Paynes Player Ratings Wrexham

Hollywood came to MK for what can only be described as a six pointer in the race for automatic promotion. An eventful game ensued with plenty of drama and controversy at both ends of the pitch but it would end with the honours even thanks to goals from Dan Kemp and Wrexham’s James McLean. Here’s how I rated the players after the action concluded at Stadium MK:

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

GK – Michael Kelly – 8: Looked assured in goal and came up with a couple of important saves at crucial times. This includes denying Jack Marriott in a one-on-one scenario. Most of his distribution was good though he did struggle a bit with accuracy on long balls. Not much he could’ve done for the goal with his defence letting him down defending a corner. Kelly was the sponsor’s man of the match and he was certainly a reasonable pick.

RWB – Cameron Norman – 7: Had a relatively quiet first half but for all the right reasons. He nullified Jacob Mendy which made it difficult for Wrexham to attack down the right. This did in turn play Norman out of the game as well but it was a trade worth taking. His defensive work was mostly solid and he contributed with a number of blocks. After Dean Lewington was sent off Norman moved to right centre-back and carried on with his defensive duties. Unfortunately he had to go off injured after 90 minutes but he put his body on the line for the cause so you can’t fault his effort. Ellis Harrison came on to replace him whilst MJ Williams filled in at centre-back.

RCB – Dean Lewington – 6: Looked better on the right side of defence than he did in his previous start but it still felt a little clunky at times trying to play out from the back with Lewington always trying to get the ball on his left foot. He played the ball about well enough though like many he was prone to a few errors in possession. Ultimately his performance will be remembered for getting a straight red card for dissent shortly after the match officials denied Dons what looked like an obvious goal. However, the officials claimed that the ball didn’t cross the line and Wrexham nearly scored from the resulting counter attack. Following the end of the move, Lewington confronted referee Sam Purkiss and was swiftly sent down the tunnel for doing so. This left Dons playing on the back foot from the 60th minute onwards… that is until Wrexham also went down to ten men later in the half.

CB – Warren O’Hora – 8 (TOP DON): Like most, he played a couple of dodgy passes and was sometimes slow releasing the ball but his defensive work was outstanding. He went up for every header and usually came out on top. One of his headed clearances even initiated the counter-attack that led to Wrexham’s sending off. O’Hora was the last line of defence but he stepped in wherever he was needed to keep Wrexham out. The away side had a plethora of attacking options at their disposal but O’Hora found a way to deal with all of them.

LCB – Daniel Harvie – 7: Harvie’s good form continued with another fiery display. His tough tackling put an end to plenty of Wrexham attacks and he was the perfect supporting cast for Joe Tomlinson, the two combining regularly down the left. He did make one potentially costly error when getting dispossessed by two charging opposition attackers that led to a dangerous-looking counter-attack. Fortunately, Wrexham weren’t able to capitalise. Harvie did have one effort on goal from outside the box but his effort was wide of the mark.

LWB – Joe Tomlinson – 7.5: Did everything but score. Tomlinson had a lot of space to roam due to the likes of Lewis Bate and Alex Gilbey being prepared to rotate into defence so Tomlinson could make runs further forward. This paid off for Dons’ equaliser when Jack Payne played a forward pass to Tomlinson on the edge of the box which he immediately flicked through on goal for Dan Kemp who would go on to score. That entire move started off with Tomlinson on the ball at left wingback as well. He also fancied himself from long range and forced Arthur Okonkwo into a fantastic save, tipping a curling effort onto the post and out for a corner.

Later in the game Tomlinson tried a shot from the edge of the box following a corner. It looked like a comfortable save for Okonkwo but he spilled it and fumbled the ball into his own net. The only issue was that the officials decided the ball didn’t fully cross the line so the goal wasn’t given. As if two major chances wasn’t enough, Tomlinson had a chance to score the winner with the last chance of the game. The ball was played through to him by Ellis Harrison but Tomlinson was so close to the keeper by the time he got his shot off that he couldn’t find a way past him. Perhaps this is a tad too critical as it may have been a difficult pass to pull off, but Kyran Lofthouse would’ve had a virtually open goal if Tomlinson had played the ball across to him. However, it may have been too much of a stretch for Tomlinson to get his foot around the ball to play it across goal.

CM – Jack Payne – 5.5: Played a vital part in the equaliser with his ball in to Tomlinson but he was also one of those at fault for Wrexham’s goal at the other end. Payne was the man responsible for marking the front post but he didn’t go up for the header and he wasn’t close enough to the goal-line to prevent the ball from going in when James McLean headed it towards goals with his diving header. This made it 0-1 after 22 minutes. Payne seemed to struggle with his passing more than usual and frequently gave the ball away with poor passes. At times it felt like he was forcing the forward pass instead of just moving the ball on quickly and trying to find a different opening. He came off after 79 minutes for MJ Williams.

CM – Lewis Bate – 7.5: He gave the ball away with a soft pass for Jack Marriott’s one-on-one chance but that was his only major error. Bate had an impressive amount of control over the game and he popped up in the perfect place time and time again, whether it was to break up play or to help Dons play out from the back. He also made a very difficult clearance when Wrexham counter-attacked following Dons’ goal that wasn’t given. Bate protected the defence brilliantly throughout and was constantly enabling his teammates to get into better positions.

