Paynes Player Ratings Mansfield

After a poor result at the weekend, Mike Williamson’s men needed to bounce back quickly. Unfortunately, the next game was another away trip, this time to top of the table Mansfield. The Stags entered this match, having only lost one league game at home all season, but by full-time, it was The Dons who came out on top, securing a 1-2 win. Here’s how I rated the players after the victory at Field Mill:

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

GK – Michael Kelly – 7.5: Starting with a difficult one to give a rating to. Kelly’s shot-stopping was brilliant but his distribution was awful. He was unlucky for Mansfield’s goal, saving a Lucas Akins penalty as well as the rebounded shot only for the third effort to end up in the back of the net due to the slow reaction of his defenders. He claimed countless crosses and shots with very little trouble, giving the impression that it would take a lot to beat him. However, his long range distribution was mostly wayward and he did give the ball away once at close range as well but thankfully recovered to make the save.

RWB – Kyran Lofthouse – 8: Lofthouse is really starting to settle into his role and he looked on top form again in this game. He had plenty of space to operate in, particularly in the first half but was under-utilised throughout. With this being said, whenever the ball did reach him he looked sharp and ready to take on his man on play the right pass. He read the game very well which directly resulted in a couple of effective counter-attacks for Dons. Lofthouse was a handful for his marker all game and he did this without neglecting his defensive duties, putting in some impressive challenges and blocks including in the final seconds of the game with Dons hanging on for the full-time whistle.

RCB – MJ Williams – 6.5: Defended well in the central areas but once again Williams has shown he’s not natural at centre-back. He gave away a penalty for blocking a shot with his arm despite claiming his arm was at his side. Williams’ blushes were nearly saved by Kelly when the penalty was saved but Williams made another mistake, failing to react to the rebounded efforts and letting former Don Stephen Quinn run straight past him to fire in the opener after 15 minutes. The other concern was that Williams rarely went to his man if they were on the wing and he let too many crosses in simply from not trying to stop the cross. In isolation he did a good job, but his positional sense was lacking. He came off after 84 minutes for Cameron Norman.

CB – Warren O’Hora – 8: The standout man in the back three. O’Hora went up for every header and used his weight well in challenges to dispossess Mansfield attackers cleanly. He played with the tempo in possession as he usually does but he did it much more safely than he did in the previous game. O’Hora operated well with the likes of Jack Payne and Lewis Bate to open up gaps between the lines as Mansfield weren’t looking to sit back.

LCB – Daniel Harvie – 7: Inconsistent both in and out of possession in the middle third but showed his quality when he was the last line of defence. He put in some crucial blocks and played with intelligence to minimise Mansfield’s attacking opportunities. However, he was suspect to a dodgy pass and did occasionally play the ball out for an opposition throw needlessly. With this being said, he did contribute to some well-planned passing plays with the likes of Joe Tomlinson and Lewis Bate.

LWB – Joe Tomlinson – 8: Back to his best with an impressive display at both ends of the pitch. He carried the ball well going forward and tested the Mansfield defence a few times. Tomlinson had one of the better chances of the second half but could only find the side netting with his effort. In defence he put his body on the line, making countless blocks including three in quick succession in a scrappy passage of play as Mansfield kept going for goal desperately seeking an equaliser. Similarly to Lofthouse, Tomlinson had a lot of space to work with and he used it well, forcing Mansfield to scramble back into position on multiple occasions.

CM – Jack Payne – 8.5: One of the poorer performers in the previous game but he bounced back in style with an energetic display in the middle of the park. His movement off the ball significantly improved and he regularly got Dons out of some tight spots with his sharp turns and close dribbling, all in addition to his keen eye for a pass. Between Payne and Lewis Bate, the pair were able to dictate a lot of the play without over-committing to attacks and both were quickly back to defend whenever Mansfield tried to counter-attack. Notably, he cleared a dangerous cross with a diving header that he managed to turn behind for a corner when it very easily could’ve gone into the back of his own net. Payne’s recovery runs were fantastic, even if they were from his own mistakes at times! He came off after 84 minutes for Ethan Robson.

CM – Lewis Bate – 8: Dons just about won the midfield battle and that was certainly helped by the composure of Bate and Payne. Bate in particular was confident playing out from the back under pressure in the defensive third, whilst Payne was able to show his abilities a little closer to the halfway line with the entire defence in safer positions. A lot of Bate’s work goes under the radar but he was the perfect player to play a quick one-two with and he often appeared multiple times in Dons’ better advanced attacks. Defensively, he was quick to cover the centre-backs which made it that bit harder for Mansfield to get clear cut opportunities.

RAM – Dan Kemp – 6.5: Kemp looked good off the ball and pressed well but was limited in possession by Mansfield’s experienced defence. He was a good support option and did contribute to some of the passing plays including for Matt Dennis’ headed chance but he had nowhere near as much success as Alex Gilbey on the other side. Kemp did have one shot on goal after his cross was cleared back to him but he lifted his effort well clear of the crossbar. He came off after 62 minutes for Emre Tezgel.

