewington looked comfortable enough on the ball but did make a mistake or two in possession. He did try to play forwards when the options were on though and took a couple more risks. Eventually he came off after 72 minutes for Mo Eisa as The Dons looked to chase all three points. Daniel Harvie moved to centre-back and Jonathan Leko moved to wingback to accommodate this change.

LWB – Daniel Harvie – 6: Wasn’t a standout player but didn’t make any significant mistakes either. It was a pretty routine game for Harvie, though he was quite limited for attacking freedom in the first half. He battled well throughout and started to play more positively with his passing in the second half.

CM – Jack Payne – 7.5 (TOP DON): Felt like the only driving force of the team and popped up everywhere in an attempt to increase the tempo and push Dons higher up the pitch. He regularly had to drop deep to collect the ball and exchanged passes with the likes of MJ Williams, Alex Gilbey and Norman in an attempt to create space in between the lines. He showed up in the right place at the right time to hit home Gilbey’s ball across inside the box, making it 1-1 after 66 minutes. Payne was the only one who seemed willing to take risks with his passing and though it didn’t always come off, it enabled Dons to get in behind Grimsby’s midfield press and start to attack their back line.

CM – MJ Williams – 4.5: Had a very bad day at the office. Williams was slow in possession and seemingly refused to turn on the ball and pass around corners. He even failed to complete some basic passes and was constantly slowing the tempo down. After Dons equalised he started to improve and played more positive passes but he lacked purpose without an opposition target man to mark.

CAM – Alex Gilbey – 5.5: Had a really poor first half, gifting the ball to the opposition with seemingly every touch. With that being said he still battled and got stuck in, though his positioning was a little off a couple of times where Grimsby were attacking down the right and Gilbey didn’t drop deep enough, allowing them to cut inside of Norman and play the ball across the box. Gilbey continued to persevere in the second half and was eventually rewarded with an assist for his efforts. He made a run down the left wing following a failed attacking corner routine and cut the ball across the box for Payne to finish.

CAM – Conor Grant – 5.5: One of very few players that looked to attack when on the ball in the first half but he did lose possession far too easily from being lightweight. He also took some heavy touches in the box and went down a couple of times hoping for a penalty. Grant did play some nice passes to help the team push further up the pitch but found it difficult to create any chances. He came off after 62 minutes for Jonathan Leko.

ST – Max Dean – 6: A frustrating evening for the young forward. He often had to come deep to get on the ball as Dons were struggling to break into the final third. Dean did have one chance that he probably should’ve scored but he was also involved in creating a number of other chances. He came off after 71 minutes for Ellis Harrison.

SUB (CAM/LWB) – Jonathan Leko – 7: Brought an incredibly positive energy with him onto the pitch and helped to shift the momentum of the game. He looked to carry the ball forward at every opportunity but importantly, he made the right decisions on when to release the ball and was able to help create a number of chances as a result. He had one effort on goal from the edge of the box after he cut inside his marker but his effort was deflected behind for a corner. Leko also set up Tomlinson for his attempt in the second half with some fantastic footwork giving him just enough space to squeeze the ball through a gap to allow Tomlinson to go for goal.

He shifted into a wingback role when Ellis Harrison came on and looked equally as convincing apart from one instance where he totally missed the ball and nearly gave a Grimsby striker a free shot on goal. To Leko’s credit he reacted quickly and got his body in the way of the shot, instantly recovering from his blunder. Apart from that moment, his defensive work was surprisingly positive.

SUB (ST) – Ellis Harrison – 5: Had a similar problem to Max Dean where the ball simply wasn’t reaching him in the final third. Harrison struggled to get involved and was frozen out of play in the final third but it wasn’t from a lack of trying. He still did a lot of running and even sprinted back into defence in an attempt to stop a shot on goal.

SUB (CAM) – Mo Eisa – 5: Was involved in a lot of good build-up play but didn’t get a shooting opportunity until the final minute of the game where Tomlinson played the ball to him in the box and Eisa failed to hit the target. Pressure makes diamonds but Eisa for the last couple of months has been a lump of coal. He’s low on confidence and is struggling in moments where he needs composure the most.

TEAM PERFORMANCE – 5: Dons were far too passive for most of the game. They were far too content to play the ball around the back with no purpose and were punished when the passing got too relaxed. It was an uphill climb from there and in fairness to the player’s their head’s didn’t drop. One moment of quality secured a point but a lack of quality overall prevented it from being all three. The biggest concern is that Dons need the opposition to press in order to start playing the ball about quickly. It should be a style of play that is done automatically, not just whenever the opposition think they can get the ball by playing aggressively. Mike Williamson’s done well to get the team dictating play, but the next step is to get the players to do it at a much faster pace. It’s fine if you want to constantly change the tempo as it’s very difficult to defend against if you don’t know what your opponent is about to do but the one thing you can’t do is constantly slow the game down and allow the opposition to rest.

A couple of key players had off days which doesn’t help and the lack of composure in the box is still a concern but the big positive is that it’s another point on the board. Earlier in the season under different management that would’ve likely been a loss as Grimsby played well under David Artell and probably deserved to win. However, there’s been a huge mentality change since Williamson’s arrival. If you can’t win, don’t lose. It’s still two points dropped from the perspective of Grimsby being towards the bottom end of the table, but’s it’s also another game unbeaten when you look at the bigger picture. Mansfield are the next league game but after that game there’s a favourable run of fixtures so Dons should be aiming to go unbeaten from now until the end of the year. It may be a big ask but a statement of intent is needed if the club has any ambitions of competing towards the top end of the table this season.

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!

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