RAM – Dan Kemp – 7.5: Extremely lively and was rewarded for his efforts when Tomlinson flicked the ball through on goal for him. From there Kemp ran around his man and rifled the ball into the back of the net, making it 1-1 after 26 minutes. Kemp’s work-rate got him a lot of ‘nearly’ moments like when he ‘nearly’ ran through on goal after Norman played an over the top through ball. This run resulted in Kemp winning the corner that Dons technically scored from. In the absence of an out and out striker, Kemp alongside Alex Gilbey and Stephen Wearne operated in a very fluid front three. At any point they could pop up anywhere in the final third. They started attacks from their assigned positions but rotated mid-attack and made it difficult for Wrexham to track them, a style of attacking that’s not been seen much since the days of Scott Twine, Troy Parrott and Mo Eisa. Kemp came off after 64 minutes for Kyran Lofthouse so Dons could reshuffle the defence after Lewington’s sending off.

LAM – Alex Gilbey – 7.5: Seemed to be involved in a lot of the scrappier parts of the game but he covered every blade of grass and kept plugging away. He had a couple of efforts on goal and did force a save or two out of Arthur Okonkwo. After Lewington got sent off, Gilbey operated in a bit of a hybrid half midfield, half attack role. He would float in that gap and then spring into action whenever Wrexham left any openings in their defence. This enabled Dons to get up the pitch quickly and put Wrexham under pressure after sustained spells of defending. Gilbey played the through ball for Matt Dennis that led to Will Boyle getting sent off which gave Dons a chance to push for a winner towards the end of the game. When Ellis Harrison came on for the last few minutes, Gilbey dropped back into midfield alongside Bate.

ST – Stephen Wearne – 6.5: Similarly to Kemp and Gilbey, Wearne put in a lot of work across the front line. His rating is perhaps a little harsh as he did still play the ball about nicely and set up his teammates wherever he could. Wearne did get into a couple of good positions on the break but he set-up his teammate instead of shooting the first time, then had his shot saved the second time. His energy level dropped before the other attacking players so he made way for Matt Dennis after 65 minutes.

SUB (RWB) – Kyran Lofthouse – 6.5: Had a poor start, making a few unnecessary mistakes but he eventually settled as Dons looked to get something from the game. He was more of an attacking outlet than Norman but left a bit more to be desired defensively.

SUB (ST) – Matt Dennis – 5.5: An incredibly difficult player to give a rating to simply because of how frustrating his performance was. On one hand, he kept over-complicating things with every touch he took and regularly gave the ball away as a result. On the other hand, he was the man responsible for Will Boyle getting sent off after trying to run through on goal before getting taken down by the Wrexham man for his second yellow of the game. Dennis also played a crucial part in Dons’ final attack of the game which was a major chance to score the winner. He held the ball up after controlling a brilliant ball over the top from Harvie. From there, he played the ball across to Ellis Harrison who would go on to set up Tomlinson. His forwards runs gave Wrexham something to worry about and had he simplified things and just controlled the ball properly, he could’ve been a game changer.

SUB (CM/RCB) – MJ Williams – 6.5: The guy to fill in the gaps wherever Dons were short a man. He kept things calm in the defensive third and helped ensure that Wrexham wouldn’t get a chance to score a winner.

SUB (CAM/CF) – Ellis Harrison – 6.5: Harrison had very limited time to make a difference and he operated in that hybrid midfield/attack role that Gilbey had to play earlier in the game. He chipped in with an important defensive header and set up Tomlinson for the final chance of the game with an expertly picked through ball.

TEAM PERFORMANCE – 7: A very tricky team performance to rate. The way the team bounced back from adversity multiple times was admirable but equally there were chances to win the game that weren’t taken. Wrexham had a clear game plan and are very good at what they do but Dons did enough to restrict their attacking talent to very few clear cut opportunities. The Dons defence did play a dangerous game at times but that’s just part of playing the brand of football Mike Williamson has brought to the club. It wasn’t the cleanest performance or the most efficient but it was enough to counter a dangerous side with luck evidently in the other team’s favour.

With regards to the attacking display, Dons were able to create some great chances, though some of these came from outside the box efforts and at times it was difficult to find ways to break into the box. There were passages where Wrexham left gaps in defence, most notably just before half-time and the entire section of play where it was 11 against 10. That was where Dons looked better going forward but when the opposition had players behind the ball, Williamson’s men didn’t have enough ideas. Ellis Harrison returning to the side could give Dons another dimension, a focal point to play off and a hold-up player that will let runners play in-behind. Whether he’s fit enough to start remains to be seen. There will also be concern with the defence due to Dean Lewington’s sending off and Cameron Norman’s injury. The obvious picks to come into the team would be Kyran Lofthouse and MJ Williams. They’ll have the task of dealing with Omar Bogle and co. as inform Newport are the next team to visit Stadium MK on Saturday. Dons are now seven points off the top of the table and seven points clear of dropping out of the play-offs. With just 13 games remaining, every game is massive!

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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