LAM – Alex Gilbey (C) – 9 (TOP DON): Gilbey was a man on a mission. He was the driving force behind every attack and importantly, he learned his lesson from the mistakes of the previous game. He scored the equaliser through picking up a second ball after Kelly’s long ball forward was headed down to him by a Mansfield defender. From there Gilbey advanced and swiftly put the ball in the back of the net from the edge of the box, making it 1-1 after 20 minutes. Dons very rarely won the second balls in the previous game so it was good to see Gilbey making the right run behind the striker to ensure that Dons have a chance of retaining possession high up the pitch. He was also credited with the assist for Matt Dennis’ winning goal but this was a simple pass on the halfway line and Dennis still had a lot to do. Gilbey set up plenty of other major chances as well as creating his own. His final chance of the game came after Ellis Harrison set him up in the box. From there Gilbey dropped the shoulder on his man and shot across goal only to be denied by a top save from Christy Pym. He led by example and showed the right mentality to put Dons’ promotion hopes back on track.

ST – Matt Dennis – 6.5: Incredibly frustrating to watch. He plays with this certain feel of self-worth that carries through his body language and the way he interacts with his teammates. For example whilst the rest of the team sprinted over to Gilbey when he equalised, Dennis lightly jogged across despite being the closest man to the scorer when it went in. His attitude problem was largely displayed by the rest of his play as well, giving the ball away easily more often than not. There were times where he was able to hold the play up well which enabled Dons to push further up the pitch. Dennis had a major chance to open the scoring in the first half when Gilbey’s shot deflected into his path. Dennis had a free header from close range but he could only head it wide for a goal-kick despite having most of the goal to aim at. However, he made up for this in the second half when he collected Gilbey’s pass before driving forwards at Mansfield’s defence before cutting in and shooting from the edge of the box. His effort took a deflection but this was enough for it to beat Christy Pym in the Mansfield goal and it soon found its way to the bottom corner, making it 1-2 after 54 minutes. He came off shortly afterwards, making way for Ellis Harrison after 62 minutes.

SUB (RAM) – Emre Tezgel – 7: Rarely a standout player but he did well with what he was given. Tezgel worked well with Lofthouse and Payne to create space on the right side of the attacking third, the three interchanging passes effectively on a semi-regular basis. The loanee also won a surprising amount of headers and acted as a good support option for Ellis Harrison.

SUB (ST) – Ellis Harrison – 7.5: Helped prolong Dons control of the game with his excellent hold-up play, bringing the likes of Payne and Bate into more attacking positions. With Harrison on the pitch, Dons are able to commit more bodies to attacks and despite not scoring with him on the pitch, his presence took a lot of pressure off the defence until the final few minutes when Mansfield threw in everything to try and get an equaliser. Harrison also set up a major chance for Gilbey, laying a ball off for the midfielder whilst holding off his marker in the middle of the box.

SUB (RCB) – Cameron Norman – 7: Helped to close out the game as Mansfield started to pile on the pressure. He was one of many to throw his body on the line when necessary to deny Mansfield a clear shot on goal.

SUB (CM) – Ethan Robson – 7: Added some extra energy to the midfield in the closing stages, and he showed his combative side to help break down play and start one or two counter-attacks.

TEAM PERFORMANCE – 8: It wasn’t the most clinical performance of the season or the most solid defensively, but it was a spirited display against a top side in fantastic form. This was the performance of a team that wanted to make up for their mistakes and they brought another level of energy that made it hard for Mansfield to keep up. It was an end to end game and both teams had plenty of chances to score but Dons got into enough good positions to warrant scoring a couple and that’s what they did. Mike Williamson’s men rode their luck at times with Mansfield looking destined to score seemingly every time they came forward but the entire team defended valiantly and put their bodies on the line for the cause.

The movement off the ball could still be improved as there were spells where the level dropped slightly but it was a massive improvement on the previous game and since Mansfield were always looking to attack, there were always pockets of space to operate in. The lack of shots on target is a slight concern as The Dons may have created lots of chances, but far too many of these never threatened the Mansfield keeper. A little more composure in the final third was required. Dons did ride their luck a bit with some favourable deflections but sometimes you have to make your own luck by making the right runs and popping up in the right positions, eventually something will fall your way. The patterns of play in possession were much smoother and despite the error rate feeling slightly higher than normal, the recovery as a team was always enough to get things back under control, even if it took a few attempts to get the ball away properly at times.

This was a significant result for the automatic promotion race. The Dons are now just two points off second place whilst Mansfield are still five clear of Williamson’s men. After some eventful away trips, it’s now back to Stadium MK to face off against Karl Robinson’s Salford on Saturday. It will be a trickier game than some will realise and they’ll certainly be looking for revenge after a dramatic reverse fixture but if The Dons want automatic promotion, these are the games to be winning!

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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